Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Elizabeth decides

Elizabeth thought about the offer made through Doctor Lewis. As part of her plan to make her son Henry Tudor King of England, Lady Margaret Beaufort wanted Elizabeth's daughter Princess Elizabeth of York to marry Henry. This would finally reconcile the competing lines of Lancaster and York. It was time for Elizabeth to return to her Lancastrian roots. The Yorks had never accepted her Woodville family, and Gloucester was a psychopath who had already murdered her brother and son. Put like that, it seemed as if once again Elizabeth had no choice, so she had consented.

All the same, she was uneasy. She had been as shocked and horrified by the deaths of Hastings and in Pontefract as anyone. Yet they were not the actions of the Gloucester she knew. He and his brothers had inherited the military skills of their father. Edward and Clarence had also inherited their father's poisonous, addictive lust, though expressed in different ways. In the father, it was for power, in Edward for women and in Clarence for wine. Gloucester was different. He loved Anne. He had cared for her when she was unwell. If he had taken mistresses, he had been so discreet about it that their identity was not public knowledge, unlike Edward's. She had seen his loyalty to Edward and his genuine affection for his nephews and nieces. He had earned a good reputation as a governor in the north, consolidating support by accommodating rivals rather than eliminating them.

On the other hand, there were rumours that Gloucester had killed Henry VI in the Tower. She didn't know whether this was true, but she did know that it was Edward who had given the order to kill Henry. Gloucester had a quick temper too. Most of us lose our temper, but few of us do so when we have the power to severely punish those who annoy us. Would we behave any better in those circumstances?

These thoughts went round and round in her mind. Then it came to her. If Lady Margaret Beaufort was intriguing with her, who else might she be plotting with? Her husband Lord Stanley was an obvious candidate, and he had been involved in the Hastings conspiracy. Buckingham was her nephew, and come to think of it Elizabeth's brother-in-law had never before shown any interest in national politics but had somehow become Gloucester's right hand man.

She was faced with two implausible possibilities. Either Gloucester was a murderous psychopath, or he was the victim of an extraordinary conspiracy. That was as far as her mind could take her. To decide between them she would have to follow her heart. Once she realised that, the next step was obvious.

To take it, she needed the one man whose transparent integrity had ensured that his services had been retained whoever was in power. Elizabeth enquired whether the Bishop of Winchester was in town.

Next Chapter

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