Saturday, April 20, 2013

The lessons a young King must learn


As news of the Royalist victory spread throughout the country the news as one would expect varied according to ones political sympathies. In the eyes of the Royalists it was one of the greatest victories of all time, to a Parliamentarian it was merely a skirmish, a testing of the resolve for both sides.

In London, Whitehall Palace was a buzz with excitement following the news of the victory, courtiers and palace lackeys alike all claiming to know of some aspect of the battle that others didn’t. Perhaps it was they knew General Anders personally, or they had heard from their brother who was a officer of the valiant 104th. That battalion alone was already reaching legendary status for their Spartan like defense of the St Johns wood.

For those in the know however, the battle heralded by a few as one of England’s finest was in fact a bloody draw. When the facts were considered the Royalist army had barely held its own and it was indeed fortunate to have come away intact.

The Prime Minister Sir Edward Anders had read the report from his brother Sir Leopold the commander of the Royalist forces at the battle, Sir Leopold was open and honest about his own failings and the problems the Royalists faced but more importantly he was sending a warning to King James's Government that future battles are likely to be costly and ruinous if Twynford was any indicator.

Sir Edward walked from his office along the corridors of the palace making his way to the Kings audience chamber, officially this room was where his majesty greeted dignitaries, diplomats and the like, but under King James the room had become sort of informal haunt for everyone of James favourites; some of whom Sir Edward seriously disapproved off.
Outside the chambers were stationed two of the Kings Guard as well as their commander General James Anders, James being Edwards son.
It was clear that James was quite agitated and as soon as he saw his father approaching James made his way quickly towards him, presumably to ensure he was out of hearing range of the two guards.

Edward smiled at his son, but the smile slowly disappeared as he he could see his son was quite angry.
“Good Grief James, you look decidedly beside your self at the moment, what on earth is the problem?”

“Its the King father, he is becoming impossible to work with and I am sick and tired of being a palace lackey, I want out of here; for gods sake get me a field command father and quickly.”

Edward quickly checked that no-one was near and taking his son by the elbow he lead him to an alcove in the corridor.

“Now James tell me what has happened?”

“Oh several things father, first of all I have been told by his majesty that I must wait out in the corridor in case he needs messages sent, me his Commander of the Guard becoming a message dispatcher, and now he is having a drunken revelry with his new friends in the audience chamber. One of whom I challenged because he had a sword, despite the fact I had ordered that no one may carry weapons in his majesty's presence unless they were his guard. James told me that he decided it was alright for his friends to remain armed, so what the hell is the use of me trying to protect him when he dismisses everything I do or say. And of course he then delegates me to wait outside until he is ready to employ me.
For gods sake father I am sick of it, if you dont find me a position in the army I will resign and return home, I have far better things to do there rather than play lackey to a jumped up boy who has overnight become King and has no idea as to behave as one. Lately to him, every day is a party with his rowdy friends.”

Edward nodded, he understood his son's predicament and he too had become concerned over the young Kings behaviour, it was coming to a time when there would need to be a readjustment in the Kings behaviour. If there wasn’t and word got out of the palace about the Kings behaviour then the people of London and England may see there is little to gain in fighting a war for a King that behaves no better than the Lords did before him.

“James you must have patience, I will talk to the King and make him understand he needs to change things, but son whether he knows it or not he needs you, we all need you; but more importantly we need you here close to him.”

“Well regardless of whether he needs me or not father, if things don’t change I will resign, so you do your best but be warned I am set in my mind to leave his service if he continues the way he has done so far.”

Edward nodded, realising that matters were quickly coming to a head and if he didn’t make the King see the error in his ways everything that Edward, Leopold and the Young Kings mother Sophia had done would soon be undone.
“Have you seen Lady Margret?” Edward asked.

His son frowned for a moment, “Yes she stormed out of chamber some time ago and she did not look happy”.
“Alright James I would ask you do me one more thing, please send someone to ask Sophia if she would come here and James, I think it best if you get some more guards, we may need them.”

Edward made his way to the chambers he paused a moment before opening the door, he then opened and walked in, the chambers normally a room of sombre occasions was instead one of hilarity noise and colour. There were people everywhere, some clearly drunk, some singing and every seemingly talking at the same time.

One young man bumped into Edward and yelled at him
“Get out of my way you damned old buffoon”. The younger man then realised he was abusing the Prime Minister and quickly retreated, Edward recognised him as the son of Lord Belmont.

Edward made his way through he throng of people it seemed that was being jostled and bumped by everyone in the room as he made his way forward, finally he caught sight of King James sitting at a table with a host of young ladies drooling over it and him. Beside the King was a smart well dressed young man, he was obviously the man his son had issues with as he wore a dress sword to his side, Edward could not recall seeing him before but decided he should remain and listen.
It seemed the discussion was on the recent Battle of Tywnford, so with more than a little interest Edward remained hidden amongst the crowd around the table, oddly it did not seem to occur to the masses intent on listening to the young man that the Prime Minister was in their midst.

