Succession

Succession by Livi Michael Read Free Book Online

Book: Succession by Livi Michael Read Free Book Online
Authors: Livi Michael
suffocated in his bed, between two mattresses, or else ‘thrust into the bowel with a hot burning spit’, while others, more inventively, said he had been drowned in wine and dried again. Whatever they imagined, almost all were agreed that he had been foully murdered, and no viewing of the body changed their minds. Those few who reminded them that the duke was old and fat and drank to excess were shouted down, though some were prepared to concede that he could have died from shock and grief because of the nature of the accusations levelled against him.
    There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that Suffolk was to blame: Suffolk, who was giving away their lands in France piecemeal, and enriching himself in the process, so it was said; Suffolk, who had brokered a dishonourable deal with the French, and brought them a worthless queen
.
    Within days of the Good Duke’s death, the mysterious alchemy of public opinion was turning supposition into truth: Gloucester had been murdered and Suffolk had arranged it. The king, who was famously pious, could never have done such a thing. Suffolk had taken it upon himself to rule the king and country both, and was even now bedding their worthless queen.
    Gloucester himself, bellicose, degenerate and profligate, was remembered for his kindness, his many deeds of patronage, his willingness to stand and fight – not for marrying a witch who had conspired to put him on the throne.
    For who now would stand between them and those wolves and jackals surrounding the king? Who would defend them against the French?
    Many people turned out to mourn Gloucester, or to touch his shroud, for it was already said that miracles might occur, and the people needed a miracle to save them from the disorder and lack of governance in the land, for the country stood on the brink of ruin and disgrace.
     
And anon after the death of the Duke of Gloucester there were arrested many of the said duke’s servants, to the number of twenty-eight squires, beside other servants that never imagined the falseness of which they were accused. And on Friday the 9th day of July next following, by judgement at Westminster, five persons were damned to be drawn, hanged and their bowels burned before them, and then their heads to be smitten off, and then to be quartered, and every part to be sent unto divers places by assignment of the judges … [and] on the said day [they] were drawn from St George’s throughout Southwark and on London Bridge, and so through the City of London to Tyburn, and there they were hanged, and the ropes smitten asunder, they being still living, and then, before any more marks of execution were done, the [Earl] of Suffolk brought them all a general pardon and grace from our lord and sovereign, King Harry the VI.
    Gregory’s Chronicle
     
And all the commons of the realm began to murmur and were not content.
    Brut Chronicle
     
     

11
     

The Duke of York Accepts a Commission
     
     
And in that same year the Duke of York, Richard Plantagenet, was exiled into Ireland for rebellion … fully and falsely as it was afterwards known.
    Gregory’s Chronicle
     
     
    He had already pulled off his boots, sent for wine and was sitting in front of a roaring fire when his wife came in. She walked towards him eagerly, then stopped at the look on his face.
    ‘Well?’ she said.
    ‘Ireland,’ he said, looking into the fire.
    ‘Ireland? Not France?’
    There was only a slight alteration in his face; his eyelids flickered downwards. Then he leaned forward and poked one of the logs back on to the fire.
    ‘So who is Lieutenant of France?’ she said.
    ‘Somerset.’
    She made a small sound that might have been a snort of disgust. He poured wine for them both.
    ‘The king looks forward to me subduing his land of Ireland,’ he said.
    ‘I’m sure he does,’ she said. ‘And he will provide you with much money, and many ships.’
    The duke only glanced at her sideways. Everyone knew that the king had

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