Sunday, January 6, 2013

The council Meeting.

Sir Edward had arranged interviews with Lord Castlemaine before the Council of Noble meetings, he had hoped to catch up with the Dukes of Cumberland and Cornwall sometime after the meeting.
The interview with Sir Robert Castlemaine, Duke of Berkshire was promising, but like all the Lords he was non-committal until he saw more positive action. He pointed out to Sir Edward that he had enough enemies on the council now without inviting the rest to climb in on the struggle for London.
Lord Castlemaine was mostly concerned about the number of attacks on Catholic churches in and around London, his policy on religious practices in the areas of his control was one of free religious choice, but in the last few months there was a developing trend of attacks first on Presbyterian chapels and more recently Catholic churches and cathedrals.
These attacks were beginning to cause considerable unrest and on more than one occasion he had to call out the guard to restore order.

Sir Edward remembered the conversation with the Duke of Essex and his comments that the Lord Hackett had made just a few days ago. He pointed out that in his conversations with individuals on the council that the Duke of Kent was intent on causing trouble for Lord Castlemaine.
Lord Castlemaine indicated he knew very well of the origins of the troubles his provinces were experiencing but there was very little he could do to stop it, apart from curfews and troops in the city, which would have been unacceptable to the citizenry of London and its environs.

Sir Edward finished the interview remarking to Lord Castlemaine that he might consider that he needed allies quite urgently than he expected, both on the council and militarily because if the attacks continued it would only be a matter of time before a neighbouring Lord claimed he was forced to move into Berkshire to restore order in the nation’s capital city.

The evening before the Council of Nobles meet, Sir Edward took himself off for a walk through some of the streets of London, it was a rare chance to see people and how they lived; it was an experience that
Reminded him just how far removed from the people of England the council of Nobles really was.
The one thing that was becoming clear, if young James was to have a chance to become King he could not rely on the support from the Nobles. Some may go through the motions of supporting him, but they would all want to control him, or worse turn him into a sop to the people; a figurehead King.
Edward walked amongst and met many people that evening, some were merchants closing their markets, traders and a few poor people.
He spent time in a tavern talking with some of the inhabitants, none of them aware that they had a noble in their presence.
When he returned to his town house later that night, Edward knew things had to change, but it had to be a complete change, and it would start tomorrow.
He summoned one of his best men a young officer he knew he could trust totally  and quickly wrote a note to his brother Leopold.

Raise the Militia and close the borders prepare for trouble, tell Paul we need the proof to be ready, under all circumstances keep James close.
Tomorrow may be the first day of our long struggle, it is sooner than I expected but events are such that we may need to move quickly.
May God keep us safe and give us strength.
God save the King.

He instructed the officer to take 20 men and ride urgently for Lyndhurst and deliver the message to Sir Leopold.

Meeting of the Council of Nobles

Sir Richard Hackett, Duke of Essex had the chair for this meeting of the council of Nobles. Generally the first meeting in spring was one of administration rather than any really progressive suggestions not that any meeting had many of progressive suggestions anyway.
There were the reports from the ministers to consider, and generally it was as it always had been for several years. The ministers read out the reports, the nobles voted automatically to accept them and business continued as usual.
The wars in Europe continued with fortunes fluctuating, while at the moment England had a defensive treaty with Prussia over Hanover it was neutral in the greater expanse of the European wars. Two years ago the England had been in an alliance with Austria against France and Prussia, but the drain on English resources had been so great the alliance had to be broken.

In regard to the nation’s finances England was barely breaking even, what the minister for treasury was pointing out in his report to the council in a very vague manner was that some taxes within the provinces was being “redirected”, which meant the Governments income was severely jeopardised because of the shortfall.

Sir Edward asked the Minister why the difference between the nation’s incomes from taxes and its ability to pay its debts was so far out of balance and what he meant by redirected.

This was a subject that no one on the council openly discussed, the reasons were well known in that the taxes were simply taken by several Lords, but those Lords were powerful men no one wanted to buy in a fight with them. It was therefore quite a surprise to most as to why a minor Knight such as Sir Anton would question why the accounts did not balance.

The Minister for the treasury Sir George Ramsey was being placed in a difficult position; if he lied to a member of the council he was at the least committing perjury, at worst treason; yet if he told the truth his life was measured in hours, or at least his future as Minister would be measured in the time it took to leave the building.
Sir George fumbled with vague answers, using the usual lines of reason that there were unusual complicating factors, the feeble excuse continued and became obvious.
Finally the Duke of Kent had enough; he stopped Sir George mid sentence in one of his rambling answers to Sir Edwards questions, he asked Sir Edward whether was he accusing Sir George of misappropriating funds or was he accusing members of the council of misappropriating funds.
Sir Edward realised that this was the moment that his future and that of his county balanced on.

