A King Under Seige by Mercedes Rochelle

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Mercedes Rochelle’s novel of Richard II, A King Under Siege, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. A King Under Siege is the first book in the series The Plantagenet Legacy.

St. John’s chapel used to be a comforting place—before the Great Revolt. Now, Richard associated it with the murder of Sudbury, since it was here that he was seized by the rebels and dragged to his death. Lit by candles only on the main floor, the high ceiling receded into the gloom. But there was enough light for Richard to see the determination on the Appellants’ faces.  Feeling petulant, he sat down on a first row bench.

Gloucester walked in front of him, still brandishing the damning letters. “We repeat our demands. We demand the arrest and imprisonment of Michael de la Pole, Robert de Vere, Justice Tresilian, and Archbishop Neville. Sir Nicholas Brembre is already imprisoned.”

Richard shivered. He hadn’t realized that Brembre was taken. He raised his head, pursing his lips. “You may arrest the others if you can find them,” he snapped.

Ignoring his remark, Gloucester went on. “For the honor and the good of your kingdom you will remove from your palace the tale-bearers, flatterers, malicious slanderers, and useless people who disgrace your sovereignty and you will replace them with others who will be more honorable—”

“You overstep your authority!” Richard cried.

“By God we do not! You have surrounded yourself with sycophants and they must be cast out!”

“I will cast no one out of my household. How dare you attempt to make such demands?”

“You forget who is en puissance here!” Gloucester shouted. “We decide who is to stay and who is to go.”

Blinking, Richard shrank back for a moment. Arundel took a step forward.

“That is not all. We order you to arrest and bring to trial the following traitors: your seneschal Lord Beauchamp of Holt; your confessor Thomas Rushook; Sir Simon Burley, constable of Dover Castle; Sir Thomas Tryvet, Sir Nicholas Dagworth, Sir James Berners, Sir William Elmham, Sir John Salisbury—”

“You seek to eliminate all my chamber knights! Their only crime is their loyalty to me—”

“Your clerks, Richard Medford, Richard Clifford, and John Lincoln. We also appeal Justices Robert Belknap, John Holt, William Burgh, John Lockton, John Blake, and John Fulthorpe.”

“They only obeyed my commands! They are not culpable.”

“There are others we shall merely banish; they are a drain on the crown’s financial resources.”

“Enough!” Richard leapt to his feet. “This is unendurable. You seek to remove all my supporters, all my advisors—”

“Yes. All of them.” Gloucester put his face next to Richard’s; the king stepped back involuntarily. “You have misgoverned the realm with impunity. You have been misled, deluded, misguided by those who only want to advance themselves. They took advantage of your youth—”

“Oh, not that old refrain! You have overused that device.”

“They will be cast out!”

“Never!”

Letting out his breath in disgust, Thomas turned his back on the king. He looked at Bolingbroke, jerking his head at Richard. “Show him.”

Richard turned from one to the other. Henry came over to him, daring to put his arm through the king’s, and led him to the window. They stood together, observing activities in the inner ward. Rowdy soldiers had set bonfires in the open space and amused themselves—some practicing their swordplay, some throwing dice, others passing around a wineskin. All wore their armor.

“Cousin,” said Bolingbroke quietly, “they may be enjoying themselves right now, but make no mistake. They support our cause and will help us keep the peace.”

“Your peace,” said Richard bitterly.

“If necessary.”

“And I am to give up everything.”

Henry shrugged. “We are here to make an understanding.”

“Oh, I understand. I understand all too well.” He pulled away and went up to the altar, wrapping his hands around the edge.

“I am your king,” he said to the room. “My household is my own. My advisors are my own. You may not assault my prerogative.”

Gloucester whirled around. “When will you understand? You have no power. You have no support. You have no army. You have no say! If you do not comply, you have no crown!”

There. It was said. Suddenly subdued, Richard seemed to collapse into himself. He gaped at Bolingbroke who walked away from the window. He turned his eyes to Mowbray who stood with his arms crossed. He blinked at Warwick who gripped his sword. He couldn’t bring himself to face the others. He shut his eyes.

“It happened once, not too long ago.” Gloucester’s voice cut the silence like a steel blade. “Remember that there is a full-grown heir to succeed you.”

Despondent, Richard failed to see Henry jerk his head in surprise.

“You cannot do this,” the king said, though his conviction had fled.

“We can and we will. We will do what we must.”

Richard gasped then caught his breath. Gloucester curled his lip. “Remember what I said. The game is over. You have lost. Submit or face deposition.”

Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants’ Revolt terrorized London. But he proved himself every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert himself against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grandfather Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard’s inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.

A King Under Seige is available at
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Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

For more information about Mercedes and her books click on the links below
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Amazon Author PageGoodReads

More information on the Coffee Pot Book Club and other works of quality historical fiction can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Book Title: A King Under Siege
Series: (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 1)
Author: Mercedes Rochelle
Publication Date: 5th January 2019
Publisher: Sergeant Press
Page Length: 313 Pages
Audio Narrator: Kevin E. Green
Genre: Historical Fiction

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