The Irishman shouts: "The King is dead, long live the King! ...Right?"
It was early in the morning of the 16th of April 1402 when the messenger arrived at the castle in Leinster. He ran in the throne room and shouted: “The King is dead!”
The young Art smirked. “So, that bastard finally bit the dust, did he?”
“Quite literally, my liege.”
“Good.” He paused for a moment, before turning to another man. “You, make preparations for my coronation later today.”
Art couldn’t wait. Now his father was gone, it was his turn to rule. That afternoon, he was crowned King of Leinster. He stood in the courtyard of his castle. His castle. Finally. He spoke to the assembled masses in a slightly sarcastic voice.
“People of Leinster! Sad news reached my ears this morning. My dear father passed away late last night. The King is dead!”
The masses knelt before him. “Long live the King!” was their reply.
Art was a young man, only 18. His posture was majestic, his intelligence and drive, however, were not. Basically, he was the opposite of his father in almost every way possible. His father had been a short, driven, charismatic and intelligent man. Art himself was tall, lazy, ordinary and dumb, even though he would never admit that last part. He had never been any good at anything involving people, except for fighting them.
Although he wouldn’t admit it, he knew he needed advice. So, he appointed three advisors to help him rule. Two of them, Joachim Sanders and Martinus Agno, were clever bankers. They helped Art with creative accounting, to reduce the country’s debts. The third, Helmut de Turckheim, was a skilled diplomat. He had a way with people, and he took care of international business, in Art’s stead.
Art was happy now. He had despised his father with his entire body and soul. He had never been there for his son, he had always been too busy planning his precious conquest.
‘And the moment he won, he died! Ha, serves him right!’ Art thought to himself as he sat down on his throne.
“Well, well, dear brother. You must be happy.”
Art looked up and stared into his older sister’s cold blue eyes. She was a 28 year old beauty, short and slender, with long red hair and freckles on her cheeks. She was the widow of a knight, who died in one of the recent wars, and had one son. He was the spitting image of his grandfather, and was now 12 years of age.
“You’re damned right I am.” He chuckled. “My time to rule has come, sister. And neither you nor that son of yours can do anything about that.”
“Just you wait, little brother.” she replied. “You won’t be ruling for long, I can promise you that much.”
Art scoffed at her, his eyes filled with contempt. He despised her. She was just like their father. He needed a way to get rid of her and her son, soon, or they would get rid of him, he was sure about that.
The opportunity that Art needed came soon. In June 1402, the King of Denmark sent another message.
Art didn’t hesitate, and instantly offered him the hand of his sister. The King accepted and Art said farewell to his sister and her son, grinning. He was obviously very pleased with himself. He would never see her and that awful son of hers again, and he was grateful for it.
Lazy and stupid as he was, Art II wasn’t a great leader. He couldn’t be bothered to order his local governors around, and, soon after he married off his sister, he gave the local governments even more responsibility than they already had.
The next months passed quietly. Summer slowly turned into fall. Absolutely nothing happened in the Kingdom, there wasn’t even the slightest sign of any trouble whatsoever. Most of Eire was united, and at peace. Art’s sister was safely in Denmark, and the merchants abroad were doing great, competing with merchants of major powers, like the Danes and the Ottomans.
Then, on the 4th of September 1402, some rumours reached Art’s ears. Apparently, the Pope himself had excommunicated Burgundy from the Holy Roman Church. Art snickered when he heard the news, and praised himself for his country’s good relations with the Pope. Leinster would never be excommunicated! He was proud of his country. Clearly his rule was a good one so far.
More months passed, and fall gave way to winter. Art’s bankers noticed that Leinster’s trade income dropped steadily. After a short investigation, they came to the conclusion that the Danish traders were so good at what they did, that they kept competing away Leinster’s merchants. There was only one solution.
“My liege, we are losing money.”
“That’s old news, my friends. Leinster has been losing money forever.” Art replied, uninterested.
“The merchants, my lord, they...”
“Last time I checked, the merchants were fine.” Art looked up. “Aren’t they?”