He replied
“My Lord I am making the suggestion that we know what should be coming into the treasury by way of taxes and other charges and we know the figure that is actually coming in is seriously a lot less than it is supposed to be. I am simply trying to find out why.”

That suggestion opened the doors to chaos in the meeting; everyone almost at once was clamouring for a point of view; finally a very annoyed Lord Hackett restored order literally by standing and thumping the table with his usually ornamental hammer, he struck the table so hard he broke the handle sending the ornamental head flying into the crowd of Nobles.  He was puzzled and damned annoyed at Sir Edwards’s line of questioning because it threatened the status quo of the council. The old rule of what happened in council stayed in the council was now being seriously jeorpardised.

“Sir Edward this line of question is out of order, if you have charges to make you should bring them to the council in the appropriate manner; that sir is by the judicial committee, but simply slandering people with vague accusations is not an appropriate use of this council”.

Sir Edward replied.
“My Lord I am not slandering anyone, nor making accusations, I am merely asking the minister for the treasury to account for the difference in expected income and what he has on hand to spend, it is a simple matter of housekeeping my lord.”

Everyone knew this was not a question of simple housekeeping, this line of questioning went to the heart of the matter, the integrity of the council, it was perhaps about then that several members of the council realised what Sir Edward was doing, one of them was the Lord Hackett and he was not pleased, the other was Lord Hugh Castlemaine and he was ecstatic. Others were literally furious, mainly because indirectly or otherwise the suggestion of misappropriation of taxes would affect them.

The Duke of Kent rose to speak, he deep voice overawing all others.
“My Lords. Sir Knights, this matter raised by Sir Edward is a matter of serious breach of protocol, as the Chairman my Lord Hackett has pointed out these matters should not be discussed in open forum, therefore I suggest Sir Edward return to his seat and deal with these matters in the appropriate manner or the council eject him from the building for bringing actions that would undoubtedly bring disrepute to council.”

Everyone stopped, first to listen to Lord Bedford Duke of Kent, and then all eyes turned to Sir Edward.

Sir Edward rose from his chair to speak,
“My Lords, Sir Knights everyone in this room has known that the finances of our country have been in chaos for decades. In the past there have been suggestions and proposals to make changes and each time they go to committee’s and there they are buried; never to resurface and so nothing changes. Over the years it has meant many millions of pounds have literally disappeared to be unaccounted for and yet we as a council supposedly responsible to the people of England do nothing to correct this inequity.
I have not made any accusations so therefore there is no need for this to go to a committee, I have a right as a member of this council to question any minister of the nation and today I am asking him to explain why there is a marked difference between what should be going into the treasury and what actually is going in.
Is that really an inappropriate question, in fact I am surprised none of you have thought to ask this very question. We as members of the council are or should be responsible to the people of England, we have a duty to be open and honest in our dealings, our ministers therefore have the same obligation to us to administer their public affairs in the same manner.”

The room went quiet for just a moment, it was then that Sir Steven Ferguson rose to speak
“My lords, sir Knights I am left wondering why Sir Edward who has been a member of this council for many years would question right now the administration of this council. If we are as inept as he would accuse us, then is he not too equally guilty of the same.”

Sir Edward responded,
“Sir Steven is quite correct, I am as equally guilty of allowing this inefficiency to continue for years as any of you, but it has reached such proportions that I cannot in all clear conscience let it continue unchallenged.”

“Is it your conscience, that has caused your unjust accusations or could there be an ulterior motive?” Sir Steven asked.

“I have no ulterior motive other than what is just and proper for this council as well as England.”

“Could it be Sir Edward that you are attempting to bring disrepute to this council just at the same time it is rumoured you have a royal hiding somewhere in Lyndhurst”.

The room fell into a deathly silence, everyone realised that the meeting had just gone from a normal business as usual into something far more serious.
Sir Edward calmly rose from his seat,
“Sir Steven I am questioning the council on a fact, a fact sir; do you know the difference between fact and rumour. I am asking the council to investigate the fact that a sum of money seems to be disappearing every year, you on the other hand are dealing in rumours which I can only assume are of your making.”

Sir Steven thumped the table,
“Do you deny you have a royal of the English line in Lyndhurst?”

“Sir Steven, you are asking me to answer a rumour and as such can quite categorically answer yes I do deny the rumour. Furthermore I can say no one in Lyndhurst claims to be a Royal and no one claims to know a royal, but sir I suggest you consider your motives and line of questioning very carefully for you are close to accusing me of treason.  I assure you if you go down that road we will deal with that matter outside of this house. Now I suggest you apologise for initiating a rumour that borders on treason or you back up your baseless accusations with facts.”

