Pamplona, 24 March 1526
‘Your Highness,’ the servant bowed, your son and lady Marguerite have safely reached Pau.’ ‘Good,’ thought Queen Blanca. ‘And the Savoyards?’ she asked. ‘I’m afraid they’re very close. We have a day or two at most before they encircle the town.’ The queen waved the girl away. She knew her army had been dispersed, she knew the walls of Pamplona wouldn’t stop the invaders. It was just a question of time. Time. Blanca closed her eyes and remembered the words from the letter from her most formidable bragant, Justine.
Valencia, 20 December 1526
‘…Timing is everything. Now is the perfect time, My Lady. Both France and Castile are busy with their dynastic problems. They’re too busy to intervene. Aragon is of no importance. We can count on the sympathy and support of the Protestant princes of Europe, the movement is on the rise. The House of Savoy is unlikely to get involved, there’s a large minority of our followers in Savoy proper; our people have been living in the valleys there for centuries, undisturbed. As you have in your childhood. I don’t think Carlos will risk internal tension in such turbulent times. We have to hope our insignificance is our shield; it’ll allow us to remain overlooked. But this spark, this spark will ignite the fire. Lux Lucet in Tenebris.’
Queen Blanca II gambles
Carlo I of Savoy reacts
Pamplona, 1 September 1526
The clamour of the skirmishes reached her ears. The Savoyards were at it again. Blanca calmly came to the window. Looked out. The Savoyards and their banners filled up the courtyard. Her guard were withdrawing. ‘Now,’ she nodded to the pageboy who ran down the stair to deliver her order. She kept looking. Minutes passed and than she saw the captain of her guard give signals of the will to surrender. The noises subsided, she saw the information about the imminent victory being passed on by Savoyard soldiers to their rear ranks, beyond the courtyard. A moment later she saw him; mounted, riding into the courtyard, his silvery armour glistening, the plumes on his helmet waving. He wanted to receive her surrender in person.
Blanca looked sideways and made out the darkened silhouette, a shadow hidden in the nearby turret; the longbowman; one Chris Tayler; ‘the follower of our creed’ as Justine assured. ‘Now,’ she thought. She let a white dove out of her hands, the bird flew out of the window; so did the arrows. The swish was barely audible. But they hit the target right. The shouts of despair and disbelief and the commotion down there left no room for doubt. Blanca gave the sigh of relief. The remnants of Navarrese army resumed the fight from their hiding places. The surprise attack on the trapped Savoyards seemed successful. The loss of their ruler and leader broke their morale and put in chaos in their actions. ‘There’s still hope,’ thought Blanca. To play it safe, she threw the letter into the fire; the flames slowly consumed the words of the letter.
Valencia, 22 July 1526
‘My Lady, King Carlo is a proud and vain man. With a tendency to show off. He’ll be easily recognisable. He’ll be wearing his famous silver-covered armour. At his helmet there’ll be plumes of white and red, distinguishing him from other high-ranked nobles. He’ll stand out. Timing will be crucial. You know what needs to be done. Lux Lucet in Tenebris.’
Had to be done
Navarre turned protestant and I deemed it a perfect opportunity to bind it even closer with Savoy. The king died during the siege of course, though there's a twist to his death.
The Quiz: What creed is Justine referring to?