NEW TL:The Sons in Splendor, the Golden Age of the House of York

The Sons in Splendour: The Golden Age of the House of York


On the 9th of April 1483, one of the most underrated Kings in English History, Edward IV died. A military man, flower of Chivalry and reformer of Kingship, Edward unexpectedly died at the age of 40; leaving behind a muddled legacy, a questionable succession and precarious foreign relations. A chaotic usurpation by his brother Richard of Gloucester and the collapse of the Yorkist dynasty would follow within two years.

But what if Edward survived? The nervous and sparse years of Henry VII of the house of Tudor fall away and are replaced with the vibrant, outward-looking and energetic rule of Edward IV’s later years and those of his son and grandsons. The ripples could be massive, in the old world and the new, in the political and the spiritual sphere. Join us as we go on a journey, including narrative and historiography, into a Yorkist 16th century.

Prelude: The Passover 10th April 1483 Windsor Castle

William, Lord Hastings, hurried through the outer courtyard of Windsor Castle. The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year and the sun beamed down through the battlements. It matched Hastings’ mood, he thought to himself as he passed into the Chapel cloister. The King was still alive. The last week had seen Edward grow weaker and weaker, to the point that his will had even been altered to reflect his untimely end, but now Hastings had received word that the fever had broken and Edward was slowly recovering. This news spurred him on even quicker as he neared the royal chambers, with his servant trailing in his wake.

Out of the light and into the cool gloom of the great staircase. Hastings hurried upwards to meet his King, and groaned as he neared the bedchamber. The Woodvilles – they really did get everywhere didn’t they? Bishop Salisbury was talking to his nephew Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, outside the royal chamber, a number of other hangers-on and a pair of Royal guards making for a crowded landing. Hastings gave an inward sigh; like a persistent weed the Woodvilles had gotten everywhere in the 20 or so years since Elizabeth had turned the King’s head, it was no surprise to see them here, but why these two? Lionel Woodville, Bishop of Salisbury, saw Hastings approach and his relaxed air changed to an annoyed smirk to a more professional welcome; ‘my Lord Hastings, such joy to see you and on an auspicious morning as this!’

‘Bishop, ‘tiz well met to see you too, the King is well I take it?’ Hastings had little interest in exchanging pleasantries with the man.

‘He is on the mend, God be praised, the Queen is with him just this moment, he is taking some food, I would wait out here if I were you.’

‘Hm’ Hastings murmured ‘I was summonsed immediately, the King requested my presence urgently, I see you were less required my Lord?’

‘We’re here for my mother’ Sneered Dorset, who had remained silent to this point. ‘Your absence was noted Hastings, as has your eagerness to run to the King’s side now.’

‘Well I bid you both good morning gentlemen’ Said Hastings, ignoring the barbed comment from the young up-start. Thomas Grey was a small runt promoted well above his station and Hastings had learned it was pointless engaging with him either. Edward had called them to his bed a week ago and ordered them both to reconcile their differences; both men had reluctantly agreed but Hastings was now relieved that Edward’s recovery had allowed their spat to continue.

Hastings threaded his way between the preening Woodvilles and approached Rook, one of the King’s stewards standing by the door. ‘My Lord Hastings, it is good to see you’ the man said.

‘And you Rook’ replied Hastings ‘He will see me?’

‘Of course my Lord’ Rook responded loudly, with a gleeful glance at the two Woodvilles standing behind Hastings. ‘I was given strict instructions to allow you entry.’

Hastings entered; this room even darker than the previous one. The curtains were pulled tight and the air smelt of bitter herbs, light emitting from the roaring fireplace and a brace of candles beyond the bed. On the far side of the bed sat Queen Elizabeth, her hair tied up, her eyes dark and her face strained, although she still managed a smile when Hastings entered. A maid was leaning over the bed, her back to the door, and Hastings had to manoeuvre around her to see she had a bowl of broth and spoon in hand. In front of her, lying in bed, propped up by a few pillows, his face grey to match the ageing tufts in his otherwise fair beard was the King of England. Edward IV, King of England and France, Lord of Wales and Ireland, Earl of March and the shining light of the Yorkist dynasty, but most of all Hastings’ friend, he was glad to see him well.

‘Ah William’ said Edward as he glanced up from his meal ‘Enough woman, away with you’ this time to the maid.

‘We’re so glad you could come William’ said the Queen rising to greet him, with all the airs and graces you could expect from a Queen of almost 20 years.

‘So am I, your grace, it is good to see you better sire.’ Hastings had been three days earlier and Edward had been even more pale then, his eyes sunken, his breathing laboured, and there certainly had been no broth. Hastings had believed it to be the last time he would see his friend, and he had been wrong, thank God.

Edward turned to his wife ‘Elizabeth would you give us a moment? The Lord Chamberlain and I have some matters to discuss.’ For a moment it looked as if Elizabeth Woodville was about to protest that her husband not discuss affairs of state with death so recently having passed over him, but she thought better of it and with a kiss on his cheek and a nod to William she left the room.

And then they were alone. ‘Do sit’ said the King indicating the chair which Elizabeth had vacated. Hastings sat, turning the chair slightly to see the King.

There was a long pause, as if Edward was unsure of what to say next. Yet this was not illness or malaise, he was calculating, thinking, Hastings had seen that look many times before, the King was back alright, even if he wasn’t quite his old strength. At length he gave a small outward breath. ‘How are things?’

Hastings was slightly wrong-footed by the mundane question. ‘All is well sire, I summoned your brother as you requested, he indicated that he would arrive some time before the end of the month. The Calais garrison and the city guard are at full strength. The Exchequer is humming along nicely. Richard tells me the northern border is quiet and word from the continent is that the French are not taking any action in your absence. I have brought some papers for your chambers’ attention, mostly accounts I’m sure you would rather avoid them.’

‘No that is fine, thank you William.’ Replied the King, who again resumed his awkward, brooding silence. After a few more minutes, he turned and looked William Hastings in the eye. ‘A miracle eh? My recovery? The doctors gave me up for dead, we even had Dean Robert on stand-by, and yet here I am.’ Edward gave a relaxed motion with his arms indicating the bed and its magnificent coverings. ‘Would almost make you believe in the almighty eh?’ he said with a wry smile. It was not common knowledge but Hastings knew Edward intimately enough to be aware that he was not one for the works of the almighty, and especially not the rituals of his acolytes, preferring to rest his faith in ‘a good piece of English steel by my side and Milanese plate on my back’. However now Edward seemed almost open to the idea of divine intervention.

And then he came out with it. ‘I had a vision William’ the King said rather matter of fact. ‘Whilst I was under, it was him, St Peter.’ Lord Hastings could hardly believe his ears but now the King’s almost paradoxical vim and vigour was beginning to make sense. ‘I saw him’ The King continued, almost embarrassed ‘and he gave me a message.’ The King leaned forward now fixing Hastings’ eyes with his ‘You have a second chance Edward of March, a second chance for your dynasty, a second chance to put your house in order. The almighty does not claim you yet. His Angel is passing over you. You have a second chance.’

Then he leaned back, Hastings sat patiently, Edward again seemed lost in thought, the room tense. The King gave a small groan and leaned to one side, Hastings believed another attack of pain was coming on. An almighty fart rumbled throughout the bedchamber. ‘Ha!’ yelled the King his face pained and giddy at the same time, ‘that was a good one!’ He gave a full belly laugh, as he had in days of old, when he was much leaner and fitter. At length Edward IV settled and again transfixed his friend with those blue eyes of his. ‘It’s true William. On my fathers’ bones I know it to be true.’

‘I have a second chance, God does not want me yet, I have a second chance. And I’ve had time to think. I would have made a right mess going off just now.’ Edward continued to talk freely and honestly. ‘Edward is not ready to be King, France and Burgundy are in turmoil, and despite my best efforts my wife’s family is still loathed by most of the realm. The house is unfinished William. And St Peter has sent me back to finish the job. What do you think?’

Hastings was dumbfounded, King Edward IV finding religion and divine direction was about as likely as an Irishman gambling fair or a Scotsman breaking a smile. But he had never seen him like this before, despite his physical weakness his eyes and brain were as sharp as ever and he clearly believed what he had seen. ‘My King what would you have me do?’ Hastings eventually responded.

‘Now that’s the spirit.’ Replied King Edward with a smile. ‘Summon Parliament, with my authority, Westminster, 4 weeks from now. Send word to Richard to see me as soon as he arrives in London, I have a job for him. And summon Rivers and my sons from Ludlow. In fact issue summons to all Lords of the realm, I want them all here for this one. I leave the preparations to you William, arrange lodging and food for as many as you can. And I want you back here in three days our work has just begun.’

‘What work would that be my Lord?

‘William my friend, we are going to finish building the house, I am going to leave this family in a better state than which I found it, and I am going to ensure that the name York is remembered for a thousand years.’

Chapter 1: 1483 Out of the ashes

‘Edward IV: the later years’ Richard Partington in English Historical Review 2005

The King’s recovery around Easter of 1483 was as miraculous as it was welcomed across the realm. With the Lancastrian threat of Henry Tudor not quite snuffed out, Edward’s foreign policy aimless and in tatters, the Woodville family as despised as ever and the succession not entirely secured Edward’s return to relative health by May was a huge relief for all concerned.

The reinvigorated King spent a summer patching up these shortcomings in his Kingdom. A Parliament was called and assembled by the 7th of May with Richard Ratcliffe as speaker. The King himself addressed Parliament himself for the first time in over two years and he laid out a broad sweep of legislation designed to strengthen his rule and his succession.

New investitures were made with Edward’s nephew Edward of Middleham being made Constable of Corfe and Lord Dorchester. This supplemented the King’s own son Edward who was given a large share of lands in the south-west adjoining his cousins but also most crucially those of Dorset and Hastings to act as a barrier between further conflict. In Wales Edward sought to curb the power of the Woodvilles by removing Rivers from the Prince of Wales’ Council and handing some of his southern estates to Herbert and Buckingham whilst his lordship in Mold was given to Thomas, Lord Stanley. Rivers was placated with his long-coveted prize of the Captaincy of Calais a role which gave him prominence on the continent.

But Edward saved his greatest prizes for his two most trust-worthy of companions. Hastings was given the title Constable and Marshall of England, a new role which Edward made clear held responsibility for the defence of the realm and also the primary ambassador with foreign powers. In this role Hastings was immediately dispatched to first Brittany and then Burgundy to strengthen England’s ties there.

Richard of Gloucester became Lord Protector. This was an astonishing move as the King was not in his minority or infirm. Edward used a new legal treatise he had prepared ‘Sommnium Vigilantis’ as basis for his decision. The text stated that the defence of the realm was of such paramount importance, and the contemporary roles of a monarch ever expanding, that eternal vigilance was required and not least great assistance. Gloucester was removed as Warden of the north and replaced by Thomas Stanley and William Catesby in the west and east March respectively. These two men would have chairs on the Council of the North which would be arbitrated by the newly installed Bishop of Durham John Fox.

Gloucester’s role as Lord Protector essentially made him second in England only to the King, whilst Hastings focused on external defence and diplomacy the Lord Protector’s new job was to uphold law and order and the collection of taxes in England itself. Gloucester could not summon Parliament or demand taxation, but he was free to implement any other measures necessary for the defence of the realm including leading judicial tours and mustering yeomanry when needed. It is possible that this was Edward simply rewarding his supremely loyal brother but the timing suggests that Edward was in fact trying a new form of governance; a New Monarchy where supreme power was held by the monarch but delegated to extremely close and trusted nobility. Of course it would also ensure good continuity of government during Edward’s continued recovery.

The final icing on the cake was Gloucester’s wardship of the Prince of Wales. Twelve year-old Prince Edward had spent the earlier years of his life in Ludlow with his uncle Rivers learning all the ways of a chivalrous gentleman. Yet his proximity to the Woodville family had caused rumblings of fear during Edward’s illness, and the Prince’s move to London with his Uncle, and the occasional trip with Hastings, was surely deemed necessary to make him into the powerful modern monarch he was destined to be.

These changes may have been unprecedented, but such was the outpouring of goodwill for the King’s recovery that it seems they passed almost without a hitch. The observer Dominic Mancini comments that ‘It astounds me how much his people love him, that his every will be granted in an instant.’ This flurry of activity was capped with the 1483 Ordinance of Accounts and the later Ordinance of Justices in which Edward ordered a review of all the household and exchequer accounts in order to make further savings and a judicial tour of the outlying shires led by Lord Howard and Lord Scales. Such was the feeling of goodwill that Edward was granted a £20,000 tax collected over three years ‘for the maintenance and upkeep of his majesty’s fortresses’ and a further £10,000 in benevolences. In exchange Edward removed all duties on the flourishing book trade and pledged to build a new abbey to St Cornelius at Sandal in Yorkshire.

The Redemption Parliament of May to August 1483, as it became known, was perhaps one of the most accomplished that England had seen in an age. In the space of a few months Edward IV had turned his faltering reign around and with a recently uncharacteristic burst of energy had sought to repair much of the damage from his own neglect over the previous ten years. Gillingham has suggested that this was a mere ‘papering over the cracks’ as the Buckingham and Remnant Rebellions would lay bare in the next few years yet McFarlane remains the final authority in this regard when he states that ‘the Parliament laid nothing short of the foundations of the Yorkist Golden Age.’

‘The life of William, Lord Hastings’ John Watts 1994

The Redemption Parliament threw Lord Hastings into a new chapter of his life. As the newly inaugurated Constable and Marshall of England, Edward charged Hastings with securing England’s alliances across the channel. That Edward himself had neglected such matters in favour of feasting and the naïve and pointless French truce of Picquiny was forgotten.

Hastings’ first port of call was to Brittany. It helped that his arrival came at a good time for the Yorkist dynasty. Henry Tudor, long time exile and ‘last imp’ of the Lancastrian claim had finally accepted a deal to return to England in exchange for an oath of fealty to Edward IV and partial restoration to his earldom of Richmond. Hastings not only took Tudors’ oath as proxy but also confirmed on him the grants of land which the Redemption Parliament had promised. To Tudor’s uncle Jasper, Hastings brought grants of land in Cheshire and Lincolnshire under the title of Lord Moreton.

Yet the Tudors were just a side-show. Hastings met with Duke Francis, who was at the time locked in a struggle with Louis XI for control of his Duchy. By October 1483, with news of Louis’ death having reached Brittany, Hastings and Duke Francis agreed the Treaty of Pontivy. The Treaty finalised a marriage alliance between Francis’ heir Anne of Brittany and Prince Edward, with the Treaty stipulating that Brittany would go to their second son. More importantly for Brittany a free company of English soldiers was to be sent for the Duchy’s defence in exchange for Breton sanctuary for English ships. It is also assumed that Francis gave his tacit support to a more overtly anti-French alliance given the events at Hastings’ next port of call; Burgundy.

By the autumn of 1483 the Anglo-Burgundian situation had become more complicated. A long term feeling of goodwill, culminating in Yorkist sanctuary in Burgundy during the Readeption of 1470-1, had waned thanks to the Treaty of Picquiny. The Burgundian nobility, still influenced by Edward’s sister Margaret, had become increasingly difficult to convince of the value of an English alliance and in December 1482 they had agreed to the Treaty of Arras; Margaret of Austria, infant heiress to Burgundy, would marry the Dauphin CharlesI, ties with England were cut and the county of Artois adjoining Calais was to be passed to the French. However with renewed vigour from across the channel and the new king unsettled on the French throne, the Burgundians changed their minds. De facto ruler of Burgundy, Maximillian of Austria, saw his moment to strike and secure his borders more firmly.

In the early months of 1484 the Treaty of Ypern was agreed. Maximillian repudiated the Treaty of Arras on a technicality (the deal was predicated on Margaret marrying the Dauphin, not the new King and so was null and void) and instead pledged his daughter’s hand to Prince Richard of England, then just 10 years old. The treaty also included a cut in English duties on wool exports, a standing force of 1000 men at Calais to assist in Burgundy’s defence and a £3,000 bond to be paid to Burgundy if this deal was broken. It has been possible to deduce, with the benefit of hindsight, that this Treaty also established the groundwork for the later Treaty of Calais and the triumvirate alliance against France given the total pivot and commitment towards Burgundy which the Treaty of Ypern demonstrated.

The End of the House of Lancaster RL Storey 2001

The final genuine claim of the Lancastrian dynasty ended at Christmas 1483. As Henry Tudor ‘the last scraping of the Lancastrian barrel’ (Carpenter) returned to England. The House of Lancaster did not end in blood as it could have so easily done, but in a solemn ceremony and a raucous feast. Henry Tudor rode immediately to London with his uncle Jasper, companion for so many years in exile, and escorted by Lords Lovell and Scrope and the Earl of Shrewsbury, men with a Lancastrian leaning but ones who had proven themselves to the Yorkist cause.

At Westminster Abbey, on Christmas day, Henry and Jasper Tudor bowed before their King Edward and swore an oath of fealty and allegiance to him and were pardoned for their treason in turn. The climax of the ceremony was the unpinning of a broach from Henry Tudor’s cloak; the red rose, which he threw at King Edward’s feet and replaced it with the Son in Splendour of the House of York and the Portcullis of his mothers’ Beaufort house. Henry Tudor was no longer a Lancastrian heir, he was just Henry Tudor, restored to the Earldom of Richmond.

Edward was magnanimous as he had been in the past; Richmond came with an almost total restoration of its lands, although some had been passed to William Catesby the new warden of the East March and newly made Lord Malham. For Jasper Tudor he was less lucky, his lands had been swept into the various marcher lordships and Edward adjudged that he wasn’t trustworthy enough to return to his native south Wales, instead he was granted lands in Cheshire and Flintshire with a few estates in Lincolnshire and the title Lord Moreton. Yet Edward was not naive; both Tudor Lords were bound to a bond with the crown and what is more with Lord Stanley, now Earl Derby, Henry’s stepfather who was made ultimately responsible for their good behaviour.

The Lancastrian cause had been snuffed out, but a smouldering flicker still remained as time would tell.

Chapter 2: 1484 The foundations hold

‘The Wars of the Roses 1450-1491’ C Carpenter 2004

Many have debated at which point the Renaissance came to England, some have suggested the arrival of Macchiavelli in 1493, or the extensive work of Erasmus of Rotterdam and other Humanist scholars in the early 16th century. Either way the influence of King Edward V (1487-1525) is seen to be the main instigator for the flourishing academic, artistic and intellectual scene to rival northern Italy itself.

Yet all of these interpretations miss the work done by Edward IV in his later years to establish an open and discursive intellectual community which came to be centred on his close relationship with the pioneering printer and writer William Caxton. Edward was of course not a stranger to the publishing world; his reign in the 1470s seeing the publication of his own Chivalric primer ‘The Black Book’ and his patronage of Fortescue’s ‘De Laudibus Legum Angliae’ but his exemption of duties on books at the Redemption Parliament seems to have advanced his efforts exponentially. In the remaining four years of his life, troubled by illness though it was, Edward was able to throw more effort into reading and writing. Edward also ensured that his sons acquired these skills as Dominic Mancini’s appointment as tutor to the Prince of Wales in the autumn of 1483 demonstrate. However there was no greater influence over the King in these later years than William Caxton.

