The Last Duke of the West
Hi, I've been lurking on here for some time now, reading some favourite timelines, and I've been inspired to write something of my own. I haven't been able to find anything really similar on AH.com (although no doubt someone will immediately be able to point me to something very close, that I've missed!), so hopefully this will be a bit different for people to read.
Some things I should say before I start posting the timeline itself:
- This timeline will not continue up to or beyond the present day; there comes a point when the foreseeable direct consequences of the POD have been reached, and the scope of the timeline has widened so far, that thereafter I would be simply writing what I wished to happen rather than what I could plausibly justify.
- I've tried to maintain analogues and resonances to OTL, so where there are events – battles, deaths, marriages – in OTL, there will probably be similar events TTL, but possibly somewhere or someone else will be involved, and/or there'll be a different outcome
- I also tend towards the view that almost everything will stay the same unless directly affected, so many events will happen the same, or turn out similarly
- The start is, I feel, a bit of a slow burner, and in addition it's perhaps not so obvious as to where I'm going, so I hope you'll be intrigued enough to stick with it.
- Although I have written much of this before I begin posting, to ensure I don't disappear with it halfwritten, I will be having a hiatus part way through because there is a point where (if there's sufficient interest) I want to ask people their views on how certain aspects of this might develop.
- Lastly, I shall be posting twice a week or so up to the hiatus; this should take about 6 weeks or so.
I hope you enjoy it.
Book One: The Saltire Raguly
Paris: November 14th, 1432
'A hard day, out there,' said the newcomer as he entered the hall. He clapped his hat against his leg, shedding rainwater on the rush-strewn floor as he walked over to the fire to warm himself.
'Not an easy one here, either,' replied one of the knot of men clustered around the hearth.
Eyes flicked upwards to the ceiling. 'Confined, since just after lauds. It goes hard with her.'
'I thought it would be close to her time. And His Grace -?'
'In the solar. Working with the clerks; when he's not fretting about her.'
The visitor touched his beard, untied his cloak. 'I'll go in to him if you think it good. I have letters from Rouen.'
'I'll bring you to him.' One of the men detached himself from the group and led the messenger away.
* * *
'Sir Aubrey, your Grace.'
'Your Grace.' The two men bowed as they entered. A servant closed the door carefully behind them. The solar was warm, the air close: heavy drapes kept out the wind and the hard weather of autumnal Paris. Two clerks scratched away at desks piled with documents. John, Duke of Bedford, brother of the Henry of England who won at Agincourt, and regent of France for Henry the son that had succeeded him, turned to face them. His smile said he was pleased to see them; his eyes spoke of distraction.
'From Rouen, Aubrey?'
'Yes, sir. Letters from the archbishop, the constable, and some from home: your brother, Humphrey, and your bailiff.'
'Thank you, Aubrey. Anything else?'
'No, sir. Although, may I say, I will pray for the Lady Anne's safe delivery.'
'Thank you.' A slight nod, but no smile.
There was a sound outside the door, before it was opened in haste. A man – a doctor by his habit, half-walked, half-fell into the chamber.
'Sir, your wife -'
'What news, man?'
'Delivered of a child. The lady lives, but the child, sir - ' The doctor's voice faltered.
'She lives, though? The Lady Anne lives?'
'Aye, sir.' He grew more confident. 'And is like to do so. It was not an easy passage for her, but by God's will, we have prevailed and she is strong yet. Sir.'
'The child, though. It... it was - ?' The Duke, Henry of of Monmouth's right hand, who had fought the French and Scots like a wolf, and governed with an iron will, could not say the words.
'A girl, your Grace. It lived a few minutes, no more. The priest was there to bless her, and pray for mother and child.'
'Good. Good.' A pause. 'You may go now. See the doctors and those attending are thanked, and paid. The priests at Notre Dame will pray for her, make sure of it.'
'And send for me as soon as I may see her.'
'Yes, sir.' The doctor withdrew, bowing.
'God be praised, she lives,' The tall, soldierly figure leant both hands on the clerks' desk, nudging papers to the floor, unnoticed. His head bowed. 'Anne lives.'
OTL, Anne died along with her child. Her husband, John Duke of Bedford, was distraught, which indicated that theirs had been a happy marriage, but he married again barely five months later, to Jacquetta of Luxembourg. The OTL consequences of this will be clarified in Chapter Two.
TTL, Anne survives, and she and her husband continue what appears to have been a close and strong relationship.