Friday, December 28, 2012


Sir Leopold had ridden over from his Estates in New Park to “Cuffnalls” the home of his brother Sir Edward Anders.
The two brothers now lived quite close, Sir Leopold had just brought what he considered a rather ground Estate which was called New Park, only some 5 miles of twisting lanes from the traditional Estates of the Anders family, more commonly known as Cuffnalls.

                                                         Cufnalls - the Anders Family Home

Sir Leopold had only the previous month moved into New Park, he came from Hesse in Germany bringing with him his Fiancée Sophia and her adopted son James. They had fled Hesse after living there for many years, the reason they came to England was that Sophia had promised James’s  birth mother Princess Wilhelmina that she would do all she could to keep his family lineage a secret as well as protect him. Sadly much of Germany was now a common battleground and a place far too dangerous to live, especially with a boy who was nephew to King Frederick II of Prussia.
They finally had arrived  in England and Sir Leopold could finally say with confidence that he felt James was safe, that was until he received the invitation to come to Cuffnals urgently, and to come alone.
As he rode up the long driveway that led to the grand Anders home, he saw his brother and his two sons standing on the steps. A servant came forward to take the horse as Sir Leopold dismounted; Sir Leopold looked up the steps at the rather grim faces of father and sons.
“Good God, you three look like you have just heard the plague is upon us, can things be that bad?”
Edward smiled and shook hands with his brother,
“Leopold, it is grand to see you old man, but yes sadly we have some disturbing news, best you come inside, we have some guests for you to meet”.
 The four men walked through the grand entrance down the corridor to what has become the audience room, Edward stood aside as the others walked in, he then nodded to a rather large burley manservant who was standing to attention on the other side of the hall.,
“Tom, make sure we aren’t disturb,” which to Tom the ex sergeant meant make sure no bugger goes listening at doors.

As Leopold made his way into the room he saw two other people, one  clearly a priest or friar, the other person he knew well; was it was Lady Margret Adair, the widow of Admiral Patrick  Adair.
Leopold then put two and two together, he remembered that the Adair’s had a son in the church; surely he must be the man in the robes.

Edward walked into the centre of the room,
“Now Leo I know you know Lady Margret, but I am not sure if you have met her son Paul, Paul is currently minister in the Church down in Beaulieu.”
Leopold walked over to Lady Margret; taking her by the hand he gently kissed it,
“A pleasure Lady Margret, it has been a long time, but I see time has had no effect on you my dear in fact if it were possible it seems to have added to your beauty.”

Lady Margret smiled at Leopold,
“Leopold Anders you are still the same silk tongued rogue you were when we were children.”

Leopold then turned to the young man in the robes, he said;
“I have not had the pleasure of meeting you father, but in my letters with your mother over the years I have read so much about you. Did Edward say your were minister in Beaulieu?”
“Indeed Sir Leopold, I have only recently been appointed to the chapel there”

Leopold looked at Lady Margret, smiling at her then back to her son Paul who he guessed must be in his 30’s. Paul was a fit looking minister; certainly not the stereotype religious Minister one would normally expect to see. Now that Paul had removed his hood Leo could see he also had a considerable scar on the side of his face, on a young gentlemen a dueling like scar is fashionable, on a priest it is quite bewildering.

“If I recall correctly I believe your mother mentioned in one of her many letters that you were with the Archbishop in Westminster, surely you have taken a considerable step down to being a minister in the Beaulieu”.

Paul smiled “Indeed some have seen my appointment to Beaulieu as some sort of demotion, but I assure you sir, I requested the appointment, and some of the reasons for me being here in Lyndhurst will soon become evident.”.

Leopold looked from Paul to Edward, with somewhat of a puzzled face.

Edward indicated a group of chairs all conveniently placed in a circle,
“Before we begin, may I suggest we all sit down and relax, we have much to discuss.”

They made their way to the chairs and once they were all seated Edward drew a long deep breath, looking directly at Leopold he began.
“Leopold, much of what we wish to talk to you about I am sure you will feel uncomfortable with, but I want to reassure you before we start; that you are amongst friends and family who love and support you.”

Leopold frowned, “Good Grief Edward that sounds rather foreboding,”

“Hmmm indeed it does Leo, I am sorry if I sound rather melodramatic, but it is dashed awkward you see. Well in for a penny in for a pound I suppose. Leo can you tell us what you know of your sons Johns natural parents, in particular the family lineage?”

Leopold thought to himself
“Damn they know about Wilhelmina, but what the hell has it to do with them”.

“With the utmost respect I am not sure what his parent’s lineage has to do with any of you Edward.”

