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Zmf9Db3.jpg


Prologue

* * *

St. Edmund’s Abbey, 1447

The Abbot Whethamstead moved briskly down the cold and damp hallway, his hands trembling and his heart certainly racing. The knock had come at such a late hour, who could it possibly be? He shuffled as quickly as his sandaled feet allowed and soon made it to the great door of his house. He could think back to just a fortnight before when it appeared that all might be well. There was a reconciliation of sorts and a meet between the King and his uncle. But in no time at all, that good faith had been torn asunder by agents acting in the good Duke’s name and now, it was surely an act of retribution that heralded the abbot out of his bed.

He placed his candle on a short table next to the door, and with both arms pulled with strength to allow the cold air outside to enter along with whomever felt the need to visit at this hour of the night. Wind whipped passed as the freezing temperatures from outside met the already cold interior. Abbot Whethamstead turned his face away to try and brace himself as two large men pushed their way into the abbot’s presence.

“Good evening, fine pilgrims. What is it that you seek?” The abbot played the perfect host, even at such an hour. It was habit, or expediency, but anything to move the men on and allow for just a slight bit more sleep before prayers.

“I think you know who we’re after. Just point the way and never you mind about the rest,” the first bulky soldier barked as he stepped forward and crowded the abbot.

“I…I don’t know at all what you mean, good sir…”

The second pulled his mate aside when the question presented itself and the two men backed away slightly even though the abbot could overhear their brief discussion.

“You sure this is right? You spoken with Bracken?”

“Yes…and him to his master and on it goes.” Turning back to the abbot, the first pressed him even closer to the wall, “It’s a bit of business for the King. Now allow us pass or we shall force it.”

Whethamstead wriggled out of the large man’s frame and shuffled down the hallway quickly, “You may look to the apartments, my good gentlemen. I’ll not stop you. But please…give care to the noise. There are others sleeping, if you mind.”

The two men went towards the apartments as directed while the abbot watched them. A pity, it was. The Duke was a good man, or so the abbot felt, and thus his leisure to stay here. But it was surely known that his nights would not be long given the current frame of mind. The recent demand that he show himself before the court was proof enough of that in these times. And there was little Whethamstead might do to change the picture. Not tonight at least. Only prayers…that might be enough. Pray for the sinners for surely they must be.

As he began to move back towards his own warm bed, he heard the men call after him, “We’ll be needing the key, if you please.”

Yes, of course…the key to the locked apartment where the Duke slept. He had been instructed to keep him so and was loath to dispute the King’s writ. The abbot could keep up the ruse no longer and answered “I have it here, my sons. Lead on and I shall follow.”

That he did as they made their way to the room. Back outside and through the biting cold and then once more into the apartments kept for noble persons, they approached the room and Abbot Whethamstead made shift to move passed them and open the door with a key dangling gently from a chain on his neck. He pulled it over his head and with trembling fingers did his best to unlock the door without dropping it. Once the door swung wide, the two men pushed him aside and hurried into the room, the first making a direct line towards the slight bed that held the Duke. The second simply stood and waited.

Abbot Whethamstead watched the first man kneel down and stop short as he noticed something odd. In fact, so too did the abbot. The second took a step forward when he noticed his partner’s reticence,

“What is it?”

The first finally turned back and gave a knowing smile, “I think our work here is done.”

Shocked, the second moved closer and looked down at the man. He looked a second time just in case he missed something on the first pass. And then he bent down and felt at the man’s chest.

“Blimey…he dead!”

“Right. And that means our business is concluded, old friend. Now about that tavern…”

The first was up again and quickly out of the room as the second kept his eyes firmly on the dead body before them. He turned to the abbot just in time to see him cross himself.

Clearly irritated, the first man moved back into the room and glared at his friend, “You planning on joining in tonight?”

“Yeah…I am…but…”

The second kept looking at the Duke, even as his friend passed him. When he called out to go, the second turned and followed, but not before stopping one last time at the door and looking at the man for a final moment.

With irritation the first followed, “What the bloody hell is it, you bastard? I’m thirsty.”