Caxton had established a printing press at Westminster in 1476 and published a number of works in English including collaborating with the Earl Rivers. However it seems that Caxton first met Edward IV in the early months of 1484, possibly encouraged by Rivers’ himself or the King’s declaration at the Redemption Parliament in the previous year. The impact seems to have been immediate; translations of Aesop’s Fables and the Book of the Knight in the Tower (one of the first instances of sections of the Bible printed in English) both printed in 1484 bear tributes to ‘my Lord and patron, King Edward’ and in one printing referring to him as ‘the greatest of worldly princes.’ Caxton was also responsible for publications of the Black Book and copies of Somnium Vigilantis in 1484 and 1485, very much lending himself to the Yorkist propaganda machine. Yet it would be wrong to see Caxton as a mere conduit for Yorkist Propaganda, the relationship was certainly more symbiotic; Caxton’s influence and contacts brought greater ideas into England which Edward and the Yorkist household seem to have been open to. This is certainly evident in later policies of Edward V but in Edward’s reign the development of the Star Chamber and the King’s Chamber certainly testify to a foreign influence in English political thought which surely came from Caxton.

A further influence could have easily come from Lord Hastings in his new role as Constable and Marshall of England; Hastings spent a considerable amount of time abroad 1483-1484 fixing the Yorkist alliances. This invariably brought him into contact with new ideas especially through Maximillian and the Burgundian and Imperial courts. Hastings concluded the Treaty of Ypern in February 1484 but returned to England in April (or May according to some chronicles) having accompanied the Emperor on a tour through the southern Empire into Swabia, Bavaria and Saxony where he clearly encountered new political discourse as the similarities between the new Star Chamber and Germanic contemporaries are too close to be coincidental.

Finally William Hussey must be considered to have had an influence on the King. Hussey was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from 1481 to 1495 and began to stamp his authority on his position in 1483 when he is recorded as having requested that the King not become involved in cases ahead of their being heard in order to maintain the impartiality of the King’s justice. Hussey seems to have been influenced by Germanic and Italian ideas at this stage and all of this discourse contributed to his De Libertate Legis published in 1484 (by Caxton of course) which suggested a greater independence of the King’s Bench; the institution was still of course to be predicated on royal prerogative and the authority of the crown but was increasingly able to reach its own judgements and decide its own directions. These ideas would of course be more greatly implemented in the decades to come, but can be seen in the judicial Star Chamber reforms of 1484.

All things considered, it is impossible to laud the intellectual, philosophical and political achievements of Edward V without celebrating those of his father. Edward IV not only allowed the new book trade to flourish but was an active patron and contributor to the new literary scene. Further, he became increasingly open to new ideas in both encouraging and enshrining them in law.

Cambridge Encyclopedia of British History, G Elton ed. 1978

STAR CHAMBER An institution created by the ‘Star Chamber Act’ of the 1484 Parliament under King Edward IV. Seen as a partial response to Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William Hussey, and his publication of De Libertate Legis earlier in the year, the Chamber was instituted by Hussey under instruction of the king to try matters of law at King’s bench level but outside of royal jurisdiction. The chairman of the Star Chamber would be chosen by the Chief Justice and given Royal Assent, but not expressly chosen by the monarch, John Fineux was appointed the first chair in October 1484. The role of the Star Chamber was initially intended to be entirely at the behest of the Chief Justice and comprised of five Justices in total, sitting in the ‘Star Chamber’ off Westminster Hall. The initial role of the Star Chamber was given an unexpectedly swift extension of powers by 1485 following Buckingham’s rebellion. The Chamber was given extensively new and wide ranging powers under the reign of Edward V and subsequent monarchs…

Chapter 3: 1485 The House always wins

‘Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham 1455-1485, R Partington English Biographical History Issue 53 1997

By the spring of 1485 Buckingham was becoming increasingly restless and vengeful. Married to Catherine Woodville, and kept from the majority of his inheritance by his guardian Edward IV he had become extremely bitter towards the House of York. It is hard to tell Buckingham’s true feelings at such a distance, but it is entirely possible that his marginalisation, given his royal blood, combined with a bride he would no doubt have felt was beneath him had caused resentment to build over many years. It is also possible to conclude that resentment boiled over in late 1484 after the Act of Resumption which removed the lands conferred to Buckingham a year earlier. These lands - originally granted in 1483 from the Rivers estates in north-eastern Powys, were portioned out to a number of more minor Lords including John Fineux and William Hussey; Buckingham cannot have taken kindly to this reversal and the installation of two titans of the judicial system on his doorstep, and it seems that this was the straw that broke the camels’ back.

Yet rebellion against the crown was by no means a wise move; by 1485 Edward’s existing household structure in the localities, the liberal use of JPs and the newly combined judicial tour of 1483 with the new Star Chamber gave Edward a tight control on the localities. However Buckingham was aided by a number of Wlesh gentry; John Morton, Reginald Bray, Evan Morgan, Richard Griffith and Rhys Ap Thomas. All of these men had faced the double snub of receiving no land in 1483 from Rivers’ estates and again in the 1484 redistribution. It is unlikely that these men actively liked Buckingham, his haughty and arrogant nature doubtlessly deterring them, but they nonetheless made common cause in the hope of spoils.

It is unclear what Buckingham hoped to achieve in his rebellion in May 1485, it is most likely that he simply aimed to convince Edward to give him and his co-conspirators greater land, but it is clear that Buckingham used circumstances to his advantage. In April 1485 word spread across England that Edward had again fallen ill, those who had secretly hoped that 1483 would have been his end, again prayed that now may be the time, it seems that Buckingham was one of these and in a fit of excitement or bravado he declared himself King and in rebellion against the House of York.

On the 11th of May 1485 Buckingham appeared in the town square of Brecon alongside Morton and Bray who read out a declaration. Amongst other things, it bemoaned the ‘waste and gluttony’ of King Edward and that he had ‘unleashed a tyranny upon the realm of law men and justices more intent on personal profit than upholding the King’s peace.’ These were all typical exaggerations masking petty grievances but the most groundbreaking revelations came in reference to Buckingham’s claim; it was declared that Edward IV had been pledged to marry Elizabeth Butler before Elizabeth Woodville and therefore his ‘heirs’ were illegitimate. Additionally the conspirators claimed that Edward himself was a bastard of an archer named Blaybourne and that he himself had no claim to the throne, this would have left Henry Tudor next in line but again Buckingham claimed infidelity on the part of his mother Margaret Beaufort (Buckingham’s own cousin) which left Buckingham as the only legitimate claimant to the throne. These claims were patently bogus yet it is likely the criticisms of waste and ‘judicial tyranny’ held some weight in the Welsh marches. Whatever the veracity of the claims Buckingham, Morgan, Morton, Bray, Griffith and Thomas were between them able to raise a force of around 4,000 men which left Brecon on the 27th of May marching towards the English border.

Historians have debated Buckingham’s plans since the rebellion itself. His small army marched vaguely north east towards Hereford and on towards Worcester. Local royal officials barred the gates but some of the peasantry, taken in by Buckingham’s promises, joined the march. The direction of the army puts them heading roughly towards the north east and perhaps Buckingham sought common cause with the Scropes in south Yorkshire or the cadet branch of Staffords in Buckinghamshire. Either way the army of rebels, now reaching around 5,000 men, arrived at the small village of Alcester in Warwickshire on the 9th of June 1485 and were in for a rude awakening.

Edward IV may have been incapacitated through illness, but he had left his realm in safe hands. With Hastings on another foreign embassy, Richard of Gloucester had been left in command as Lord Protector, a role which now came into its own. Gloucester had been informed of the Brecon declaration on the 18th of May and had immediately issued a summons to Buckingham and his supporters to London whilst dispatching commissions of array across southern and northern England. By 27th of May it was clear that Buckingham did not intend to heed the summons and so Gloucester left London on the 5th of June heading towards Northampton with a force of 5,000 men including Lord Scales, Lord Cheyne and the 14 year old Prince Edward heading on his first campaign. But the strength of the Yorkist regime had been made known. Gloucester’s force was one of no less than four converging on the Midlands in early June of 1485. Dorset and Earl Rivers had each been ordered to stay put and channel Buckingham further east whilst Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby marched from the north west with around 3,000 men and Lord Catesby of Malham with around 2,000 from the north-east. Finally Edward Hastings, 19 year old son of Lord Hastings had a force of 2,000 men carrying out delaying actions around Coventry. Most astonishingly of all was the presence of the Tudors amongst this advancing host; Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond marched with Lord Malham and Jasper Tudor, Lord Morton, advised the young Hastings on campaign strategy, perhaps the smear on Margaret Beaufort had been too much to bear.

All of this news must have confronted Buckingham at Alcester with a feeling of cold dread, on the 10th of June Buckingham began to pull back westwards towards the Welsh border, a wise move given the over-extended nature of his supply lines. Buckingham must have responded with fear as his army made it back to Hereford by the 15th of June. However the net had closed around him; Gloucester now commanded the combined strength of 9,000 men including Edward Hastings, Lords Moreton and Malham and the Earl of Richmond at Worcester whist Derby had moved to cut off Buckingham’s retreat at Staunton-on-Wye with his 3,000 men. Buckingham was trapped, and with the Mayor of Hereford barring the gates blocking the only bridge over the Wye for miles Buckingham had no choice but to give battle.

On the morning of the 17th of June 1485 Buckingham formed up his approximately 4,500 men (mostly Welsh longbowmen) at Bartonsham Meadow south-east of Hereford in a meander of the River Wye protecting both of his flanks; it would be the only wise decision he made that day. Unbeknownst to Buckingham, Bartonsham meadow was actually a swamp or boggy ground for the most part, giving him no room to maneuvre. Buckingham divided his line into three ‘battles’ the right led by Rhys Ap Thomas and the left led by Bray both mostly comprised of archers defended with stakes. Buckingham led the centre with the majority of the fighting men. Opposite him, its right flank anchored on the town walls, was the royal army led by Gloucester in the right battle, the centre was made up of the northern contingent under Malham, assisted by Richmond whilst the left battle was commanded by Edward Hastings, advised by Lord Moreton, Lord Scrope held a small reserve and Prince Edward, in the rear.

