Monday, 11 August 2008

The strategem succeeds

The royal marriage settled into a regular cycle. Elizabeth would announce that she was with child, Edward would remove her from the royal bedchamber and summon "Jane Shore" to take her place and Elizabeth would obtain preferment for members of her family as the price of this humiliation. By this means Woodvilles married into many families of the nobility and attained positions of prominence in the royal council.

Elizabeth was happy enough with this existence. She thought that no man could ever take the place of John Grey in her heart, so her expectations of Edward were not high. She found fulfilment in caring for her children, and satisfaction in helping others in her family.

One day, though, she found the king's younger brother Richard Duke of Gloucester looking uncharacteristically despondent. Elizabeth was fond of the young man, and asked the reason for his unhappiness. Immediately his mood changed to one of anger.

"I hate you Woodvilles. Warwick has turned against us because of you, he has turned our brother George Duke of Clarence against us and now he is giving his daughter Anne in marriage to Edward, son of Margaret of Anjou."

Even in his rage, he could not speak Anne's name without tenderness. After the death of his father, Gloucester had been brought up in Warwick's home. His childhood friendship with Anne had obviously become something more.

In his anguish, Gloucester had forgotten that Warwick had executed Elizabeth's father and brother not so long before, and that she would therefore be a sympathetic hearer. Elizabeth, thinking more clearly than Gloucester, saw an implication that offered hope. If Anne married Edward, they would almost certainly have children, making the likelihood of Clarence becoming king much more remote. If this was pointed out to Clarence, perhaps he could be persuaded to rejoin Edward against Warwick.

Next Chapter

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