Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Tony Riches’ most recent novel, Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer, as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club. This is the third book in The Elizabethan Series.
Greenwich Palace, 1584
I’d never seen the presence chamber so crowded. The queen sat on her gilded throne, flanked on both sides by her ladies in their best gowns. Every space was filled with courtiers, and I was pleased to see all the members of the Privy Council, including Lord Burghley and my nemesis, Sir Christopher Hatton.
There were gasps and muttered comments as we entered. I’d been right. Her Majesty’s newest subjects were the talk of London, and I had become the centre of attention. I strode forwards and bowed, relishing the moment.
‘Your Majesty, I present Manteo and Wanchese, from the New World, now claimed as the empire of Virginia.’
Although we’d provided them with warmer clothing, as they suffered with the cold of London in autumn, they were bare-chested and bare-footed, showing their tattooed bodies. With iridescent feathers in their plaited hair, they dressed in loincloths, with black furs draped over their shoulders, increasing their wild appearance.
As prepared in our rehearsal at Durham House, they marched confidently through the crowded chamber and fell to their knees before the queen. Manteo greeted her in his own language, then Wanchese opened a small box containing the bracelet of pearls.
The queen stared at her visitors with open curiosity, then took the pearl bracelet and turned to me. ‘We wish to thank them. Do they understand any English?’
‘These men are chieftains of their people, and the bracelets are a gift from their queen, Your Majesty. Chief Manteo is learning a little English, and Master Thomas Harriot is learning what he can of their language.’
‘Tell Master Harriot to explain that we thank their queen for her gift, and commend their bravery in making the journey to England.’ She turned the pearl bracelet in the light, and looked up at me. ‘Did your men discover gold or jewels?’
‘What they found is worth more than gold or jewels, Your Majesty.’ I paused and looked around the chamber, aware of my new status. ‘They discovered rich, fertile land, stretching as far as they could see, and claimed it in the gracious name of Your Majesty.’ I pointed to Manteo and Wanchese. ‘These men made my captains most welcome, and will help us understand the opportunities of the country of Virginia for the benefit of your colonists.’
* * *
The first of my rewards proved a surprise. I’d been appointed the junior Member of Parliament for Devon. Parliament had not met for twelve years, and my tax on broadcloth exports was unpopular with influential wool merchants in Exeter, so my new appointment was unexpected.
Sir Francis Walsingham was quick to explain. ‘This is the fifth meeting of the queen’s reign, which the Privy Council has recommended to discuss national security.’
‘There is talk at court that the Throckmorton Plot is only part of a wider Catholic conspiracy.’
Sir Francis nodded. ‘My informers on the Continent discovered plans for an invasion of England led by Henry, Duke of Guise, financed by the Spanish and the Vatican.’ He frowned. ‘We have to do whatever we can to prevent a simultaneous revolt of English Catholics.’
‘Do you think they might try?’ With a jolt, I realised how quickly everything I’d built up could vanish, like a morning mist.
‘You’ve seen the seditious pamphlet they call Leicester’s Commonwealth?’
‘I have, but no one, apart perhaps from the Earl of Leicester, takes it too seriously—’
‘That’s where you’re wrong, Master Raleigh. The Catholic faction draws encouragement from such works, and there are thousands of copies in circulation on the Continent. The pamphlet is a threat to our queen. We mustn’t forget Prince William of Orange was murdered by a man he trusted, a Catholic named Balthasar Gérard, who used a pistol at close range.’ Sir Francis shook his head. ‘He was assassinated at dinner in his own house, a reminder why we have to be prepared for anything.’
‘What do you wish me to do?’
‘A new act is to be put before Parliament, for the safety of the queen, to prevent any open invasion or rebellion, or any attempt to injure Her Majesty. Any person found guilty will be disbarred from inheriting the throne, and sentenced to death for treason.’
‘Including the queen’s cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots?’
He nodded. ‘Catholic sympathisers in Parliament will do all they can to delay, so use your influence to ensure the act is passed.’
I looked at him in surprise. I had no experience of politics, or as a Member of Parliament, and hadn’t seen myself as capable of political influence. Sir Francis Walsingham sat like a spider in the complex web of court, and his words proved that, at last, I’d achieved my ambition.
Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.
He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?
The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors’ podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches
Book Title: Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer
Series: The Elizabethan Series, Book 3
Author: Tony Riches
Publication Date: 1st May 2022
Publisher: Preseli Press
Page Length: 332 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction