Book Title: The Usurper King
Series: The Plantagenet Legacy Book 3
Author: Mercedes Rochelle
Publication Date: TBC
Publisher: Sergeant Press
Page Length: 308 Pages
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From Outlaw to Usurper, Henry Bolingbroke fought one rebellion after another.
First, he led his own uprising. Gathering support the day he returned from exile, Henry marched across the country and vanquished the forsaken Richard II. Little did he realize that his problems were only just beginning. How does a usurper prove his legitimacy? What to do with the deposed king? Only three months after he took the crown, Henry IV had to face a rebellion led by Richard's disgruntled favorites. Worse yet, he was harassed by rumors of Richard's return to claim the throne. His own supporters were turning against him. How to control the overweening Percies, who were already demanding more than he could give? What to do with the rebellious Welsh? After only three years, the horrific Battle of Shrewsbury nearly cost him the throne—and his life. It didn't take long for Henry to discover that that having the kingship was much less rewarding than striving for it.
The Duke of York confronts Henry Bolingbroke:
York was waiting for them at the Church of St. Mary's. It was an old edifice hosting many generations of the Berkeley family within its humble vaulted nave. Accompanied by his nobles, Henry pushed open the door and slowly entered, looking over the silent effigies lining both sides of the church. The Duke of York stood before the altar, waiting in the gloom. At his side hovered John Beaufort and a handful of knights like so many ghosts.
Henry could just imagine that the king's regent wanted nothing more than to sit down; he knew his uncle suffered from severe arthritis, and this audience was undoubtedly a strain for him. The newcomers moved closer. York's face, usually so affable, was drawn and frowning. Despite himself, Henry felt a pang of guilt.
Putting his hands on his hips, the duke stuck out his chin. "You have much to answer for, Henry Bolingbroke. How dare you drag your horde of bandits across England, pillaging the good people who have done nothing to deserve this outrage?"
Henry extended his hands. "Uncle, uncle. Give me a chance to explain."
"Don't uncle me! You have been forbidden to return these six years, and here you are, just as soon as the king conveniently leaves the country. Surely you must know I speak for him."
"I do, your grace. And I trust your good judgment."
"My good judgment!" York sputtered. "My good judgment! I judge that you are outlawed."
Despite York's words, Henry felt his uncle spoke out of obligation rather than conviction. He took a step forward. "It was Bolingbroke who was outlawed. I speak for Lancaster."
Temporarily at a loss, Edmund opened and closed his mouth. The trembling of his thin white beard betrayed his inner conflict. Henry took advantage of his discomfiture.
"Uncle, listen to me. My poor father, whom I was not allowed to see even at the last, would have trusted you to look after my entitlements—just as he would have looked after your son's claims had they been challenged. I ask no less of you. You know I have been wronged..." He paused, waiting for an answer. None was forthcoming.
Percy stepped up next to Henry."This issue touches all of us," he said in his gruff voice. "We stand united behind Lancaster. If such a great inheritance can be thus taken away, then none of us are safe."
Unresolved, York lowered his head.
"And what have I done to deserve this treatment?" Henry pleaded."What treason have I committed? I only ask to be given what I was promised: the ability to sue for my inheritance. I have come to claim my own." He dropped to one knee. "I am prepared to swear to this, before the altar."
Throwing up his hands, Edmund turned toward the sepulcher. "Then do so, nephew." He crossed his arms, waiting.
Exchanging glances with Percy, Henry moved forward, kneeling under the great crucifix. "I swear, as God is my witness, I have come to claim my inheritance. That is all." He crossed himself.
"Hmm." York was unconvinced. "Why do you need such a large army to merely claim your inheritance?"
Considering his oath discharged, Henry stood. "I am well aware that if I fell into the king's hands, my life would be forfeit."
"So you will confront the king as well?"
"If I must, uncle. I believe he seeks to enrich himself with Lancaster's patrimony. Many would call King Richard a tyrant. Many feel he needs the guidance of wiser heads."
"Like yours, I suppose?" York's voice sounded shrill.
"And yours, uncle. We have had ruling councils before."
Snorting in disgust, Edmund turned his back on Henry.
"Surely you have heard the cries of the people," Bolingbroke pleaded. "The king is not satisfied with one pardon. He requires many. He demands surety from every side. No one knows whether he is safe from arrest. No one knows whether their possessions will fall prey to the king's cupidity. As Lord High Steward of England, I have sworn to right these wrongs." He paused; whether he should be acting High Steward was anyone's guess. So far, no one debated his right to it—even York, it seemed.
Turning again, Edmund balanced on legs spread wide. "You have sworn to right these wrongs? By deposing the king?"
"That is not my intent." Henry gestured to the others. "Ask them. They would not follow a usurper."
Setting his mouth, York glared at Henry's companions. They stared back at him, not giving an inch. The silence stretched uncomfortably.
Finally, Edmund gave in, shaking his head. "All right. So be it. I no longer have the means to oppose you." Pausing, he raised a finger threateningly. "But do not assume I give you a free hand in this. You are bound by your word."
Allowing himself a smile, Henry put on his gloves. "I hope to convince you we mean to do the best for England's sake."
Grunting again, Edmund sat heavily on the nearest pew. It was the dismissal Henry was waiting for. He knew that in time, he would be able to cozen his uncle. For the moment, however, it would probably be better to let him get used to his failure as regent. It wasn't York's fault. He had done the best he could, considering that the king had left him with very few resources. Luckily for Henry. Luckily for Lancaster. So far, things had gone amazingly well. Henry almost couldn't believe it.
Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog:
HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-Rochelle/e/B001KMG5P6?