The King enjoys his new friends


“Of course you know, Sire”, the young man continued his discussion “I am sure General Leopold was a capable General in his day, but sadly the pike and sword are no longer the weapons of choice, why I believe I could have fought that battle to a better conclusion, in fact I know I could have done so”.

James seemed to be more engrossed on the bosom of a young lady who appeared to be more out of her dress than in it, she was was leaning over the table facing him clearly drunk.
James merely nodded, almost transfixed on the view before him,
“Indeed Rodney” James asked “just how would you have fought the battle.”

“Flanking Sire. That is how the General should have fought this battle, outflanked em sire. Sadly though the older generals of today have no perception in this regard, its all up and at them, frontal attacks don’t you know.”

James smiled at the young lady, drawing his eyes momentarily away from the young ladies rather obvious assets as he sipped his goblet of wine.
“Marjorie my dear I do think we need you around the palace much more.”
“Why sire what could little old me do in a place like this?” she asked in a drunken sultry manner.
“Oh my dear we would find a position for you” he added, the whole group around the young King laughed.
“But sire are you not already engaged to Lady Margret, I fear she would not have the likes of me in your errrr employ sire, though I do feel I could satisfy you any position you found me.” she purred.

James smiled, “Well my dear I may be betrothed to the Lady Margret, but a King has certain advantages” and with a smile and a wink he added “and dare I say Marjorie, a King has certain needs”.

The young man clearly irritated by Marjorie taking all the Kings attention continued with his criticisms of the battle.
“Sire the trouble with the army these days is the officers are too old and fight battles of yesterday, Are you aware sire that I have written a pamphlet on how modern warfare should be fought .”

The King looked up from Marjorie, taking a goblet from her hands he drank the wine and looked at young Rodney.
“A pamphlet you say Rodney, now that is interesting; you must allow me to read it sometime.”

“Oh indeed sire, you must read and I am sure you will find it instructive.”
Another young man moved around the back of the King, glass of wine in his hand, spilling some of it down his front as he staggered.

“Sire why dont you make Rodney, the General in charge of your army, he knows more about fighting than any ten of your generals.”

The man drank the remainder of the glass, obviously to the relief of those around him for they feared they would also soon be wearing the contents. He leaned forward staggering against the King, placing his glass on the table he all of a sudden had the same view of Marjorie that the King had been enjoying of late, the young man looked up at her.
“My god Marjorie, you have grown somewhat since I tumbled you all those years ago”.

James lost interest in Marjorie at that remark, and if looks could have killed the looks the young man received from Marjorie would have had him dead at that instant.
The young drunken man staggered to his feet, looking across the table at all the young people about, he saw the head of an elderly man behind the others,
“Ye gods, there is an old man in the room, sire I believe your butler must have wandered in.”

James tried to see the old man but couldn’t for the mass of people around him, he was tiring of the drunken mob anyway so he stood up, and then saw the look on his uncles face.

Edward turned from the crowd and made his way to the door as he did so the gathering were jeering at the butler running for the door, opening it he saw his son who was standing there with half a dozen guardsman, along side them was Sophia the Kings mother, lady Margret and rather surprisingly Lord Hackett, Margret’s father and the most prominent lord supporting the King.
“General” Edward said in a clear voice, “ clear this room of this riff raff. And that young man wearing the sword he is to be shown the door and never permitted to enter the Palace again.

General James smiled and followed by his guardsman entered the room and began to rather unceremoniously clear the party goers out.

The young King stormed into the centre of the room, and yelled
“Stop this, I demand you stop this, these people are my friends and here and they remain here because I want them too.”

Edward looked at his nephew and then nodded to the guardsmen to continue to remove them, again James yelled at the Guardsmen, you will stop this and leave the room, I will deal with you all later; I am your King.'

Lord Hackett walked in and stood beside Edward.
“Sire if you wish your drunken friends can remain, then they will be able to regale what is about to be said to their friends in all the taverns of London, so if it is your wish they should stay; then so be it.”

Lord Hackett paused for a few moments looked at Edward and then to his daughter and then walked up to James.
He pointed to the throne chair at the end of the room,
“If you think that chair over there makes you a king, then lad I am sorry for you. There is more to Kingship than than being popular with societies drunkards and whores. Do you not realise what has happened to make you King, High born people have sacrificed positions, wealth and favours to make you king, poor people, people you have never met have died on the field of battle to make you King. Your own family have risked all to make you King, your own Uncle and your cousin here, lost a son and brother to make you king, in all of that I ask you what have you done to be a King.
You have done nothing, you have humiliated my daughter and because of that you have humiliated me, you have stood here listening to that young fool over there slander your own step father and god only knows how your uncle and cousin feel at the moment when they look upon what they have lost to put you in a wooden chair so you could make fools of them.
James, if you think I will continue to support you in making fools of us all, think again, at a word I can withdraw my support and by my lead I am sure many other lords supporting you will do so as well. So by all means James, keep your friends here but beware when the parliamentary mob pour through that door there, the only thing between you and them will be this drunken mob, so you decide wisely, and if we are to stay then you will need to change, if they are to stay then I pray for your soul.”

