— 4.1 —
In a room of the palace in London were Duke Richard of Gloucester, Duke George of Clarence, the new Duke of Somerset (son of the Duke of Somerset whom Richard had killed in battle), and the Marquess of Montague.
Duke Richard of Gloucester said sarcastically, “Now tell me, brother Clarence, what do you thinkof this new marriage of Edward IV with the Lady Elizabeth Grey?Hasn’t our brother made a worthy choice?”
“Alas, as you know, it is far from here to France,” Duke George of Clarence said sarcastically.“How could he wait until Warwick made his return?”
The Duke of Somerset said, “My lords, don’t talk like that; here comes the King.”
“And his well-chosen bride,” Duke Richard of Gloucester said.
Duke George of Clarencesaid, “I intend to tell him plainly what I think.”
King Edward IV and Lady Elizabeth Grey — who was now Queen Elizabeth, the Queen consort of the King of England — entered the room, along with the Earl of Pembroke, Lord Stafford, Lord Hastings, and others.
A Queen consort is the wife of a King and does not rule. A Queen regnant, such as Queen Elizabeth I of Shakespeare’s time, does rule.
King Edward IV said, “Now, brother Clarence, how do you like our choice of a wife? I can see that you stand pensively, thinking deep thoughts, as if you were half malcontent.”
Duke George of Clarence replied sarcastically, “I like it as well as do the French King Louis XI and the English Earl of Warwick, who are so weak of courage and so weak in judgment that they’ll take no offence at our insult to Lady Bona and to them.”
“Suppose they take offence without a cause,” King Edward IV said. “They are only Louis XI and Warwick. I am Edward, your King and Warwick’s, and I must have my will.”
The word “will” meant desire, including sexual desire.
Duke Richard of Gloucester said, “And you shall have your will because you are our King. Yet hasty, impulsive marriages seldom turn out well.”
“Brother Richard, are you offended, too?” King Edward IV asked.
“Not I,” Duke Richard of Gloucester replied. “No, God forbid that I should wish them severed whom God has joined together. Yes, and it would be a pity to sunder them who yoke so well together.”
The word “yoke” meant both joined in marriage and joined in sex.
King Edward IV said, “Setting your scorns and your dislike aside, tell me some reason why Lady Elizabeth Grey should not be my wife and England’s Queen. And you, too, Somerset and Montague, speak freely what you think.”
Duke George of Clarence said, “Then this is my opinion: King Louis XI of France will become your enemy because you have mocked him by asking for marriage with the Lady Bona but marrying someone else.”
Duke Richard of Gloucester said, “And Warwick, by doing what you ordered him to do, is now dishonored by this new marriage of yours.”
King Edward IV replied, “What if both Louis XI and Warwick should be appeased by some scheme that I devise?”
The Marquess of Montague said, “Still, to have joined with France in an alliance would have strengthened this our commonwealth more against foreign storms than any home-bred marriage. By marrying Lady Elizabeth Grey, you have dashed the hope of an alliance by marriage with the King of France.”
Lord Hastings said, “Why, doesn’t Montague know that of itself England is safe, if true within itself?”
The Marquess of Montague said, “But England is safer when it is allied with France.”
Lord Hastings said, “It is better to use France than to trust France. Let us be allied with God and with the seas that He has given us to serve as an impregnable fence. Using only God’s and the seas’ help, we can defend ourselves: In God and the seas and in ourselves our safety lies.”
Duke George of Clarence said, “For this one speech Lord Hastings well deserves to have the heir of the Lord Hungerford as a wife.”
King Edward IV said, “Yes, and what of that? It was my will and grant, and for this once my will shall stand for law.”
Duke Richard of Gloucester said, “And yet I think your grace has not done well to give the heir and daughter of Lord Scales to the brother of your loving bride. She would have better fitted Clarence or me. But in your bride you bury brotherhood.”
Duke George of Clarence said, “Or else you would not have bestowed the heir of the Lord Bonville on your new wife’s son, and left your brothers to go and find prosperity elsewhere.”
King Edward IV had been raising the status and wealth of Queen Elizabeth’s relatives by arranging good marriages for them.
“Alas, poor Clarence!” King Edward IV said sarcastically. “Is it for a wife that you are malcontent? I will provide a wife for you.”
Duke George of Clarence replied, “In choosing for yourself, you showed your judgment, which was shallow; therefore, give me permission to play the marriage broker in my own behalf, and to that end — the end of getting a wife — I intend to leave you shortly.”
King Edward IV said, “Whether you leave or stay, I, Edward, will be King, and not be bound by his brother’s will.”