The banker shook his head. “No, sir. We are experiencing heavy competition from the Danish merchants.”
“Then do something about it! Don’t bother me with this!”
“Already working on it, my liege. We simply need your signature and seal, for this trade agreement, before we present it to the Danish King.”
Art grunted. “Sure.” He scribbled his signature on the piece of parchment his advisor held out to him, without even looking at it. “The seal is in my working chambers. Feel free to use it.”
The bankers bowed. In December 1402, the trade agreement was offered to, and accepted by the King of Denmark.
Eighteen months passed, without as much as a negative tiding from anywhere. By the 19th of June 1404, Leinster still fared well, stable and united. Art yawned. The expression on his face was dull as he leaned back in his throne. He called for his advisors and trusted friends.
“I’m bored. Entertain me.”
The three hesitated, looking at one another. “Um... Sire...” one started.
“How about... we threw a party?” the second one said carefully.
Art’s eyes lit up a little. “A party! That is a great idea, my best man!” He jumped to his feet. “Alright, tell me. What did you have in mind? Many young girls and loads of whiskey to enjoy, I presume?”
“Of course, my lord.”
“Arrange it! Tonight, this castle will be filled with fun!” Art smiled contently as he sent his advisors away. “I always have such brilliant ideas.”
Later that evening, the castle was filled with guests and music. As Art had requested, there were many young girls and loads of whiskey to enjoy. And enjoying himself he was. The party was about to turn into a massive orgy, when suddenly a young boy appeared, a sword at the ready in his right hand. The boy smirked as he saw Art’s surprised face.
“Hello uncle. Didn’t expect to see me today, did you?” The boy looked around. “Oh, and by the way... nice party.”
Art hissed through his teeth. “I thought I put you and that wretched wench of a mother of yours away in Denmark!” His eyes were filled with anger. “You are ruining my party, boy. What the hell do you want?”
“Your life and your throne.” The boy grinned. “En garde, uncle!”
As he saw the boy leap towards him, Art jumped back. He ran towards the fireplace and took the sword that decorated the mantelpiece. He faced the boy. “Silly boy...” he muttered, and hiccuped. He was drunk, but miraculously, his skill in duelling wasn’t really affected by it.
Both Art and the boy were competent swordsmen. At first, Art seemed overwhelmed by the boy’s skill, but he fought back vigorously. They moved back and forth through the room, and at some point, even up the great staircase towards the balcony. After a while, Art managed to hurt the boy badly, slashing open a large wound on his leg. The boy yelped and ran towards the railing of the balcony, limping. He looked down, and without hesitation, he jumped. He groaned as he rolled over the hard stone floor. He let go of his sword, feeling a stinging pain shoot through his leg. When he looked at it, he realised his leg was twisted in a strange way. He tried to stand, but failed, wailing in pain.
“Oh no, boy, you’re not going anywhere!” Art shouted as the boy jumped. He smiled satisfied when he heard the boy's wail. He glanced around quickly to see the party guests watch the duel in awe, spotting the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. He could jump towards it, and swing onto the platform that bore the throne. He nodded to himself. This was the best idea he had ever had. He had already won. The boy was down, waiting to be slaughtered. What could go wrong?
He climbed onto the railing and leaped, successfully grabbing the chandelier. Dangling from it, Art swung back and forth two times, to make sure he would have enough speed to make the next leap towards his throne. The wooden ceiling creaked, and then, without further warning, cracked, just as Art was about to let go. The chandelier fell from the ceiling. Art, still holding on, was crushed by its enormous weight. He died instantly.
The boy smirked. “Who’s the silly boy now, uncle?”
The boy tried to push himself up, but failed. Seeing him fail, a lovely young girl, maybe 16 years old, pulled him up. He smiled at her. Then he turned towards the guests.
“My uncle is dead. He left no sons. Therefore, I, Art III, claim the throne of Leinster as my own, as is my right. The King is dead!”
“Long live the King!”
And so the very short reign of Art II, King of Leinster, ended on the 19th of June 1404, in his castle. His last thoughts: "Wow, I never knew that chandelier was so heavy."