The effects of the wine suddenly seemed to have gone from the young King, he looked at Lord Hackett, then to his Uncle and his mother, then he nodded to his cousin the commander of the Guard.
“Clear them out” the King he said rather shakily.

As the guardsmen cleared the room, King James made his way back to the table, a table awash with wine and food.
He sat down head in his hands.

Edward came up to him and pulled up a chair near him as did his mother,
“James you were not born a King nor born into a world of Royalty, because of that all of this is new and confusing. One simple truth in being King is as I have told you before simply find your power base and make it work for you.
We in this room are your power base and we want you to succeed, but there will always be people like those you have just sent away hovering in the outskirts of the court. They are leeches James, they will suck the life out of your rule as much as they will from your power-base. They have no other interest other than their own profit and gain, so for gods sake James realise to be King does not mean everyone is or should be your friend”.

James looked up at his uncle, then to his mother and he saw the tears in her eyes,
“I am sorry, I know I have acted like a fool, but you know I never asked to be a King, I was happy back home in Germany, but all of a sudden one day people started telling me I was to be King of England. You know, not one of you bothered to ask what I wanted, but I was caught up in this thing, this energy that everyone created that I should be King. Yes I believed you all, that my right is to be king, but then it seems to have to occurred to me that in being King I should have certain privileges and part of those privileges was having friends.”
He looked up at Margret, “You know you all were born to your stations in life, you were raised up knowing what was expected and what was not, who was acceptable and those that were not, in a matter of a few months I have tried to learn what has taken all you all your lives to learn and understand.
But the one thing I have always known is the people I love, I love them because they are important to me as people, not because of what station they held in life.”
He stood and walked over to his mother, taking her hand.
“Mother I have been an idiot, and I will probably continue to be an idiot, but I will promise to try and not be such a big one in the future.”
He turned to Margret, “To you I owe the biggest apology for dishonouring you earlier today, that was unforgivable but never the less I do ask for you forgiveness Margret.”
Margret smiled at him, then James turned to Edward
“Uncle I am so sorry for so many things, for the things I said in here today, for the things I allowed to be said and whether you believe it or not I do realise what you have given up and lost to help me be King.”

For a moment the young monarch paused and then he walked over to Lord Hackett,
“My lord, you were right in all the things you have said, but do know this I have never taken your support as a right, even in my blindness and stupid behaviour I have known I owe you much. I love your daughter not because of your support but for the woman she is, I honour you however not for what you have done for me, nor for what you can do for me, I honour you because you believed in me from the outset.” He then smiled as he turned back looking at Margret
“But of course my Lord our relationship works both ways does it not, I take that tiresome daughter off your hands and make her a Queen do I not.”
Lord Hackett smiled, “Indeed you do sire, indeed you do; and please do it soon before the burden of controlling her becomes unbearable.”

Finally he walked over to his cousin,
“You my friend I apologise to most of all, because you have had to put up with my overbearing ways for the last month or so, what can I do to make it up to you Cousin”.

In an instant James said “Give me a field command”.
Both Edward and Lord Hackett said almost as one, “No not that”.

The King turned and walked back to the table, he looked at his cousin then to Edward,
“No James I cannot give you a field command just yet, as you have seen I need a strong right hand man beside me, someone who has nothing to gain by staying with me and dear cousin you are that poor object. But in return I promise never to take you for granted anymore and should this accursed war drag on then indeed I will look to giving you a field command if you can find me a new right hand man”.

The King then walked to the throne, sat down and looked to Edward who stood there amongst the others, smiling and thankful that a near crisis had been averted.
“Now my dear Prime Minister, is it business as usual that brought you to this room, what is it you have come to see me about?”

For a moment Edward had forgotten what it was he was coming to see the King over, but then he remembered the message in the folder in his hands,

“Oh indeed sire I had forgotten as it were, well considering what has just transpired it is almost nothing Sire, merely that the French have landed”.

3 comments:

  1. "merely that the French have landed". okay well if that is a small thing then I guess so is the British Isles... I would have made a big deal of it. anyway you have to love the attitudes of those times.

    great story, and who was the man with the sword? anyway that pretender royalist general had it wrong a flanking manoeuvre with that small force could have ended in disaster. with only limited forces to hold the parliamentarians back any less holding the line could have led to it being broken.

    anyway a great story! and now its set to get interesting, with the French on the shores.

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  2. LOL - yes with all the domestic issues the French seem to be more of a nuisance than anything else, but their landing at this stage is in reality only a small step in a escalating war.

    The man in the sword re-appears soon.

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    1. cool, a mysterious man with a sword who is going to reappear and a French invasion its sounding pretty good.

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