Queen Elizabeth now spoke up: “My lords, before it pleased his majesty to raise my state to the title of a Queen, you must all confess — if you do me right — that I was not ignoble of descent and that women of lower rank than I have had like fortune.
“But as this title honors me and mine, so your dislike of my marriage, dislike by those whom I would like to please, clouds my joys with danger and with sorrow.”
King Edward IV said to her, “My love, don’t fawn upon their frowns. What danger or what sorrow can befall you as long as Edward is your constant friend and their true sovereign, whom they must obey?
“They shall obey, and they shall love you, too, unless they seek for hatred at my hands, which if they do, I will still keep you safe, and they shall feel the vengeance of my wrath.”
Duke Richard of Gloucester thought, I hear, yet I don’t say much, but I think much more.
The messenger who had gone to France with letters for the King of France, the Earl of Warwick, and Queen Margaret entered the room.
King Edward IV recognized him and asked, “Now, messenger, what letters or what news do you have from France?”
The messenger replied, “My sovereign liege, no letters, and few words, but such words as I, without your special pardon, dare not tell you.”
King Edward IV said, “Go on, for we pardon you; therefore, briefly tell me their words as accurately as you can remember them. What answer does King Louis XI make to our letter?”
“At my departure, he said these very words, ‘Tell false Edward IV, your supposed King, that Louis XI of France is sending over ‘entertainers’ — troops of soldiers — to revel with him and his new bride.’”
“Is Louis XI so daring?” King Edward IV said. “Perhaps he thinks that I am Henry VI.
“But what did Lady Bona say about my marriage to Lady Elizabeth Grey?”
The messenger replied, “These were her words, uttered with mad disdain: ‘Tell him, in hope he’ll prove a widower shortly, I’ll wear the willow garland for his sake.’”
“I don’t blame her,” King Edward IV said. “She could say little less; she had wrong done to her.
“But what did Henry VI’s Queen Margaret say? For I have heard that she was there in person.”
The messenger replied, “She said, ‘Tell him that I have laid aside my mourning clothing, and I am ready to put on armor.’”
“Perhaps she intends to play the role of an Amazonian woman-warrior,” King Edward IV said. “But what did the Earl of Warwick say concerning these insults?”
The messenger replied, “He, more incensed against your majesty than all the rest, discharged me with these words: ‘Tell him from me that he has done me wrong, and therefore I’ll uncrown him before long.’”
“Ha!” King Edward IV said. “Does the traitor dare breathe out such proud words?
“Well, I will arm myself, being thus forewarned. They shall have wars and pay for their presumption.
“But tell me, is Warwick friends with Queen Margaret?”
“Yes, gracious sovereign,” the messenger replied. “They are so linked in friendship that young Prince Edward will marry Warwick’s daughter.”
Duke George of Clarence said, “He will probably marry Warwick’s elder daughter. I, Clarence, will have and marry Warwick’s younger daughter.
“Now, brother King, farewell, and sit yourself firmly on the throne, for I will go from here to Warwick’s other daughter, so that, although I lack a Kingdom, yet in marriage I may not prove to be inferior to yourself.
“Anyone who loves and respects me and Warwick, follow me.”
Duke George of Clarence and the Duke of Somerset exited.
Duke Richard of Gloucester thought, Not I; I won’t exit. My thoughts aim at a further matter; I stay not because of love for Edward, but because of love for the crown.
King Edward IV said, “Both the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Somerset have gone to join Warwick! Yet I am armed against the worst that can happen, and haste is necessary in this desperate case.
“Lord Pembroke and Lord Stafford, you two go and levy men in our behalf, and make preparations for war. The enemy soldiers are already or quickly will be landed. I myself in person will immediately follow you.”
The Earl of Pembroke and Lord Stafford exited.
King Edward IV continued, “But, before I go, Lord Hastings and the Marquess of Montague, resolve and remove my doubt. You two, of all the rest, are close to Warwick by blood and by alliance. Tell me whether you love and respect Warwick more than me. If you do, then both of you depart and go to him. I would rather wish you to be my foes than to be my hollow, insincere friends. But if you intend to hold and maintain your true obedience to me, your lawful King, give me assurance with some friendly vow, so that I may never be suspicious of you.”
“May God help Montague only to the extent that he proves true and loyal to you!” the Marquess of Montague said.
“And may God help Hastings only to the extent that he favors Edward’s cause!” Lord Hastings said.
King Edward IV then said, “Now, brother Richard, will you stand by us?”
Duke Richard of Gloucester said, “Yes, in defiance of all who shall stand against you.”
“Why, good!” King Edward IV said. “Then I am sure of victory. Now therefore let us go from here, and waste no hour, until we meet Warwick with his foreign power.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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