Sir Steven was now unsure how to progress, he looked to the Duke of Bedford who conveniently looked away in absolute horror that Sir Steven could have been so stupid to have opened a can of worms that he could not possibly substantiate, other members had noticed the glance and a few remembered the night of the betrothal when they had seen Sir Steven and the Duke talking quietly out on the balcony.

Sir Steven all of a sudden realised he was on his own, Sir Edward looked at him,
“Well Sir Steven apologise or back up your accusations.”
Sir Stevens pride would not allow him to back down, even though he knew he was in an untenable position, so he did all he knew - he attacked, and the Duke of Bedford sunk even lower in his chair.

“We all are aware that the late Archbishop of Westminster just before he died had news of the existence of a English royal in Europe, he didn’t have any evidence on hand but he was waiting for that evidence to be returned to England by one of his acolytes who I believe was a brother Paul,
Now we know the poor archbishop died either in the fire in his house, or as it has been suggested he was murdered, so the evidence he was waiting never arrived in his hands.
However my Lords, Sir Knights, I do know father Paul has arrived from Europe, he is currently a minister in a chapel in Beaulieu in Lyndhurst, furthermore he arrived with a young boy and his mother.
I believe that this young boy is the one and same boy that the archbishop so confidently announced to be the supposedly missing English royal.
Further to that, the boy and his mother have been living with Sir Edwards brother General Sir Leopold in the General’s Estate in New Park, it just so happens that in the last week or so Sir Leopold’s estate is now protected by a ring of troops and a garrison is situated next door. It is clear that this boy, whoever he is being protected or at least hidden away”.

Everyone in the room waited, Edward waited for a few moments and when he realised Sir Steven had finished he rose to speak.
“You mean that was it, that is what you are basing your accusations of treason, Sir Steven you had better have more evidence than that or I am demanding satisfaction”
Sir David Crawford (Knight of Worcester) asked,
“Well Sir Edward do you deny that there is a royal in New Park, and if you do why the precautions.”

Sir Edward replied
“I do have a confession to make, it is not one that concerns this council but it does concern my own county, but in response to the baseless accusations made so far I will clarify.”

Edward went on to explain James connection to Frederick the Great and these precautions were made to protect the boy from foreign agent’s not English ones.
The whole council just sat there looking at Sir Steven who simply replied
“Well Sir Edwardd if you had simply been more forthright with us these rumours could have been discounted very quickly.”

Edward replied seemingly rather peeved.
“How could I be more forthright when I didn’t realise you spent so much time spying on me and my family sir, if you had concerns it could have saved you from considerable angst if you had simply ridden over the border and asked. Sir Steven the only rumour I have heard about a royal in Lyndhurst has been from your mouth, so I again ask you to apologise or I demand that you be removed from the council for making false accusations of treason”

Sir Steven knew he was beaten, he simply had no proof and he had let his temper get the better of himself.
“Sir Edward I do most sincerely apologise for any suggestion of treason.”

“I accept your apology Sir Steven but the fact remains you knowingly falsely accused me of treason, I move that this council at least censure Sir Steven for that, or more appropriately he be dismissed from the council.”

The council went into an uproar, Sir Edward sat very straight faced looking directly at Sir Steven the whole while the council argued back and forth, in the end it was decided that indeed Sir Steven did make unproven accusations and that he was noted as being censured by the council.
Sir Edward then rose again,
“My Lord and Sir Knights we still have the matter of the nation’s finances to discuss?”

There was a resounding sigh of disbelief from the council, Lord Hackett spoke
“My Lord and Sir Knights’ I am calling the meeting a close for today, we will continue tomorrow when passions have had a chance to cool off.”

As the council members broke up into their various cliques and left the chambers Lord Hackett made his way to Sir Edward,
“What the hell are you up to Sir Edward, this situation with Sir Steven was nicely done and I doubt we will hear much from him, but this matter of finances can only harm the council. You must back away from it if you wish to gain any support from me or other Lords.”

“My Lord with the greatest respect to you sir, I am sick of the double dealing double standards that we as have nobles become accustomed too as being normal. Is our depravity so craven, our corruption so bad that we cannot see what we have become?
Did we not cut the heads of Kings, kill dictators because they assumed so much power or had themselves become so corrupt yet here and now while we stand so deep in our own filth, we still claim the innocence of the lamb.
No my Lord, I will not sit quiet any more, and in regard to your support I most earnestly hope and pray you will see wisdom in whichever path you choose.”