By most accounts the battle began around mid morning with characteristic boldness from Gloucester - no doubt buoyed by numerical superiority he ordered a general advance on foot with all three battles boasting a combined longbow/men-at-arms force. The rashness almost cost Gloucester his life as his battle became bogged down in marshy ground opposite Bray’s archers who found easy targets. On Buckingham’s right Rhys Ap Thomas was undone by an old acquaintance of his; Jasper Tudor. The two men knew each other from childhood and it seems Tudor had the measure of his opponent, launching a bold and ferocious strike on the most extreme end of the rebel line whilst Hastings beat a more controlled advance further in the centre. This had the desired effect, and with Thomas’ right wing broken he had no choice but to fold into the centre. Here the ferocity of the northern host, led by Gloucester’s trusty protege Lord Catesby of Malham, also became locked in a difficult and arduous battle with Buckingham’s seasoned men, who were literally fighting for their lives.

For all expectations of an easy Yorkist victory the battle hung in the balance for a number of hours until a coordinated attack from the Tudors broke the rebel army. Gloucester had by this point been able to pull his men back, bloodied and unable to immediately join the fight. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, gathered all available cavalry and launched a daring raid into the right flank of Buckingham’s battle line, apparently spotting a weak point. At the same time his Uncle Jasper launched another powerful thrust around the rear of Thomas’ formation breaking them. According to legend it was at this moment that Henry Tudor’s lance found the heart of the Duke of Buckingham killing him and his rebellion instantly. A shout went up that Buckingham had fallen and Gloucester, now in command of Scrope’s reserve and with the Prince in tow, surged forward to finish off the remaining rebels. Buckingham, Thomas, Griffith and Morgan were all killed outright with Morton dying later of his wounds and Bray being arrested after his surrender.

All told the Battle of Hereford cost the royal forces around 1,000 dead with Sir Thomas Wray of Sittingbourne the most senior man dead, killed in Gloucester’s failed attack. The rebels were almost annihilated; Bray and around 60 of his officers were found guilty of treason and executed, with another 3,500 dead on the field, this left around 900 men, mostly peasantry to be pardoned and returned to their homes.
Hi All, so this is my first timeline based on an idea I have had for a while, very happy for constructive criticism as I'm inexperienced at this. Expect roughly weekly updates from here on in. For the record expect shenanigans with the Holy Roman Empire, the Italian Wars and the New World coming up!
Any intention of butterflying Columbus’ voyages?

If so, might I suggest - a different European power (say England under Edward V) opted to sail west first using the northern route, that would be a really cool plot line in its own right.
Alright then, I'll give it a go. This is going to be a long, rambling ride through my thoughts, so be prepared.

France in the late 1400s is in many ways unique in Europe. It is at the time one of the most populated areas in Europe--13 million in 1483 according to Wikipedia--and has just come off of the war that arguably created French national identity (the Hundred Years' War, if you're not familiar). On the face of it, 1400s France is a very successful state, with a well-developed military culture, a strong economy, and a powerful demographic weight. However, this belies the far more complex truth of the matter.

Historically, France has been one of the least centralized states in Europe--not something we often associate with France given the Ancien Régime, but it must be understood that said system emerged directly as a result of its medieval history. During the Norman Conquest, for instance, the crown was so weak that the great princes who controlled the various duchies often treated with foreign powers on their own and more or less ignored the Capets. While this had changed somewhat by the late 1400s, due to the centralization necessary for the Hundred Years' War, the nobility was still very strong and very influential. To compound this, the church controlled some 40% of French property (seriously) and often collaborated with the nobility against royal policies in order to preserve its traditional power.

At the same time, you have a peasantry that is greatly different from the idea of the feudal serf. While serfdom did exist at the time, it was far less strict than in other areas, meaning that peasants were not as tied to the land; indeed, social mobility often depended on geographic mobility, and many peasants rose to become the influential guildmasters and merchants that formed France's economic core precisely through moving and trading.

In a sense, you have two economic and social worlds existing in unspoken tension; the traditional, feudal, authoritarian world of the nobility and the church, and the burgeoning proto-capitalism of the townships, which often ruled themselves. Sitting atop both of these is a crown that, while more powerful than it has been in previous centuries, is still reliant heavily reliant on the nobility and the church to get anything done.

So. Let us then say that someone in French employ--perhaps even Columbus himself, if foisted off by the Spaniards--discovers the Americas in the 1490s (let's say 1495 to take into account delays due to the Spanish rejection). While it's possible that this explorer ends up in the same place as Columbus did IOTL, I find the odds to be vanishingly small and boringly convergent. So let us say instead that alt-Columbus lands on the northern part of the OTL Eastern Seaboard, somewhere a bit north of Manhattan in OTL Connecticut on the Long Island Sound. What, then, are the values of this new land to the French? No sugar, no spice, not all that much nice. Not a whole lot of gold to be sure.

But the-land-that-would-never-be-Connecticut holds great value in reality, due of course to fur. Fur was ridiculously plentiful in the early days of colonialism, and the Long Island Sound is a perfect place to profit off of it. Moreover, the timber found there is of great strategic value to a future French navy, and of course it is decent, though not great, land for tobacco cultivation when that is discovered.

I figure that most likely, the Crown uses this as an opportunity to gain advantage over its subjects and thus establish an alt-Ancien Régime about a hundred years ahead of schedule. Most likely a form of colonial company similar to OTL is formed, with hunters and trappers in service to the crown travelling to the New World (not sure on what it'd be called by Europeans in this ATL, perhaps Colombie or something similar) and bringing back furs. Over time, it's likely that these fellows would make contact with native groups and tap into the continental trade networks (which likely collapse and then quickly reform as per OTL due to plague), gaining access to gold and tobacco from the south, and even possibly maple sugar/syrup from the north. It's likely that there are some settlements made here and there, but these I expect would develop largely as trade hubs rather than areas of heavy settlement and control. There's likely to be a military presence, but I would expect the French to be a LOT less heavy-handed than the Spanish. No conquistadors here most likely.

Let's assume, then, that France more or less has the Americas to itself for the first, oh, five decades or so, with other powers tentatively exploring and making contact (likely the British are among the first). The monarchy thus gains an economic and thus a military and political advantage over its enemies, and is most likely heavily invested in using this. What does the crown do with its new wealth? Well, first of all, the "beautiful 16th century" (in reality 1475 to 1630) is probably magnified even further. Wealth from the New World will inevitably trickle into the townships, likely granting them even more power early on, and an increased reliance on merchants and traders for the stability of the French state. The nobility likely weakens as a result; we may see widespread discontent in the form of civil war, which the nobility probably loses given new wealth. With the rise of townships in wealth, there is probably a corresponding rise in urban population, further weakening both the church and the nobility.

Ah, but it's foreign relations that everyone is interested in, no? In this arena, I figure a more successful Italian Wars on the part of the French, given, again, the influx of wealth. A French Milan is certainly possible, and perhaps even further (French Sicily, anyone?). Brittany is almost certainly incorporated earlier, given Nantes' immense value as a westward port. If indeed there is a Reformation, which there is likely to be given the longstanding institutional corruption in the Catholic Church, it likely goes worse for the Protestants, given that ITTL, France has no reason to side with them (by which I mean side with the German Protestants, certainly not the Huguenots) given its strengthened position, and may in fact be on the opposing side, which would mean French gains in the HRE. We may even see a reversal of the French + Protestant states vs. Catholic League dichotomy that emerged at certain points, with Spain using the Reformation as an opportunity to weaken France. Protestant on Catholic civil strife may occur as per IOTL, but I figure the Catholics win even harder than OTL as long as the Protestants don't actually convert the monarchy (which is more possible than you might think).

With that being said, none of this actually talks about the Americas, SO most likely in the mid-1500s, other powers begin to establish claims in Columbie, likely Britain and Spain first. Are there bush fights over this, as per IOTL between the French and Britain? Oh yeah. I can see burning trading posts, short and bitter wars which threaten to become larger conflicts, the usual. However, with the 'model' of colonialism being trade-based, I doubt we see many settler colonies. Even Spain, most likely, does not conquer the Aztecs or Tawantinsuyu, given that as far as they know, that's unfeasible without the model of Cortez. Keep in mind that conquistador colonialism evolved purely from the luck of Cortez. There are certainly settlements and communities in the New World; likely the Caribbean as per OTL becomes heavily populated by European settlements, given the low population of natives and the effects of plague, which will unfortunately probably wipe out Caribbean groups almost entirely, against as per OTL. But on the mainland? Most likely trade hubs and allied native nations, which is the more interesting point here.

With conflict emerging over trade, we (first of all) will see the development of a French navy, probably using NAmerican timber. We will also almost certainly see a patronage-based relationship with native nations, as various powers ally themselves with the Mohawk or what have you in order to use them essentially as auxiliaries against their enemies; in exchange for the normal trade goods, and of course, weapons. I figure European technology filters in slowly through these avenues, and we see native nations far away from the Europeans (and thus far away from the likely constant low-level conflict over trade) developing and consolidating against more technologically primitive and thus unlucky groups. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the emergence of a strong power in Mexico and among the Cherokee and similar groups in the southern *United States. Over time, it's likely that these powers will demand a more equitable relationship, which may in and of itself lead to war.

What would the future look like after this? I'm not sure. But these are my disconnected, rambling thoughts on the matter. Pass down your judgment with mercy, O Great Caesar. :p
Well sure, but they wouldn't be sending an expedition across the mid part of the Atlantic until they knew there was something to find; nobody's mistakening the West Indies for the East Indies here. Plus, whatever European power decides to get in on this is sending these expeditions earlier and under somebody other than Columbus, and is likely seeing the Carib mainly as a pit stop en route to Mesoamerica (and possibly Asia), at least at first. This is all is a pretty notable change in its own right, no?