The abbot shook his head in disdain but not enough to show his guests and was quickly moving to place a white sheet over the dead man’s face as the second answered his mate,

“I dunno…there lies good Duke Humphrey. It’s a bit sad when you think on it…”

“What so bleedin’ sad? He’s another one of them. They’s only good for as far as pay goes. And this one lost his purse a long time ago. Come on, there’s a woman I’m up for.”

With that the two men exited and moved back into the night while the abbot tended to his friend and one time benefactor. Indeed, deceased on the bed was Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester…brother to King Henry V and uncle to the current King…long since lost his purse and power. He was now dead and no longer a threat to the throne.

As Abbot Whethamstead walked from the room he crossed himself once more and thought in quiet introspection. Clearly this time was not meant for peace and goodwill but recrimination and spite. And so it had been for too long now. A family, seemingly torn apart by factions and jealousy, had fought tooth and nail to take and keep power in the lands and it did not look to end soon. The only question in the abbot’s mind, and surely in the minds of the King and his retinue, was who might take the place of this good Duke?

A third time crossing himself allowed the abbot’s mind to focus and he realized that if no suitable candidate was apparent readily, one would shine through as the sun shines each day. Soon all of England would feel the weight of men’s egos as they pressed their advantages and sulked in their defeats. Soon another would rise to challenge and continue this ever-present cycle. Soon the roses of Plantagenet, white and red, would bleed for God and Jesus would weep. The abbot crossed himself a final time as he shuddered. He could not bear the thought.
 
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coz1

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The announcement:

Here is a new story thread. It's an AAR, certainly. And one I've wanted to write for quite some time. Some may know I have the latest Creek AAR ongoing (such as it is and see my sig) but I wanted to write more narrative and this, maybe...finally, is where I can place that work. The work you read above is not new. It is exactly what I wrote nearly 14 years ago in 2007 when first I began considering this project. I will have some few more to follow that were also from that time, but it was all as lead up to the actual story. I never could find the game, but maybe...possibly...I have that now.

The conceit:

I wanted to tell the story of the Wars of the Roses and couldn't find the right game to model it. Yet I think to expand upon that in some or many ways. What I think to do now, at this later date, is to include more characters. And allow the game to adjust and cause me to move them throughout history. I am considering four to six potential characters/families beyond our historical figures. I will certainly be considering the major figures of the day, but I will also introduce others that I hope will be just as interesting.

The start:

A typical 1444 start with England knowing that the WOTR is coming (patched up but without DLCs.) I've done everything (or lack thereof) to make certain it happens. And the result? That will be part of the story. Whatever it is.

A starting screenshot:

5X2dyIl.png


The notification:

I have a few more posts from when I tried to start this the last time. They will follow in timely fashion until I catch up. Not too many, but I thought it was good work. Still do. I hope to maintain that level as I continue. Kings, Queens, Councillors and/or Beauforts (or are those the same thing?) But on down to the common man or woman. Some may rise. Some may fall. But at this late date, I think to tell a story that is more than just a tale of the monarch(s) and instead branch it out.

The game:

I will never promise that I know how to play. Because I don't. But once I move past a period of time, I will try and play as best as possible. But for this time, know that I am trying to model history so I have not done things one might otherwise do. Not pushing against France at this date. Not pushing against Scotland. Let us get into the WOTR and see what happens.

The result:

I don't know. But I hope that you will read. Thank you in advance. I'm rather excited to finally get this project off the ground. I'm always interested in feedback, so if the old doesn't match the new please let me know. Better...worse? Both great? Both terrible? I'm open to it. Please feel free to offer constructive criticism. Also gameplay when we get there. It's all fair game and I have the tough skin to handle it at this late date.

What has already been written was in preparation for what I finally have here. I hope to keep that same vibe, no matter how the game or characters go. And I'm actually quite excited that it took this long to find the story. I think this is a far better idea than I had 14 years ago. Could be wrong...so I'll leave it to you to let me know. ;)

 
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Nikolai

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Amazing to see you back at the game @coz1 ! Not only one AAR, but two! And this second one seems to be of the grand style we know you master so well! :D
 
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An @coz1 narrative AAR? Count me in!
 