“What has caused this sudden burst of innocent enlightment Sir Edward, is it because you have James on hand and you see a place for yourself in a higher role than you can achieve with the counsel, surely it’s just not a simple case of envy.”

“Nay my lord, you would do me an injustice to accuse me of wanting a higher place than where I am at present. This sudden burst of awareness or enlightenment as you call it has been sitting heavily on my soul for a long time, but I saw no way to change things; at least with James we have a chance, a small chance albeit; but it must be taken. We must purge ourselves of the past and start new.”

“I thought I understood you Sir Edward it seems I am wrong, you are a mad man if you think things will change, who and what will stand up to the council; certainly not you and Lyndhurst; it saddens me to say you can no longer count on my support.”

“My lord that grieves me more than you think, I ask you to reflect on your decision. You asked me not so long ago to guarantee that your lands will remain in your daughters hands, that she would be raised up to a Princess and these things in the name of James I have guaranteed you. If you choose to stay with the council my Lord, what future will you leave your daughter?
She will be married to a man who fornicates with every loose woman in the city, she will be ignored or at worse abused and her lands and those of your clients will go into the hands of your enemy the Duke of Kent. Is that truly the path you knowingly choose for her and your memory?
Then my Lord you ask what force will stand up to the council, I would suggest that in a week’s time you walk out of your house and walk the streets as I did last evening, that is if you dare; and you will see where the force is going to come from. It is the people my lord, the unseen, the overlooked people of England who have nursed resentment against us for decades, they are the powder keg waiting to blow and the wick is burning. When it blows up there will be a new England, fresh and stronger, the council will be a thing of the past and there will be a King for the people to believe in.
But the King will need advisors and counselors and that is where people like you can still be of assistance, if of course you are a true Englishman and not simply another pig with his snout in the trough.”
‘How dare you Sir Edward, I could squash you without moments regret, how dare you accuse me of the same greed as Exeter and his like.”

“My Lord I accuse you of nothing and yes maybe you can squash me without a moments regret, that would likely be in the same manner your daughters inheritance and hopes for happiness will be squashed by the Duke of Kent and his son, she will be cast aside as a worthless woman all because you failed her when it mattered most.
But what surprises me my lord is that you think that the council will continue much longer, there is no basis for it, the only reason it remains in power is because the people have not had a choice for an alternative but if it’s a choice between the old corrupt council that has for decades fleeced them and a new chance for change with a King, the Council or at least the Nobles will only be swept away by the force of a revolution.”

Lord Hackett donned his hat, snatched his coat from a waiting butler and stormed away, he left the council chambers and as he waited in the foyer for his coach to arrive outside, he noticed through the windows of the foyer the crowds outside, they just stood there sneering and mocking the Lords and knights as they left the chambers and for the first time he saw them as people not a milling crowd that annoyed or delayed him. It scared him because for the first time when he thought of the results of what Sir Edward had said.
This mocking and sneering was nothing new, they had all experienced it, but some like he and the Duke of Kent were mocked far more than others, but in the past it was an annoyance, but now it felt different; it was menacing.

These people, this crowd would pull him out of his coach or indeed this building and murder him without a moment’s thought if they knew they had a chance for a new start, a new Government. Once it was known there was royal in England the Nobles will be swept aside unless they combined and overawed their countrymen by force, but what force when the soldiers they would use would as most likely be seeking their heads as well. The result would simply mean they would have to bring in foreign troops and the moment they did that all thought of a free England was gone.
Indeed he thought to himself, I am trapped by my past and by my daughter’s future, and it is all because of that boy and Edward Anders.
He had to make a decision and quickly, but first he had to talk to his daughter before tomorrows meeting.”

As Lord Hackett stormed away Lord Robert Castlemaine walked over to him, he slapped Sir Edward on the shoulder,
“Well done my dear Sir Edward, an admirable performance, quite spectacular. You have my support my dear man full and unqualified, for whatever its worth.”

“Thank you my Lord I am most appreciative but if I may ask my Lord what made you change your mind?”

“Well two things Edward, you are quite right about what the council has become, and like you in the past there was little I could do about it because there simply was no alternative to it, secondly if you will forgive me I overheard part of your conversation with our dear Lord Hackett and yes you are quite right. Once word gets out that a royal exists there will be a revolution in England, god knows where it will end and we along with your would be boy King may be swept aside by it, but it has to be better than what we have now.”

“Yes My Lord that is true, but only if word gets out far enough.”

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that Edward, I am sure it will spread like a wildfire” Lord Castlemaine replied, in fact I would not be surprised if it is already being spread around the city.”

Lord Castlemaine took his coat from the butler, in his mind he was already planning the story for his newspapers and pamphlet writers, yes word is out and may god forgive all of us for what is to come.

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