Would anyone disagree with this much?
I would certainly agree that another discovery from the North would not lead to quick expansion. Newfoundland etc. are not very promising. If anything, they are discouraging, indicating that, yes, wherever you sail around in the Northern waters, there is just more of the kind of lands we already know from Eurasia (Iceland, the Arctic Coast of *Russia etc.). Great fish, but nothing else to want there.

The big question is if this would really discourage people to look for a Westward passage to India/China. Now, we all know that Columbus simply had his calculations wrong, so probably we don't need any serious discouragement at all if we have decreed Columbus away.

The interesting question here is HOW further exploration is going to go - that it goes slower than IOTL we can assume as a given.
And again, I would say that we should free our minds from OTL suggestions: who is to say that expansion is proceeding Southwards from, say, Newfoundland?
Yes, more developed and wealthier people live further South, but those who arrive in Newfoundland do not know that.
Yes, it's warmer and more fertile lands lie down South, but who is to say that those who arrive in Newfoundland are looking for that? They're not pre-programmed to scout for places where a massive English colonization scheme can occur. They're driven by whatever has led them here.
If they're looking for more seals, for example, it may well make a lot of sense for them to proceed Westward along the Labrador Coast, which would then end them (and could well trap expeditions for a while) in Hudson Bay.

As for relations with the indigenous, the first analogy I'd look for is the interaction between Russian Pomors and the coastal indigenous people of what is today the Indigenous People of Russia's Far North.
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Any intention of butterflying Columbus’ voyages?

If so, might I suggest - a different European power (say England under Edward V) opted to sail west first using the northern route, that would be a really cool plot line in its own right.

Absolutely! Expect Columbus to pop up in the next update. Still thinking of the permutations of that but at present I have his voyage remaining unchanged so he lands in the West Indies but circumstances dictate a very different reaction compared OTL. Thanks all for the thoughts on New World butterflies, will help me to adjust the next update accordingly.
Well look interesting if not for the fact who you have taken for true all the myths about the Woodvilles and ignored the real situation in the English court: Edward had used often the siblings of Queen Elizabeth for reinforcing his power and because he knew who he was able to count on their loyalty as they were tied too much to him.
The Woodvilles were in no way over favorited by Edward IV as all the most outrageous grants of Edward IV were in favor of his blood relatives ( his sister Anne, Duchess of Exeter and her daughters, his brothers George, Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his second son Richard, Duke of York) while the Woodville simply benefited of the lucky match of Elizabeth more or less like everyone else in their place would have.
Giving the direct control of his son(s) to Richard would a folly from Edward as while his brother was loyal to him he can not be secure who will be the same for his sons and who Richard has no ambition on the crown, plus Richard has already a very important role (and replacing him on the northern borders would be complicated and dangerous). Giving the custody of Edward, Prince of Wales to his maternal uncle instead is both the logical and smart thing to do as Rivers is the one who will protect the Prince of Wales until his last breath
following this . The idea is a good one and it is one of the most interesting english periods of history aswell.
Well look interesting if not for the fact who you have taken for true all the myths about the Woodvilles and ignored the real situation in the English court: Edward had used often the siblings of Queen Elizabeth for reinforcing his power and because he knew who he was able to count on their loyalty as they were tied too much to him.
The Woodvilles were in no way over favorited by Edward IV as all the most outrageous grants of Edward IV were in favor of his blood relatives ( his sister Anne, Duchess of Exeter and her daughters, his brothers George, Duke of Clarence and Richard, Duke of Gloucester and his second son Richard, Duke of York) while the Woodville simply benefited of the lucky match of Elizabeth more or less like everyone else in their place would have.
Giving the direct control of his son(s) to Richard would a folly from Edward as while his brother was loyal to him he can not be secure who will be the same for his sons and who Richard has no ambition on the crown, plus Richard has already a very important role (and replacing him on the northern borders would be complicated and dangerous). Giving the custody of Edward, Prince of Wales to his maternal uncle instead is both the logical and smart thing to do as Rivers is the one who will protect the Prince of Wales until his last breath
Very good point Isabella, I totally throw my hands up and say I needed Gloucester elsewhere other than the North. I accept the balance is a little off, though I will try and negate it by saying Lord Scales is a Woodville but yes Rivers is a little quiet eh? More on him next update but thanks for the advice. Rest assured theyre still in the mix and have a vital part to play in the world to come.
I should also add btw that I am a Ricardian. He was set up in my opinion and was definitely not to blame for the princes in the tower IOTL! Sarcasm aside Gloucester IOTL was dependable and reliable until May 1483 and with Edward alive I dont see how that would change. Though please do let me know your thoughts!
Another thing to keep in mind for the future of the TL - the English Reformation of OTL under Henry VIII wasn't really the completely top-down affair it was often portrayed as, since the religious life of England still had the after effects of the Lollard Movement a century prior. So even if the House of York is on far stronger footing than the House of Tudor was, that doesn't mean there won't be groundwork for politico-religious maneuverings once the shit really hits the fan on the continent.
Another thing to keep in mind for the future of the TL - the English Reformation of OTL under Henry VIII wasn't really the completely top-down affair it was often portrayed as, since the religious life of England still had the after effects of the Lollard Movement a century prior. So even if the House of York is on far stronger footing than the House of Tudor was, that doesn't mean there won't be groundwork for politico-religious maneuverings once the shit really hits the fan on the continent.
Yes John! That is part of my plans as well, so many moving parts hard to keep up. I was a big fan of Wycliffe in University so the Lollards are in there too. As for the shit hitting the fan in Europe, the Yorkists are going to be waste deep in it...
The Wars of the Roses, C Carpenter

Edward IV had recovered enough from his illness to summon Parliament for September 1485 but left much of the details to Gloucester and speaker of Parliament, William St Leger. The Parliament was brief in comparison to others but it was sufficient to tidy up after Buckingham’s rebellion. In an unprecedented move the Star Chamber was ordered to carry out the trials on the surviving rebels including Bray, the crown making clear that treason had no need for Royal control over proceedings and Bray and around 60 other officers were executed by Christmas 1485.

More broadly there were rewards for the loyal supporters of the Yorkist cause; Lord Scales was made Earl of Surrey and given some land in the south east, and William Catesby, Lord Malham, became Earl of Humber with lands in the East Riding. Yet these were additions to already established nobility. Edward Hastings became Lord Grantham with its own portion of land to add to his expected inheritance from his father. However the most surprising rewards went to the Tudors. They had proven their loyalty and utility to the Yorkist cause and in exchange they were given places within the Yorkist polity to reflect that. This was in step with Edward’s policy of forgiveness and reward throughout his two reigns, that former enemies, who proved their loyalty, and above all their skills, to the crown could be rewarded. Jasper Tudor was finally given some land in his native Wales, taking over some of Buckingham’s land and given the overlordship of Brecon, although he remained under the watchful eye of the Earl of Rivers from Ludlow. Henry Tudor, already Earl of Richmond was given some of the land taken from Thomas and Morgan in Carmarthenshire but this was more than just a reward, it was a dowry.

That Edward allowed one of his earlier rivals to marry his own daughter is nothing short of astonishing, yet it speaks to the mettle of Edward that he trusted Richmond and more importantly chose to allow Elizabeth of York to strengthen domestic ties and not foreign ones. Many have questioned the wisdom of this decision - although time would prove it to be a wise one - and legend dictates that the couple had already fallen in love and Henry Tudor had requested Elizabeth’s hand in exchange for his daring charge at Hereford. Such a romantic tale, draped in Chivalric culture, is no doubt an exaggeration but nonetheless Elizabeth and Richmond were married in October 1485 and their first child, Edmund would be born in 1487.

Chapter 4: 1486 A world of gleaming splendour

Edward V, G Bradshaw 2001

The teenage years of the future Edward V were surely those of ‘a world of gleaming splendour’ (from Caxton’s 1487 work ‘The Faire City’ dedicated to the Prince). Edward resided in the Yorkist palace of Eltham in London, and it is clear that the ‘Faire city’ had a profound impact on the young man. Edward encountered many of the people attracted to court by his father and uncles work across Europe; he was known to be good friends with William Caxton and was tutored by Dominico Mancini who wrote at length of the Prince of Wales’ intellect and his inquisitive mind which devoured new texts and ideas almost as fast as Mancini could present them.

As was tradition with the Prince of Wales, Edward was permitted a court of young men around him, these included Richard Grey, John de la Pole, James Stanley, Thomas Howard and his cousins Edward of Warwick and Edward of Middleham. This group became informally known as the Order of the Falcon after the Falcon and Fetterlock symbol which Edward liked to use frequently. At Eltham, these young men were taught the more physical requirements of men of their status; jousting, fighting, running and horseback riding. The group were also a very common sight around London with numerous Chroniclers taking note of their ‘gaudy appearance’ and ‘tempestuous nature’. Edward and his companions were well versed in the latest fashion from the continent and were also permitted to travel in a larger group, accompanying Lord Hastings to Aachen in 1486 for the election of Maximillian of Austria to the Imperial throne and participating in a tournament at Bruges. Here the Falcons distinguished themselves well and were apparently the talk of Europe, de la Pole even unseated the ageing but still vigorous Duke Sigismund of Tyrol, the Emperor’s Uncle, during a joust.