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Fb-fb:

Amazing to see you back at the game @coz1 ! Not only one AAR, but two! And this second one seems to be of the grand style we know you master so well! :D
Thank you so much, sir. I realized that it was going to be difficult to get to real narrative work in the Creek AAR, so this is where that can be fleshed out (I hope.)

An @coz1 narrative AAR? Count me in!
Great to hear!

Another narrative? I'll be reading!
Awesome to see you here as well!


To all - This one will definitely go more slowly that the Creek work (and some previous ones) but these first few scenes have been around now awhile so I want to get them out. Especially as it sets up what is to come when actual gameplay begins. Another scene follows. Thanks so much for reading and giving comment!
 
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Chapter 1: Looking Back

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Chapter 1: Looking Back

* * *

hURQqYg.jpg


Westminster 1440

It had been a gloriously sunny day and at the height of summer, a series of fairs and celebrations had been held for the people of London and a sumptuous feast for the nobles of the land. Many had been called to court but one man was most important in the council’s eyes and the young King Henry VI had instructed Richard of York to attend his presence after they dined. This was, of course, only the third year of King Henry’s reign in is own right as he had finally demanded to hold his own council and had already made his feelings known towards the various factions that had arisen between his uncles, Beaufort and Gloucester. But while he had taken somewhat to his kingly duties, the King could still be easily led.

His cousin, Richard of York was a man of many talents and often the council and the King found great use for them. Richard had become one of the prominent nobles of the land after finally receiving the due of his uncle’s inheritance, the Dukedom of York. But it was the death of his mother’s father – Edmund, Earl of March – that gave the council pause for with that, not only did the rich March inheritance also pass to Richard, but so too the powerful Mortimer claim being descended from Lionel of Antwerp, Edward III’s second son. In all ways, the twenty nine year old Richard was a man to watch and welcome but only so far.

The two knew each other well, having grown up together for much of Henry’s childhood as many children of peerage had done. Ten years his junior, Henry had often looked up to Richard as children and found him grand company when time and circumstances permitted. The same could not be said in reverse though not by any personal disdain the Duke might have felt for the King. Rather, it was the Duke’s position or lack thereof, and the lingering feelings over his father’s death and attainder that held him at arm’s length and though he was entirely reticent to show any disfavor or anger towards the King, he would try very hard not to show his disillusion with the King’s men and often he was unsuccessful in his attempts.

But on this day, he came to the King with great pleasure and a deep smile, dropping into a generous bow and holding until the young King asked him to stand. Richard’s flowing robes brushed the ground as he stood with a grand sweep of his arm in deference to the King and he stood silently and waited for Henry to speak.

“Dear cousin of York, how does the Lord find you this day?” Henry stood and walked near the Duke, showing his advance in height that he did not share in age.

“Most gracious King, it is kind of you to ask. It would be unworthy of me not to speak highly of the bountiful meal served and great favor with which the Lord God has blessed us all.” Richard pointed towards the window that was currently allowing a great light to enter the room, bathing the two men in warmth.

“Indeed, it has found us well met.” Henry smiled.

Richard remained silent as the King walked to the window and looked out, speaking as he did so, “It has come to this when we must ask again for your great services abroad. Do you object?”

“I do not, my King. Only ask and I shall serve with all of my abilities.” Richard bowed slightly as Henry turned to look at him.

“A wonderful day, indeed. Yes.” Henry smiled as he looked upon Richard. What the man lacked in height he made up for in stoutness and good health. “You have the makings of a great leader, dear cousin. And France shall be ever so grateful to have you, we imagine.”

“It is I that am grateful, Your Grace,” once more Richard showed reverence and bowed.

“A pity that your last tenure in Normandy was so short lived. We do hope we have found it in your heart to forgive us our lack of assistance in prior times. Rest assured you shall have a goodly sum to help your cause. 20,000 pounds per annum we are capable of offering. Does this suit your purposes, sir?”

“Indeed it does, Your Grace. But if I may question…”

“Please do.”

“Will not the Earl of Somerset be reticent to give up his post?”

As Richard asked the question, an aged voice was heard as the Cardinal Henry Beaufort entered the great room. “He should be pleased to have returned to the bosom of his most gracious liege, my Lord. Fear not that score.”

