Is This The End?
July, 1294 Bishop’s Place
Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Leicester
The Welsh had been destroyed, their rebel leaders were dead or soon to be dead, the Scots had suffered losses as well, now the time had come to bring them to the negotiating table, the end of the war, and winnings for Edmund and the King. Bishop’s Place, just south of York was as good a place as any to hold these talks, near enough to their respective kingdoms to ensure peace and stability. A reminder also, to King David, of what came of fighting a war he was not needed in.
His nephew looked as if he had not slept for a long time, and Edmund felt a smugness at that, but also remorse, the boy was still blood. Clearing his throat, Edmund gestures to the document before them. “Your Majesty, welcome to Bishop’s Place. The document before you are the treaty we have both agreed to sign, to bring an end to the fighting between us.”
His nephew nods, and then looks around the room. “Where is the Welsh representative?”
Edmund smirks at that. “Wales belongs to King Edward, Your Majesty. They do not need a representative of their own choosing, I represent the King and therefore I represent them.”
He can tell his nephew does not much like that, but there is nothing he can do about that, and so his nephew merely asks. “Very well, shall we proceed?”
Edmund nods, then looking at John Langton briefly, he speaks. “In order for there to be peace, you must agree to not involve yourself in affairs south of your borders in York. If you do get involved, you will be seen as an enemy, and your lands will burn.” He pauses here, knowing full well that this might well be an empty threat, but knowing that it needs to be made. He continues. “You must recognise the fact that the Welsh people in being defeated in their rebellion and having surrendered have recognised the fact that they are subservient to the English crown, and the person of the King of England, His Royal Majesty, King Edward Second of his Name. Furthermore, any and all grievances that the Welsh people have had with the running of their country, shall be addressed by officials named and chosen by His Royal Majesty, King Edward. There can be no involvement of your person or that of your lords.”
Edmund takes one look at his nephew, and he can tell that the boy is quite angry at these terms, and yet the boy nods. “Very well, and what of the children of Rhodri ap Gruffudd? What will happen to them?”
Edmund looks at the boy and replies. “The boy Tomas shall be imprisoned within the tower for an indefinite period, whilst the girl Gwenllian shall remain in her nunnery. Their needs shall be met.”
Edmund expects his nephew to voice some sort of protest, but instead, he merely nods. “Very well. Is there anything else?”
Edmund shakes his head. “No, that is all Your Majesty.”
He is pleasantly surprised when the boy takes a quill from the desk, and begins signing his name down on the paper, before passing the paper to him. Edmund takes a quill and does the same. Once that is done, he hands the paper to John Langton, and takes another document, and signs it, watching as his nephew does the same and then passes the document to a burly Scot. That done, his nephew looks at him, then stands. “We are done here.” With that his nephew walks out of the room followed by his men.
Moments pass by in silence, then Edmund hears John Langton ask. “What does this mean now, my lord?”
Edmund turns and looks round at the small and stooped Lord Chancellor. “It means Your Grace, that we’ve got peace, and that my nephew knows now what happens if he tries to get involved in something that he is not needed in.”
“Will he let it lie, my lord?” Langton asks. “We know that he has quite the temper, and the death of his friend, Earl William might be too much of a bitter pill to swallow.”
Edmund takes a deep breath, thinking over the question, he knows exactly why the man asks such a question. Wallace’s body was found much later after the end of the battle, mutilated and scarred beyond recognition, that will be a bitter pill for his nephew to handle. “I believe that for now, my nephew, will have far too much to deal with back in his own lands, to consider fighting another war against us.”
“And what of the north, my lord?” Langton asks, Edmund finds his patience for the man slowly beginning to run out. “Will Bishop Bek, consent to easing off the fighting?”
Edmund stares at the man, then begins to laugh. “Why in the name of all that is holy, would he do that?”
“Because of the truce?” Langton stammers.
Edmund shakes his head. “That truce is to prevent David of Scotland from attacking us, not to stop us from attacking him. Give it time, the boy is like his father, he will soon do something on impulse and then we shall have our opening.”
“Is that wise my lord?” Langton asks. “The kingdom has yet to fully recover.”
Edmund stares at the man, giving him the glare he earned a reputation for as a young man. “It is the only sensible thing to do. I will not let me nephew, the King of England, rule over half a kingdom.” Before the man can say anything else, Edmund speaks. “Now take the document you hold back to London, and make sure the King and his regent hold it. We cannot allow this to be stopped.”