Upon his return to England, Prince Edward appears to have thrown himself back into his studies as he was attributed as one of the minds behind ‘The Faire City’ published by Caxton in 1487, widely considered to have been one of the first works based in the City of London. Like Chaucer’s work before it, the Faire City was a collection of short stories told through the eyes of various London citizens. The book was dedicated to ‘a faire prince’ by Caxton and contained one story allegedly written by the Prince; the Adventurer, concerning a young boy from Aldgate who took to the seas to find his fortune and fell foul of the Hanseatic League and later even Moorish pirates. This tale, if truly written by the Prince, speaks to Edward’s literary skills but also his love of adventure. Royal writs exist from 1486 issuing titles of incorporation to the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild of London. This company had been supported by Edward IV in the past but the renewal of their incorporation in 1486 includes the following line ‘...and in response to the beseeching of his majesty the Prince of Wales… to incorporate a Guild within the City of London with all licenses...;’

This seemingly mundane document is the first written account of the future Edward V’s involvement in overseas trade and exploration, and given his influence over the New World after its discovery in 1491, it is also clear that Edward was interested in exploration from a very young age. There has been much ink and fiction spilled on this subject so here it will suffice to say that Prince Edward was heavily involved in the Adventurer’s guild and would often include the Order of the Falcon as Howard’s later role in particular would demonstrate, yet no influence on the future King may have been greater in these years than that of the Columbus brothers.

Exploration in the Age of York, J Slight 2014

After the rejection of Isabella of Castile in 1486, Christopher and Bartholomew Columbus were running out of options for funding their voyage to the Indies across the Ocean Sea (Atlantic). Portugal had already turned them down, as had Venice and Genoa with war brewing on the continent. The pair considered France and the Holy Roman Empire, but both had relatively new rulers who were looking to fight each other and certainly not become embroiled in a risky overseas investment.

That left one realm in Europe with even remotely enough capital to fund the fabulously expensive voyage; England. The brothers were in luck; King Edward IV had possessed a casual interest in exploration, and especially the chance of good financial return, since the 1470s and had taken a rather unexpected control over trade, allowing numerous Merchant guilds to form and even outlawing the Hanseatic League in England for a time to allow them to grow. Yet the ace in the Columbus’ hand was the Prince of Wales. When Christopher and Bartholomew landed in England in September 1486, Prince Edward had already developed his father’s keen interest in overseas trade as his involvement in the Merchant Adventurer’s Guild and his contribution to the Faire City demonstrate.

The circumstances of the Columbus’ meeting at the royal court have been lost to legend and mired in fiction since they first occurred. Royal tutor, Dominic Mancini records that the brothers were ‘no more than mere brigands whose honied words seeped into the ears of the King’ although Mancini’s Venetian heritage no doubt put him at odds with the Genoese sailors. However what is clear is that the Columbus brothers somehow managed to convince the House of York to sponsor their endeavor with Royal documents from the time ordering that the brothers each receive £100 a year from the royal purse and ‘every modicum of board, lodgings, and shipworks necessary for their cause’ from every borough in England.

This was by no means an open route to the west, and many years of preparation and setbacks would ensue, but what no-one could appreciate at the time was the way in which the old and new world would be transformed by this new arrangement between the York and Columbus families.

Chapter 5: 1487 A Parting of the Ways

‘Edward IV: the later years’ Richard Partington in English Historical Review 2005

Edward IV, King of England breathed his last on the 27th November 1487. The fact that he died peacefully in his sleep in an age when so many had died in battle was a testament to the skill in which he ruled his realm, and as Carpenter has noted ‘this was the best of ends for such a worldly prince.’ It was certainly Edward’s worldly nature which killed him; his penchant for taking an emetic in order to gorge himself again is legendary as was his lecherous nature, demonstrated by at least three bastards. Nonetheless it is unclear what killed the King before his 45th birthday, it could have been any manner of illnesses related to his weight or nocturnal exploits, or something else entirely.

However what is clear is that the last five years of his reign truly salvaged his legacy. The Scottish border remained quiet after the successful invasion of 1482 and matters over the channel had been solid since Hastings’ embassy of 1483-1484. At home the illness of 1483 had seemed to spur Edward to redouble his efforts to continue building the foundations of what has become known as the ‘New Monarchy’. An increasingly powerful and central Monarch who relied on a handful of trusted men to exercise his will was twinned with a progressively more skilled, and in some cases, independent judiciary (albeit on a very tight leash). Paramount amongst these changes were the creation of the semi-permanent Lord Protector and the Marshall of England awarded to Gloucester and Hastings respectively who were responsible for the internal and external defence of the realm at the behest and direction of the King.

Aside from these political changes Edward IV also continued his support for new ideas and culture, most notably through William Caxton, and William Hussey to a lesser extent. In his later years Edward demonstrated the behaviour of a man who finally realised that he was living on borrowed time and had the confidence to expand his Kingship to his perceived limits. These actions, spearheaded by the Redemption Parliament, created a vibrant political, intellectual and cultural scene in London which Edward’s own son benefitted from.

Since Edward’s move to London under his uncle Gloucester in 1483 he had continued his education in all the necessary skills required to be a King with the support of Dominic Mancini, William Caxton, Richard Grey, Earl Rivers and Lord Hastings. Aged sixteen when his father died, Edward V was now far more prepared than he had been in 1483 when his father had looked to be dying, and more importantly he did not carry the fear of the Woodvilles into power but the hopes and expectations of a whole realm.

Edward IV’s will, altered again in 1487, carried this optimism with it. Although it has been lost to history, Mancini’s records show that Edward left Gloucester in position as Lord Protector (although Edward V was able to override this after his coronation). To his family Edward left the Duchy of York and March to his son Richard, Edward V retaining Cornwall and Wales for such time as heir was born. To Elizabeth he granted a series of manors in the Welsh marches as a gift for her son Edmund Tudor who had been born earlier in the year. For Cecily also a small sum of money for her daughter Elizabeth, born with Edward Hastings, Lord Bourne in 1486. Mancini also claims that Edward left a series of instructions for Gloucester, Rivers, Hastings, Hull, Dorset and Derby ranging from foreign policy to marriage recommendations, but whether these were ever followed, or even existed, is open to debate.

What cannot be disputed is Carpenter’s claim that Edward IV was ‘one of the greatest of English Kings’. By all accounts a man who became King at the age of 18 upon his fathers’ murder and not only repaired years of neglect by Henry VI but built the political, economic and cultural foundations of a dynasty deserves to be recognised and celebrated as a great statesman.
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I am enjoying this! I am not convinced that a reformed Edward IV would allow both his eldest daughters to marry domestically, I think one of them, at least, might have married abroad, especially to help shore up her father's Breton and anti-French alliance, but I am a sucker for surviving House of York TLs, so I shall let you off, at least this time. Mancini being installed as the Prince of Wales's tutor made me smile. Nice nod to a famous chronicler, that. What's happened to Anne Neville, by the way? Has not being Queen saved her life, or is she dead? And how's Cecily Neville doing, now that she's outlived yet another of her sons?
@CrepedCrusader I know Elizabeth married Henry Tudor, but who did Catherine marry again? I think Falcon might be confusing the king's daughter with his sister in law, Catherine Woodville.

She was only 13 at the time of the PoD, and had just turned 18 at the time of her father's TTL death, so I'd say she has time to be married off yet.
The second daughter of Edward IV is Cecily who in this TL married Edward Hasting, Lord Bourne not Catherine who is the fourth surviving girl
Yeah I teach this period in school and the students get annoyed at all the Annes Elizabeths Richards and Edwards. Correct there is Anne of York who marries Thomas Howard ITL too, both Edward IVs sons get foreign matches so thought domestic ones for daughters would be fine but I take the point, will adjust in the next update. Next update includes the first 4 years of Edward V including the discovery of the New World and a rebellion too and war in Europe. Its a lot to fit in!
Chapter 6: 1488 A Faire Prince

Edward V G Bradshaw 2001

After the coronation of Edward V on the 14th of January 1488 a new Parliament was held for the next two months. There followed endless oaths of fealty from the many Lords of the realm which passed entirely without a hitch but it appears Edward was itching to get down to business; the rolls of Parliament showing that the speaker, William Stanley, beseeched the Parliament to hurry matters in order to hear the King on a number of occasions.

When Edward V finally got his chance, the not quite 17 year old king hit the ground running. He began by reaffirming his Uncle Richard of Gloucester as Lord Protector, to the assent and surprise of no-one. Slightly more surprising was the removal of Hastings as Constable and Marshall of England as he was ‘retired’ to the Exchequer leaving the role to Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers. It is well known that Edward loved his uncle, and had been raised by him at Ludlow until 1483, but it is hard to say that Rivers was well liked by all of Parliament. Rivers was a Woodville and so carried some resentment through his name alone, yet Rivers was a paragon of Chivalry; he had written a number of books, was an accomplished jouster, had met the Pope and gone on Crusade in Spain. He was a good choice as Marshall and his tenure in the role saw a greater emphasis on Burgundy and antagonism with France. Given later events it is almost possible to surmise that Edward chose Rivers for his martial skill over the more passive Hastings.

Edward V also reaffirmed his commitment to his fathers’ policies and talked of ‘good governance, wise taxes, and a kind heart.’ He immediately re-published Sommnium Vigilantis restating the need for constant vigilance and the need for a close group of a handful of nobles around the King. It is also clear from later events that the Falcon Parliament, as it became known, saw the beginning of Edward’s adaptations in the area of Kingship. The Star Chamber was reaffirmed in its role as a Royal Judiciary free from Royal influence with John Fineux still in the chair, but with an additional four justices, taking the total to nine. This was accompanied by another republication, this time of Hussey’s Libertate Legum and a commitment to uphold the law. As had become common an Ordinance of accounts and justices was also called for in order to trim any fat from the legal and financial organs of government. It is clear that all of these policies were well met with Mancini (now promoted from Royal tutor to Keeper of the King’s scroll) recording that there was a loud assent to all the King’s demands, although of course Mancini was not impartial.

