I’d liked to welcome a guest post from Mercedes Rochelle who is touring with Mary Anne Yarde’s Coffee Pot Blog Tours for the release of her latest novel.
Today Mercedes offers us a glimpse of her second novel in The Plantagenet Legacy with an excerpt from The King’s Retribution
Publication date: 4/1/2020
Publisher: Sergeant Press
If you read A KING UNDER SIEGE, you might remember that we left off just as Richard declared his majority at age 22. He was able to rise above the humiliation inflicted on him during the Merciless Parliament, but the fear that it could happen again haunted him the rest of his life. Ten years was a long time to wait before taking revenge on your enemies, but King Richard II was a patient man. Hiding his antagonism toward the Lords Appellant, once he felt strong enough to wreak his revenge he was swift and merciless. Alas for Richard, he went too far, and in his eagerness to protect his crown Richard underestimated the very man who would take it from him: Henry Bolingbroke.
You can get your copy at Amazon.com
EXCERPT: The Queen’s funeral
Fortunately, the next day dawned warm and sunny and once they had broken their fast the attendees lined up for the procession. The men were to ride on horseback and the women in covered wagons behind the vehicle carrying Queen Anne’s coffin with its black canopy. The meticulously carved wooden effigy, draped in velvet robes, looked so realistic you could almost see it breathing. Every time Richard passed it, he looked aside, blinking back his tears.
On his way to the front of the cortège, the king paused next to John of Gaunt. “Where is the Earl of Arundel?” he asked angrily, looking around. He hated the man, but that didn’t excuse the earl from attending. It was a matter of respect.
“Perhaps my brother knows,” said John, gesturing to Gloucester. “They are friends.”
Richard grimaced. He had no love for Thomas, Duke of Gloucester either. Although six years had passed since the terrible Merciless Parliament—six years while he pretended to forgive and forget in an effort to disarm his mortal enemies—the rancor he felt had not diminished. Gloucester was as arrogant as ever, and just as antagonistic. Kicking his horse forward, Richard decided to wait; Arundel might still join them en route.
Londoners lined the roads as the somber cavalcade walked the fourteen miles to St. Paul’s. The king rode by himself, looking neither to the right nor the left. His priests, walking behind the funeral wagon, handed out alms, a customary safeguard to protect the dead against eternal unrest.
It was a tradition for medieval royalty to lay in state at St. Paul’s Cathedral before moving on to their funeral at Westminster. This cathedral was the pride of England—one of the longest in Europe, famous for its impressive spire. The soaring nave was so huge it was named Paul’s Walk and became a favorite meeting place to discuss business or catch up on the most recent news. Walking up and down, up and down, people strutted their latest fashions, gossiped, and even sought out prostitutes while pickpockets and petty thieves practiced their trade. Booksellers set up shop in the cathedral and outside in the churchyard, using St. Paul’s as their permanent address.
But all this came to a temporary stop while the king’s men cleared the space for Queen Anne’s vigil. Once the funeral party reached the cathedral, Richard watched as six of his knights carried the queen inside. Placing her casket into the center of the nave, they stood guard for five days while large crowds of grieving subjects paid their last respects.
On the last day, Thomas Arundel, the Archbishop of York waited for the king to finish his prayers before the altar. He was preparing to preach the funeral sermon and wanted to discuss his choice of biblical passages. Richard had been kneeling for more than an hour, and when he finally rose to his feet, the tears were still running down his face. The archbishop felt a rare pang of sympathy for the king, but it didn’t last. As soon as Richard saw him, he strode over in anger.
“Where is he? Where is your brother?”
Taken aback, Thomas almost put up his hands to ward off the king’s temper.
“Sire, I haven’t heard from him.”
“How can he be so disrespectful?” Frowning, Richard waited for an answer.
“I can only assume he was delayed by urgent matters.”
“This is unforgivable. He must be found.”
Thomas bowed his head, forgetting about his mission. It was more important to get away from the king until he recovered his composure. For now, Richard must be forgiven his immoderate grief. Hopefully, it wouldn’t last too long.
On Monday the third of August, the same cortège of important mourners made its way to Westminster. The monks and abbot met them halfway and led the procession to the abbey. Draped with the queen’s coat of arms, Anne’s coffin was brought through the great west door and placed before the altar. It seemed so tiny under the vaulted ceiling, flanked by huge pillars and gothic arches reaching to the heavens. The vast nave was soon crowded with standing attendees, and the roof echoed with De Profundis, chanted by a choir of young boys.
Halfway through the ceremony, Richard of Arundel entered with his immediate retinue, jostling their way through the congregation. At first, the king tried to ignore him, but couldn’t concentrate on the services. He kept looking at Arundel, who spent much of his time whispering into his wife’s ear.
After the sermon was over, there was a pause while the monks prepared the body for burial in Edward the Confessor’s chapel behind the high altar. Richard was watching their efforts, dabbing his eyes with his handkerchief, when the Earl of Arundel stepped up beside him. The king turned, annoyed. Arundel didn’t take notice. “Sire,” he said, “I have urgent private business to attend and request that you excuse me from the rest of the ceremony.”
For a moment the king stared at the earl in disbelief, his hand still. Even Arundel’s stance was disrespectful, his arms crossed while those bulging pale blue eyes looked around the crowd as if searching for someone. Richard’s handkerchief fell to the floor and he turned around, snatching a rod from one of the vergers who was trying to direct the participants. “How dare you!” Richard cried, and dealt the earl such a blow he fell to the floor, stunned. Blood flowed from his head spreading over the tiles like spilled red wine.
Gasps rent the air as people stepped back, startled by the king’s rage. Trembling, Richard pointed at the prone earl. “Take this man to the Tower,” he growled, and two of his knights stepped forward, dragging Arundel off the floor. Archbishop Thomas, drawn by the commotion, pursed his lips as he watched his brother get hauled away. He didn’t dare object. Turning to the king, he said, “We will have to purify and reconsecrate the Abbey before we can continue.”
Richard nodded. “Proceed at once.”
This was a terrible inconvenience. The cathedral was crammed with people, the religious ceremony was finished and they had nothing more to do but entomb the body. Everyone was going to have to wait; there was nothing else to be done.
Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Twitter Handles: @authorrochelle @maryanneyarde