“Indeed Leopold under normal circumstances you would be correct, it would have absolutely nothing to do with us, but umm sadly we have come into some information that makes your sons family lineage very important to all of us here, but more so to you I suspect; please tell us what you know and then we can go on from there.”

“Very well since I am amongst trusted friends I believe it can do no harm, indeed it may be beneficial if you all know.
James natural mother is Princess Wilhelmina, the sister to the Frederick II, King of Prussia. Princess Wilhelmina gave birth to James out of wedlock. You must understand that the shame of having a baby out of wedlock was too much for her, that and the fear that the boy could become a pawn in the game of Kings in Europe forced her to seek shelter for her son.
At the time my fiancée Sophia was married to a Hessian Captain Franz Schiller, he was killed in North America fighting for our colonies over there, at the same time Princess Wilhelmina was about to give birth Sophia was about to give birth to the Captains son. Sadly she miscarried and lost the baby, she always said it was the grief of hearing of the death of her husband that contributed to her losing her baby.
Anyway to make the story shorter, Princess Wilhelmina gave birth to a baby boy, she then asked Sophia to take the baby as her own, you see they were both in confinement in a monastery in Hesse, so the secret would be safe from the outside world. Princess Wilhelmina was reported as being ill, and she stayed over at the monastery to recover while her lady in waiting gave birth to a baby boy, the story was plausible and indeed no one questioned it.
Sophia stayed on in Hesse with a Pension from the princess; I met Sophia some 3 years later and have been with her since.
Two years ago, rumours started circulating that Princess Wilhelmina had a secret love affair, and from that love affair a baby boy was born. But when people started snooping around Hesse trying to find any substance to the rumours we became concerned. So I made plans to bring Sophia and James back here”

Edward was looking at Lady Margret, then to her son Paul,
It was Paul who spoke next,

“Sir Leopold what do you know of Princess Wilhelmina’s lover?”
“Well very little actually, I know he was Prince Ferdinand of Granschaft Gimborn and that he was killed some two months before James was born”
Paul continued, “So you will not know much of his past other than what you have heard via your fiancée?”

Leopold was now becoming both a little concerned and a little confused.
“Look, please tell me what this is all about, these questions regarding James and his parents are as far as I am aware, of no real value to any of you, and I am certainly not comfortable about being interrogated over private family details.”

Lady Margret interjected, looking around the group.
 “Look I think we owe it to Leopold to explain, and then he will understand why we are concerned.”
She looked at the others and they all nodded in agreement, then she said to Paul,
“Please show him the letter Paul.”

Paul delved into a pouch he was holding, drawing from it a letter, he handed to Sir Leopold.
“You will understand that this is a copy of the original, for obvious reasons I would not risk carrying original documents around.
You will note Sir Leopold that the letter is from Charles I, before he was King, in it he mentions the “delicate matter” of his mistress having just given birth to a son, a baby boy she called John. The letter is addressed to a certain Count Gauden who was living in the Palatinate. He asks that this Count Gauden arrange for the boy to be sent to an orphanage in Austria, what was to become of the mother is not mentioned.”

Leopold read the letter twice, then handed it back to Paul.
“I certainly would agree that this letter indicates some very interesting even dangerous details, but what has it to do with James”

Paul placed the letter back into the pouch,
“The baby boy called John never reached the orphanage in Austria, apparently this Count Gaudin who was extremely elderly died before he could arrange matters, John was sent to a church orphanage in the Palatinate. According to the Orphanage records they mention the date of the boy being admitted but they changed his name to Johannes”.
Again he delved into the pouch and after some shuffling of papers he handed Leopold another one.
“This is a copy of the orphanage entry, in which they record the admittance of a ward of the deceased Count Gaudin – a boy named Johannes.
Sir Leopold we know from other records that when he was seven years old Johannes ran away from the orphanage, but he was found near death frozen from the cold and near starvation by a elderly local couple. We have a copy of the letter from this couple to the orphanage requesting that Johannes be granted to them or be adopted by them. They must have had some influence because the adoption seems to have gone through extremely quickly.
They recorded the name of their adopted son as Johannes Holler, the only records we could find on the Hollers was a mention in one Church record where Count Erik Hollar was laid to rest beside his wife, the record noted he was survived by a son Johannes.
After a very exhaustive search, we finally found Johannes Hollar had joined the Austrian Army, his records there indicate he was from the Palatinate, he joined the army when he was 17 years old. It would  he was signed up as a Ensign, he rose through the ranks to become a Colonel.
He married and had two children Henry and Analiese, Henry was born in 1649, so John was around 34 years old when his first child was born, Analiese died young, we believe around 5 years old.
Now it seems Colonel Johannes Hollar died in 1676, but in 1670 Henry was engaged to a Princess Konstanze in a small German principality called Granschaft Gimborn, they were married in 1675 and Henry was by then a Colonel himself.
They had one child, a boy they called Ferdinand born in 1683, the same Prince Ferdinand who was James natural birth father.”