As was also traditional the new King granted numerous rewards to his servants and companions. Hastings was made Chancellor of the Exchequer and Warden of the King’s Chamber, a largely ceremonial role with a £500 annual pension. Rivers was awarded more land around Calais and in the Welsh Marches alongside his new role and John Fineux was made a Baron. However the greatest rewards fell to the ‘Falcons’. Throughout the last few years of his childhood, Edward V had been well-accompanied and supported by a small band of brothers and now these new men were to form the nucleus of a new court, very much the addition of young blood.

Firstly Edward’s 14 year old brother Richard became Duke of York and Wiltshire with a new portion of land to boot, he was also made Constable of Calais, a position under the Captain of Calais, Earl Rivers, and it was clear from early on that Edward intended his brother to apprentice to Anthony Woodville on his journeys to the continent. Yet the Duke of York had been a new addition to the Falcons, and his aggrandisement was assured by his siblingship alone, the rest was Edward rewarding what he saw as youth, talent and loyalty. Richard Grey became Guardian of Carnarfon, and was granted large lands in north Wales until such time as there was a Prince of Wales, whilst also receiving lands in Staffordshire and Suffolk outright along with the title Baron Newbury. John de la Pole, already Earl of Lincoln by birth, became Seneschal of Winchester, making him responsible for all defences along the south coast and under the watchful eye of his Great Uncle Gloucester. James Stanley became Lord Maze, keeper of the Privy Seal and would remain on the Royal Council assisted by Hastings. Thomas Howard, to reflect his already strong interest in the sea and the Merchant Adventurers Guild became Admiral of England, a role which would come to define him. Finally for the Royal cousins, Edward of Warwick would be granted some land in the north, a place on the Council of the North still led by John Fox, and a marriage to Alice Scrope, heiress to last in North Yorkshire. As for Edward of Middleham, he would receive some land in Welsh Marches but also a marriage to Elizabeth Herbert, heir to the dormant Pembroke title. The impact of these awards has been much debated elsewhere but suffice to say Edward V was able to carefully place his close friends across key areas of the realm to learn their trade and grow into greater positions as the reign progressed.

The final matter which Edward addressed was his own marriage; he repeated his commitment, laid out in the 1483 Treaty of Pontivy that he would marry Anne of Brittany and thus strengthening his commitment to the continent. He also agreed to send the promised Free Company to Brittany led by Lord Scales, which departed in April 1488. Finally the Parliament closed with a mass and a large tour of the shires by the royal party (Edward, the Falcons, Gloucester, Rivers and more).

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

The ascendency of Edward V to the throne of England in 1487 was not well met in France. Charles VIII, King since 1483 and with lofty ambitions, was unhappy for a number of reasons. Charles is believed to have been bent upon expanding French influence beyond its existing sphere; Brittany, Burgundy, Flanders, Savoy, Italy and Calais if he could, but the Falcon Parliament of 1488 put severe brakes on those plans. Charles had already been denied his top two marriage choices of Anne of Brittany and Margaret of Austria to the York brothers through treaties in 1483 and 1484, leaving him to marry Beatrice of Naples in a marriage which was neither happy nor advantageous (Beatrice bore no surviving children). Now Charles saw the new Yorkist King as an even further threat to his plans.

Perhaps Charles had hoped that the 16 year old Edward V would be naive or weak in his early years, but the Falcon Parliament proved him wrong. Not only did Edward V confirm his marriage to Anne of Brittany (bringing the Duchy firmly under English control) but he was good friends with Maximillian of Austria (having been present at his election in 1486) and dispatched a small military force to Brittany. This was Charles’ worse nightmare; England could no surround him on three fronts. In a rage Charles ordered raids into Brittany in the late summer of 1488, hoping to catch the harvests in the field and do maximum damage. The raids led by Louis of Orleans were successful in causing panic in Brittany and forcing Duke Francis to rely on English help which was not forthcoming. The only aid Edward V was able to supply at short notice was the English Free Company; 1000 men (mostly mounted Welsh archers) led by Lord Scales. However what should have been mere minor border skirmishes held great future significance; during a raid at Plemet in October 1488 the English Free Company was able to repel the French invaders, but it cost Lord Scales his life, a crossbow bolt under the arm killing him within three days. Scales was a Woodville, and a close friend of the King, and had even led the reserve at the Battle of Hereford. His death was a blow to the English royal family, and his older brother Rivers was incensed. This caused a cascading chain of events which would lead to war.

1489 Trinity

Edward V KB McFarlane 1975

The year of 1489 was the calm before the storm. Following the death of Lord Scales in Brittany, not to mention Charles VIII’s sabre-rattling on the border, Edward and the entire Royal Court knew that war was coming, it was just a matter of when. Accordingly the young monarch set about strengthening his hand. Underpinning Edward’s entire reign was The White Book written by the King himself. It is thought that Edward was aided by his tutor Dominic Mancini, John Rous, William Hussey, John Fox, John Fineux and even some continental influences picked up on his earlier journeys.

The naming of the White Book was symbolic; it was clearly intended as a companion to Edward IV’s Black Book of the 1470s, but whereas the Black Book focused on the functioning of courtly custom, its White companion was more intent on the external projection of Royal Power. This work has been seen by many historians as the culmination of late Medieval political thought in England, combining the work of Fortescue, Hussey, Edward and others with newer ideas from the continent and is regarded, though debatable, as one of the first Renaissance political texts. Nonetheless the White Book gives us a great insight into Edward V’s perception of Kingship and how his own later performance compared to his initial theories.

The central tenet of the White Book was what has become known as the divine right of Kings; the unalienable and unquestionable God-given authority of an anointed monarch; to challenge one was to challenge God and incite charges of treason. In the words of the book itself, the right of Kings was ‘as plain as night follows day’. This was undoubtedly a necessary step given the malaise of Henry VI and the numerous rebellions under Edward IV. Yet beyond this central pillar Edward V outlined a more unique understanding of Kingship. The King’s power might be unassailable but he was not omnipresent, and the White Book more than any other document laid out the complex nature of overlapping royal administrations and bureaucracies.

The White Book ascribed to Sommnium Vigilantis and therefore codified the roles of Lord Protector and High Marshall; their roles were to exist indefinitely at the pleasure of the King with a carefully selected scope of power concerning internal and external representation of the King respectively. Yet this was just the start; the Chancellor of the Exchequer was to have greater scope also, along with the Chief Justice, who it was envisaged could use the Star Chamber under their own authority when it was required. All of these expanded powers relied on an increasingly large and skilled bureaucracy with royal coffers showing that the number of clerks and other personnel increased by around 25% during the first ten years of Edwards’ reign. To support this Edward endowed Mortimer College Cambridge (OTL Jesus) and Ware College for the training and education of clerks and administrators.

However the final chapters of the White Book suggest Edward’s preparations for a coming war. There was much minute re-arrangement of local management with the Council of Wales and Council of the North becoming codified and joined by the Council of the West under the Marquess of Dorset, which in the same way managed justice in the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. Yet the biggest changes came with the Sheriffs which were made redundant, and although still elected by the locals in each county became no more than ceremonial positions. Instead Royal Justiciars were to be appointed by the King in each locality to take on the role of justice, assisting the Councils there, whilst tax collections and the mustering of soldiers and yeoman fell to the Seneschals.

The Seneschals were a reinvented position, which had been previously used in more military situations but now took on the responsibilities for taxation and defence at local levels. These were again appointed by the king, although in the Councilries these could be taken from suggestions of the Council, and given jurisdiction over a county. However each group of counties was overseen by a Grand Seneschal who had the role of coordinating local defence and were exclusively appointed by the King. These Grand Seneschals numbered 16 at first and were higher in frequency in more sensitive or remote areas.

It is hard to truly assess the impact of the White Book, there were clearly many practical changes, but the ideological changes are much more vague. Edward clearly represented a change in Royal governance but this was more gradual than a total revolution and in most places he still relied entirely on Medieval institutions, albeit with a new coat of paint and slight re-direction.

Anne of Brittany, H Castor in English Historical Review 2009

The Marriage of Anne of Brittany was almost a decade in the making, and had already caused bloodshed by the time it was carried out in February 1489 at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Charles VIII was still incensed that the marriage represented an alliance between England and Brittany and spelled doom for his plans to absorb the Duchy, the second son of the marriage would stand to inherit the entire Duchy, lashing it to the English Crown for generations. Furthermore Edward Woddville, Lord Scales had already lost his life for the alliance.

However it seems that Anne took to her new role well and was not deterred by the complications which had swirled around her marriage. It seems that the marriage was especially blessed as it was soon announced that Anne was pregnant and she gave birth to a girl - Elizabeth of Deal - by the end of the year. The marriage also of course cemented the Anglo-Breton alliance, vital given Charles’ increasing willingness to raid into Brittany.

Yet this was but the first step in Edward V’s plan to isolate and encircle France as his father had failed to do. In summer 1489 Rivers and a large English declaration set sail for Calais where they met with Pierre Landais, Chancellor of Brittany and Margaret of Burgundy, Edward V’s uncle but also regent of Burgundy. Here Rivers was successful in combining the Ypern and Pontivy treaties into the one Treaty of Calais which was signed in October 1489. Officially the treaty was merely a commitment of friendship and advantageous trade between the three territories, but of course this hid an even more serious agreement. The Treaty of Calais was essentially a mutual defence pact, in the event of French aggression against any one, all three would declare war. This was a diplomatic masterstroke and Rivers and Edward must be given credit for this. In more detail the Treaty confirmed English commitments of 500 and 1,000 soldiers to Brittany and Burgundy respectively which were to be based in St Malo and Calais. St Malo was leased to the English for a 50 year term in exchange for an annual rent of £1,000. Finally the alliance was cemented on the Burgundian end through the confirmed marriage of Prince Richard to Margaret of Austria in 1490 with the dowry agreed as the County of Artois and the port of Ostend which would become a major boon to the English wool trade, not to mention wider commerce over the next century. All told 1489 was a successful year for Edward, he laid the groundwork for his wider reign but also prepared for war with France, a decision which would prove wise within a year.
1490 part 1
Chapter 8: 1490 Hell Unleashed

Hell Unleashed: Europe 1483-1495 J Watts 1994

As 1490 began King Charles VIII of France put his plan into motion. The King had to break the Treaty of Calais and show it to be impotent, and to this end he had two aces up his sleeve. In late 1489 the Earl of Oxford had been sprung from his prison at Hammes near Calais and taken to Paris to meet the King. De Vere was the final die-hard of the Lancastrian cause, and had been captured after Tewkesbury in 1471. Yet Edward IV had shown his typical mercy and sent him to Hammes with a small guard and staff to live out his days in a sort of house arrest. Consequently, it was relatively easy for French agents to release him, although it soon became clear that this rescue would come at a price. Oxford was introduced to the French King and his pet project: Laurent Foucare.

The origins of Laurent Foucare have been lost to History, but it is believed that he came to the attention of Charles VIII in the autumn of 1489. Foucare was around 30 years old, tall, muscular with a straight face and long blond hair, yet crucially he had in his possession a number of Lancasttrian relics; a crowned swan on a golden chain and a royal seal from the age of Henry VI. The provenance of these items must surely be spurious but if accurate, their origin must surely have come from Margaret of Anjou, widow to Henry VI, who died in 1482 in a convent in Anjou. Regardless, Foucare possessed the necessary items, and also the looks, to pass for Edward of Westminster, the son of Margaret and Henry VI. That the real Edward had perished on the field of Tewkesbury aged 18 was considered a minor point; Charles VIII had prepared an elaborate story that Edward had in fact escaped the battle and sought the protection of Oxford before having escaped to France with his mother, waiting for her passing before taking up his rightful throne. The Edward killed at Tewkesbury, so the story went, was an imposter killed by Edward IV designed to kill off the Lancastrian line for ever. The price for Oxford’s freedom would be his sponsorship and support of ‘Edward of Lancaster’ in an invasion of England to place the Prince on his ‘rightful’ throne. Oxford was vital to gain legitimacy but also Lancastrian sympathisers as a few still remained.

These plans were expedited in the spring of 1490 after Edward V’s new taxation was not well met in the south west and in Wales; Oxford intended to use this discontent to increase his support. The plan was to gain clandestine allegiance from the more minor nobility and gentry deemed sympathetic and then launch an invasion through one of these areas, draw out the royal army and then destroy it. To aid him in his plan Oxford was given a force of 5,000 Swiss mercenaries under Martin Schwartz and a further 2,000 men from the Royal Scots Guards. However what Oxford and Foucare cannot have known at this time was that this was a diversion. It is unclear whether Charles genuinely believed that this plan could have succeeded, and although he gave it significant backing, it faced an uphill struggle against the young king and his entrenched court. Instead, given later events, it would seem that the Remnant Rebellion, as this plan became known, was merely intended to divert the English throne from the true threat. As Oxford readied his multinational force, Charles raised a grand army of 40,000 men including scores of newly devised and cast culverins and other artillery designed to break the walls of Calais and Bruges, not only severing the link between England and Burgundy geographically, but also politically as the English would break their promise under the treaty of Calais to support Burgundy. It was certainly an ambitious plan, but in the spring of 1490 it posed a serious threat to Edward V.

Remnant by Conn Iggulden 2011

Jasper Tudor, Lord Moreton, sat by the roaring fire in his hall, the flames spitting with the rain coming down the chimney, the wind howled outside. In his hand he held a small pendant: a white swan with a golden crown around its neck, hanging from a long golden chain. It was exquisite and had clearly taken a lot of skill and money to make. Tudor held the pendant up against the light from the fire and studied it carefully.

‘And he gave this as proof of his identity?’ he said to his steward, Rhys.

‘Yes my Lord’ replied Rhys. ‘He said it would convince you of his name and his cause’

‘Hm’ mused the elderly lord, he would be 70 next year he thought, but his mind had lost none of its sharpness or his eyes none of their curiosity. ‘Very well’ he said at length. ‘Have Thomas bring him in.

With a bow Rhys left to carry out his task, leaving Jasper Tudor to his thoughts and the swan jewel. His mind carried him back to a past life, and a younger man, to Coventry in the 36th year of King Henry’s reign. The Queens’ council, strange how he could remember it like it was yesterday, there was his brother Edmund, the old Duke of Buckingham, Somerset who never had a smile on his face, Oxford a young man then, and at the head of the table Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, this jewel clutched in her hand. So long ago now, a past life, and one which Tudor had believed was long dead and buried, but now it was here, back to haunt him.

With that thought, the door to the hall creaked open as Thomas, one of Tudor’s guards, stepped into the dark room, the pommel of his sword gleaming in the flickering fire-light. Behind him came a hooded man, even now dripping small drops of rain onto the rushes strewn across the floor.

‘Thank you Thomas’ said Jasper ‘Please wait in the corner, I may have need of you yet.’

As Thomas retreated, the hooded figure stepped forward towards the rim of light from the fireplace. He did not take the empty chair and he was not offered it.

‘Where did you get this?’ Demanded Tudor holding up the Swan pendant.

‘From its rightful owner my Lord’, said the man as he removed his hood sending more rain gushing onto the floor. The man was old, grey swirls chasing the black hair across his head and down into his beard. His face was lined, but his grey eyes still sparkled in the light. It had been a long time since Jasper Tudor had seen the man, in that old life, the one he thought dead; he felt that he was staring at a ghost.

Jasper gave a tired sigh. ‘Its been a long time my friend, and now you darken my door with this…..this claim?’ He wasn’t sure what to call it yet.

‘My Lord, I can assure you that the claim is genuine’ replied Sir Henry Bodrugan. ‘My master is the rightful king of England, Edward of Westminster, now styling himself as Edward of Lancaster, King Edward V, the rightful King of England and France, lord of Ireland and Prince of Wales.’

Jasper Tudor did not have patience for this. ‘stop, stop, Henry and do remove that cloak and have a seat.’

Bodrugan did as he was bid, hanging the cloak on a hook by the fire. As he settled in the chair, Tudor began again.

‘Edward of Westminster is dead Henry, I got word of that myself days after Tewkesbury, whoever this imposter is he is nothing more than a plant from the French King designed to sow division in this realm, and I would have thought you would know better.’ he continued ‘and the country is restless now, these new taxes are not going down well with the lesser folk and the last thing I need now is mad talk of the long lost heir of Lancaster emerging to claim his so called birthright.’

He studied Henry Bodrugan closely, the younger man did not avert his gaze. ‘My Lord, the peasantry are chafing under a usurper and illegitimate King, Edward is the rightful King, and he requests your aid in his cause, will you accept?’

‘Ha! You mean Charles Valois requests my aid. No Henry I will not chase after this folly with you and John de Vere, Lord above knows I have had my fill of all this nonsense.’

‘But Jasper you once swore your allegiance to this boy and his mother and father, you even captured Harlech for them, why do you abandon them now?’

‘BECAUSE THIS IS MADNESS!’ Barked Tudor, he had lost his patience now, and Bodrugan’s attempt to desperately appeal to him using his name had not helped. ‘No it is well Thomas’ Tudor said with a slight hand towards the swordsman in the corner, who had taken half a step forward. Tudor took a deep breath and stared at Bodrugan across from him. The Cornishman was unmoved by the outburst and sat there, almost like a statue with the fire drawing dancing shapes in the shadows of his face, waiting for a reply.

‘Henry, I once was that man you speak of, I know my own past. I know I once pledged to serve the House of Lancaster. But those days are gone; dead on the fields of Barnet and Tewkesbury, it is best to leave the dead where they are buried, not dig them up to make mayhem and mischief. Lancaster and its line are dead Henry, I feel it in my bones, the last claim lies in Henry and he has left that well behind him, the cause is ended. There is no good in bringing up this….this remnant.’ Tudor held up the swan jewel and peered at it, memories of a past life drifting before him. ‘I suppose you would not tell me any of your masters’ plans?’

‘No my Lord, I am sworn to secrecy’ replied Bodrugan ‘and I sense you will not be answering his call, and therefore I ask for safe passage from your land.’

Jasper Tudor thought about that for a moment. ‘I am the King’s Seneschal Henry I cannot ferment rebellion against him.’ Another pause ‘Yet we were friends once, you and I, and I did bear Margaret no ill will. For her sake I shall grant your request.’

Sir Henry Bodrugan finally elicited a small reaction, a relieved sigh that could easily have been an exhalation. ‘Thank you my Lord.’ He said rising to his feet and giving a small bow, he extended his hand slightly for the swan jewel.

‘No I shall hang onto this I think.’ Said Tudor. ‘I am giving you your life Henry, I am not about to give you the means to cause chaos as well, ride for Milford and leave this country, if I see you again I shall have choice but to exact the King’s justice.’

Bodrugan had donned the wet cloak, now merely damp. ‘Thank you my Lord’

‘Thomas, see Sir Henry back to his horse and give him provisions for two days, take him as far as Canaston and see he is on his way to Milford.’

As the two left and the door creaked shut, Tudor turned back to the fire, by now dimming to a lower ember yet radiating heat. In the failing gloom he held up the Swan and its crown so that it glinted in the fire. He thought of Margaret, now dead, and Henry, now dead, Edmund, dead, Buckingham, dead, Somerset, dead, only he and de Vere still remained. ‘Leave the past buried’ he muttered to himself as he threw the Swan into the hearth where it gave a small thud. Jasper Tudor, loyal servant to Edward V of the house of York watched as the Swan glowed and oozed and then quickly melted to molten lump of lead amid the dying embers of a once great flame.
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Sorry for the delay, been a mad week! Here is a small appetizer, hopefully more to come tomorrow or Monday. 1490 is going to be a pretty big year so I wanted to make it as good as possible, hence also the delay