The man bows and turns and leaves the room, allowing Edmund to sit down at the table and pour himself a glass of wine. He takes a sip and sighs. This is going to be more difficult than he imagined. David will not lie down, and he is not sure they do have the men, but they do need to portray strength.
August, 1294 York
King David II Dunkeld
They buried William in the abbey of York, the Bishops said their prayers, and masses was sung, and David watched it all unfolding, feeling nothing but hollow. His friend, his oldest friend was dead. Gone, where David could not reach him, he had died on David’s order, fighting in the war, David had planned and ordered him to lead. Guilt gnawed at him, as he looked at William’s wife and young children, they were without a husband and father because of him, the boy David, was young, and was now Earl of York, someone who would be vied for, if he did not do something. He runs a hand through his hair, then turns to his brother by marriage, Robert Bruce and says. “I will take the boy to Stirling with me, it is only right.”
He can sense Bruce has something more on mind, but all he says is. “Of course Your Majesty, a smart solution.”
David nods, turning away from the sight that would haunt his every waking hour from now on. Instead he looks at the altar, and asks. “Tell me Robert, what is the feeling within the camp? Do the lords believe they have been cheated?” He needs to know, no matter what the question makes him sound like. He needs to know his lords are still loyal.
Bruce, to his credit tells him the truth. “They are relieved Sire. They know how much this war meant to your plans, but they did not feel it was right for them to get involved. Furthermore, they know that war will come soon enough, regardless of the truce. The English are wolves.”
David nods, he knows his uncle had thought he had bought the excuse of a treaty, but he knows more than that. Knows that his uncle will come crawling with an army soon enough. “That is good. Tell me, Robert, how go things between you and your wife?” He had heard of the marriage between his brother by marriage and Isabella of Mar, whilst he was away in the islands, a marriage he’d approved of, for his wife, if nothing else.
Bruce smiles at the mention of his wife. “Good my King. She is with child; I believe it will be a strong boy.”
David smiles at his brother by marriage. “That is good, I am happy for you.” He pauses, uncertain of what to say now, he never really knows what to say to his brother by marriage, well this one anyway, he finds it easier speaking to the younger one, Edward, but that brother was not here now, had returned to Turnberry Castle to oversee the lands there. David thinks for a moment and then says. “You may leave now Robert, but be alert, I will be speaking with you soon enough.” Bruce bows before departing, David looks away from the altar, and begins walking, where he is going he is not quite sure, but he knows he needs to walk and get out of the stifling air of the church.
He finds himself sitting on the steps of the church, his guards nearby, when he sees Sir John Stewart of Bonkhill, a fierce fighter. He calls out to the man, and watches as he comes before him and bows, David gestures to the step next to him and the man sits down. David is silent for a moment and then he says. “You fought well during the war Sir John, my reports tell me that. Tell me, what do you know of the people south of here?”
It is an odd question he knows, but David is finding that with the passing of his friend, his thoughts are taking a strange turn now and then, he needs something solid to hold him firm, he needs Isabel and their children, but his wife is in Stirling safe and protected. Sir John to his credit replies earnestly. “I know they are infested with English scum who would give nothing to cause more chaos. But they will not have the chance.”
David nods, he knows such a fierce fighter as Sir John will do well holding York as its guardian whilst its Earl grows up under his watchful eye. “Aye, you will do well. You have the walls of York, defended by the river, as well as the additions William made.” He stands up, patting the man’s shoulder. “Make sure you hold this place well. It is the gateway into my kingdom.”
Sir John stands as well and nods. “Of course Sire. I would not dream of letting it fall, to anyone.”
David hums his approval, before turning and walking away, not to the church, not to where his friend’s cold, lifeless body lies, but instead down and out and into the town itself, to loose himself in the feeling of the cold air on his skin, and perhaps a beer or two. He walks down the streets, sensing a changing wind, he remembers something his brother Alexander had once told him, long ago. “Never let them smell your worry, you are a Prince, they cannot know we feel the same as them.” That is something he has kept close in many times over his life, when he fought his uncles, when he took Alnwick, when he stared down a great beast of a man. All of these things he felt fear, but kept it buried, and used it. Now, now his friend is gone, and the fear seems to be running through him without a care of how it looks. His guards are behind him, but he has never felt more alone, than he does now. William had been his friend, his brother, his strong right hand. He will need to replace him as Lord High Constable, but the thought of doing that is a pain in his chest, there is no one worthy of the honour, but someone needs to be given it. He continues walking down the roads, turning right and left, before he stops. He stares at the cross, and swears then and there, that he will avenge his friend’s death, no matter how long it takes.