Leopold was left shaking his head, he looked to his brother,
“God God Edward are you telling me, my James is the sole remaining link to the throne of England.”
“Yes Leo, I am and now you can understand why we are so concerned”
Leopold rose up from his chair, he walked to the windows, stood looking out at the view but really was not looking at anything in particular.
He turned back, making his way to his chair, heavily slumping back down on his seat.
“The irony is Sophia and I left Hesse for the fear James may become a pawn in the wars between Prussia and her enemies, we were worried about his safety, now I am learning we have literally taken the boy out of the pot and thrown him into the bloody fire.”

Edward rose and walked over to his brother, placing his hand on Leopold’s shoulder.
“Leo we can help you, no matter what you decide to do from this moment, know one thing; the people in this room are devoted to looking after your family.”

Leo turned to his brother who was by now kneeling beside him, Edward could see the tears in his brothers eyes,
“How the hell am I going to tell Sophie, I promised her James would be safe here, but he is now in far greater danger than he would have ever been in Hesse, this will destroy her; it will destroy us.”

Leopold rose up once more; he looked around the group and then said
“Tell me one thing, how long have you known about James?”

Paul spoke,
“Sir Leopold I have known for a few months, I have been away in Hesse and much of Europe following  the research on this, when I felt I had sufficient evidence, I went to find you in Hesse and tell you about the discovery we had made. However you had moved on, I believe you went to Saxony, but I lost your trail there. I decided to return to England and make my findings known to the commission, I had already written with some of the details to the Archbishop.
Apparently the Archbishop or someone in the committee allowed some of the news to escape, there were no details given just the suggestion of a royal heir. By the time I arrived back here the Archbishop had been killed, I made my way to Lyndhurst because I knew if anyone knew the truth about what happened to the Archbishop it would be my mother.”
Paul smiled at his mother, “She has spies everywhere Sir Leopold, so if you want to know what is happening in the Ruling Council she not only knows the details, but who said what to whom.
Anyway when I arrived back here in Lyndhurst I discovered six of my brothers from the investigating committee were hiding here also, mother had taken them in and then hid them around the County.
I told mother what I had found out and she suggested I talk with Sir Edward, which was on day you arrived here.”

Edward rose up from his kneeling position, just as Leopold also stood up once again.

Edward said, “Leo, we just didn’t have time until yesterday to sit down together and discuss the details, we wanted to make sure that it was indeed James your son that was the same James who is the sole survivor of all the English royal lineages”.

Leopold then looked at Paul,
“So if you could trace James to Sophia and I and since there are now rumours of his arrival in England, no doubt others will be able to trace him here.”

Paul smiled, “Not exactly Sir Leopold, as I mentioned earlier, I have most of the original documents, and the ones I couldn’t errrrr take I made sure the details were changed so much so that anyone following the trail will come to a dead end somewhere in the Palatinate or even France”.

Leopold looked at Paul, realising there was more to this man than being a mere church minister.
“How on earth did you manage to take original documents from under the noses of the owners?”

Paul went red, with obvious embarrassment, his mother then spoke up.
“Sir Leopold, I am ashamed to say my son had shall we say a wild past, I can assure you it was not through the lack of guidance from myself or his father, personally I blame the louts he fell in with, you may know some of them Sir Giles sons and a few others who have all now managed to make notorious names for themselves.”

Paul interjected, “What my mother is trying to say Sir Leopold is that before the Archbishop took me in, I had a career as a very successful thief and if I may be so bold to boast an expert at forgery. It was through the Archbishop and my mother that I was given the chance to change my ways, oddly however my old ways ended up helping the Archbishop on many occasions. It is the same with the other six brothers, we all have particular talents, but we have all tried to put them behind us, but in working for the Archbishop we have sometimes been forced to use those talents. I guess the Archbishop would say the end justifies the means.”

Leopold looked around the group,
“Well what can I say, there is so much here for Sophia and I to consider, but whatever it is we decide it will be for James’s benefit, not for the throne of England, not for anyone in this room; our sole concern will be for James. If Sophia and I decide to stay, then obviously we will need to talk some more, but if we decide to move on, then that is the end of the matter.”

