Friday, 8 August 2008

The Beaufort Strategem

A filthy, bedraggled figure staggered into the court of King James III of Scotland.

It was Queen Margaret who recognised him first.

Margaret: Somerset. Is that you?

Somerset: It is I, your majesty.

Henry: Somerset, thank God you are here. We had almost begun to believe that none of our nobles had survived the battle of Towton. Is it true what is being said of the scale of our defeat?

Somerset: At least twenty thousand are dead, your majesty.

Henry: Twenty thousand! Slain in a single day!

Margaret: What of Wiltshire? Did he escape to Ireland?

Somerset: Alas your majesty, he was captured on the west coast of England. He has been taken to Newcastle for execution. I fear I am the only noble remaining of those who commenced the battle on our side.

Margaret: At least we shall be safe here in Scotland because of its strong alliance with France.

Somerset: Do not be so sure, your majesty. I have heard rumours that Warwick intends to go to France to seek a wife for Edward of York.

Henry: I thought Edward was betrothed to the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury?

Somerset: Maybe, but Warwick has other ideas and his power cannot be underestimated.

Margaret: Then we shall have to resort to the Beaufort strategem.

Somerset: I do not understand, your majesty.

Henry: Lady Margaret Beaufort, widow of my half brother Owen Tudor.

Margaret: I arranged for her to marry Henry Stafford in order to infiltrate the Yorkist nobility.

Henry: Lady Margaret practises the sacred path of celibacy.

Margaret: It has the advantage of bringing that line of Staffords to an end, I suppose.

Henry: A Stafford is one thing, but you will find it much harder to find someone acceptable to a man claiming the crown of England.

Margaret: I know just the person. One of my former Maids of Honour, of a most striking appearance, is now a widow. She has a vast number of siblings. If she became queen, her family would need to be given more honoured positions and Warwick's influence would be reduced correspondingly.

A plan was developed. Somerset would return to England, seek pardon and ingratiate himself with the new regime. He would attempt to marry Elizabeth Grey to Edward of York. Elizabeth would be given strict instructions to settle for nothing less than marriage.

Next Chapter

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