Edward nodded, “We all understand that Leopold and we would not have it any other way, if you decide to stay, believe me we will have all the resources we have in Lyndhurst to protect your family, if you decide to move on we will do all we can to cover your trail.”

Leopold suddenly felt very old, he had hoped he come to England for peace and security, but already he was beginning to understand that there could be none, all their lives had now been cast into a tumultuous whirl of an unknown future. Even if James was made King of England tomorrow, he would face years of attempted assassinations, wars and intrigues, if he was to run, despite what Edward promised he knew one day someone would come calling.”

Leopold made his way to the door, he paused and turned to face the group,
“I thank you for what you have done, especially you Paul, if I may ask; how long do you think it will be before the truth about James becomes known?”

Paul casually rose from his chair,
“Sir Leopold it could be years, but in truth I believe it will be nearer six months to a year. Despite my efforts to hide James’s trail I suspect someone on the Council of Nobles suspects some of the truth. Especially when you consider the Archbishops murder someone in England may already be looking for him.”

Leopold stood for a moment looking at the floor; he then turned to his brother,
“So if the least they know James was in Hesse or Germany and it is suspected he is now in England, how long do you think it would take them to connect the fact that Sophia and I have just come from Hesse with an 11 year old boy?”

Edward walked over to his brother,
“Leo as Paul said, it could be soon or a little while from now, but the truth or some of the truth will eventually become known, so we must prepare now. As I said if you stay and I pray you do, we will move heaven and earth to protect James; but sadly if you leave there will be little we can do to help.”

Leopold nodded his head,
“Thank you all, I best go and somehow break this to Sophia, I will let Edward know what we decide.”

Paul came over and shook Sir Leopold’s hand,
“May god go with you Sir Leopold, he has watched over James so far and I believe through his guidance he has lead you to us, so I beseech you Sir, to trust his ways just a little further as God clearly has a plan for your sons future, and the future of England with a King.”

Leopold looked at the young thief-priest, “Young man God may have a plan but I assure you he has not checked in with Sophia and she will decide James future.”
With that he left the room, Edward followed him out, at the top of the steps Leopold stopped, looked at Edward.
“This is a damnable business Eddie.”
“Yes Leo it is, it is not one any of us would have chosen, yet I believe that you and Sophia will eventually come to understand, that James’s past cannot be denied, nor can his future. Leopold his existence was chosen by God some time ago, his presence in England right at this time was ordained by him. Our country is weary of the wars, the deaths and the constant dangers, it needs stability and it needs leadership; it needs to believe it has a King once more.”

Leopold nodded and without a word he walked down the step, before he mounted his horse he turned to Edward,
“All you have said may be true Edward, but he is an 11 year old boy who has no understanding of who or what he is or may be.”
Edward had followed him down the steps,
“I know that Leo and that is why he will need your guidance and our support and protection, I would not attempt to beguile you with falsehoods brother, it will be a dangerous time for all of us, but it is a time we need to pass through.”

Leopold tipped his hat, and road out through the gates, his heart heavy with worry and fear for his family.


  1. Wow... From such beginnings, all sorts of plans and intrigues and plots and schemes suggest themselves... Fascinating possibilities for character development, too.

  2. 'Bang!' on the head -a nasty surprise (almost the kind one Joseph had some 2000 years ago, if I may mention this season reference).
    The kind of genealogy so adequate for a swashbuckling novel à la 3 Mousquetaires / Le Capitaine Fracasse, and a fine array of characters, the priest-thief is specially intriguing.

  3. I have indeed ideas for many plots and side actions apart from the main story. My thoughts on the Archbishop using a group of "brothers" who have shady pasts was based on the belief that he lived in a time where everyone did what they had to do to retain their share of power. The Archbishop as the man responsible for investigating every applicants lineage to nobility would be a man that was under great pressure from certain quarters (ie The already established Ruling Council who do not want any more nobles), he was also in a position of great power as through his investigations he would learn much about family skeletons, therefore he would have many enemies.
    The archbishop in my mind was not a bad man, but he knew the ruling council was dysfunctional so he was secretly using his offices (hence the shady men) to find a link to a royal house, in the hope that he could help establish the Monarchy back in England.

    Whether he was murdered because of the discovery of James or because he had discovered something someone did not want revealed will be seen later.
    Paul, the brother who now leads the "insiders" will be the man to watch, he realises that if he can help James to the throne, eventually he would be in a position to gain great favours and high offices, perhaps even Archbishop.

    1. If you've never read 'Hornblower and the Crisis', I should mention in there a preacher turned forger. It seemed that his talent for the latter far exceeded his success as a holy man. Of course it was that very talent that led him to the hangman's noose .... and saved him from it.