Richard turned to the Cardinal and offered a half-hearted welcome at first but it grew larger when the King showed some slight displeasure. “Then I must prepare,” Richard finally spoke directly to the King. “I should waste little time to serve Your Grace with all that I can offer.”

King Henry clapped his hands together slightly and walked to the Duke, placing his still slender arm over Richard’s shoulder, “You must keep us informed at every turn, of course, but we should be most pleased to see our offices filled with such bright men as yourself. Cousin…you do us a great service and we shall not forget this kindness.”

“It is not kindness, my King, but my duty to the realm and your great person.”

“Splendid,” Henry smiled and walked away from the Duke, seating himself once more and bowing his head almost as if to pray.

“That will be all, my Lord. Please do send word when you have crossed the channel,” the Cardinal waived the Duke away and with deep bows, Richard backed from the room.

Once he was gone, the Cardinal moved towards the King, “Does Your Grace wish to rest?”

“Indeed, good Cardinal,” Henry answered looking up and then out of the window once more. “We are afraid the food and sun combine to bring a great heaviness upon our person.”

“Very good, Your Grace. I shall call for you shortly and then perhaps a walk around the gardens. ‘Tis a fine day.”

“That it is, good uncle. That it is.” Henry slowly walked from the room seemingly in good spirits and off in thought about one thing or another.

After he left, another voice was heard entering from a door behind the throne, “The Duke shall bark, I am afraid.”

“Nonsense, William. He may grumble but he’ll not bite. Not now. It would serve him little purpose.”

The Earl of Suffolk walked to the window and looked out as he spoke, “He has much to bark about, to be sure.”

“It is precisely so that he shall be put to use in Normandy and thus far away. I dare say his bite, if he has such, shall be far less painful.” The Cardinal countered.

“I must trust you on this, my Lord Cardinal. But even he understands your brother’s sure disappointment. And I cannot say that we shall have the promised funds, especially after settling accounts with Somerset.”

Cardinal Beaufort flashed a broad smile, “Leave my nephew to me, William. And worry not over the Duke of York. As I say, if he desires a seat amongst us, he shall have to play the game and earn our trust. And if he abandons his post again, we shall have all the grounds to permanently bar his entrance.”

“You seem to have it finely planned, my dear Cardinal Beaufort,” William de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk turned and smiled. “You continue to teach me well.”

“As long as I have breath in my body, my son, I shall always do so.”
 
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The English court looks like schemes are festering within it...

York is clearly a threat to the throne... although not yet.
 
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I wonder if they might make a threat where none (yet) was.
 
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Fb-fb:

The English court looks like schemes are festering within it...

York is clearly a threat to the throne... although not yet.
As they have for some time now. York is not the threat he will become, but the Cardinal did not get to his position without considering everything at all times.

I wonder if they might make a threat where none (yet) was.
There is no doubt their treatment of Richard was a key part of his later actions. See the next scene.


To all - Another scene follows it gets us about halfway to where I was the first time. It's been fun to re-edit the pieces here and there and fix some glaring mistakes. One learns a lot in 14 years.

Thanks for reading and commenting all!
 
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dxpwKZu.jpg


Rouen, 1441

Richard of York sat at a small table surrounded by men of his affinity, some who were men of old Bedford’s time and some whom were York’s own. He was late in crossing the channel, some said due to his feelings that his previous chance at commanding in France had been less than exemplar and some surely realized that the Duke was still in some financial difficulty. But had they the nerve to ask, Richard would have quickly pointed out that he and his beautiful bride Cecily had lost their first male child just month’s prior. Young Henry was born in February of 1441 and lived only weeks.

Now Richard was immediately thrust into the military campaign, mostly headed by the great John, Lord Talbot. The two knew each other, having met in Richard’s previous tenure in France. And Talbot had done his utmost to extend his legacy of fearless fighter of the French such that his name alone could frighten his opponent and few wished to meet him directly in battle.

At present, Talbot was still away at Pontoise where the English forces had been a constant in keeping the French so-called King away from taking that stronghold with his expert siege artists, the Bureaus. York quickly traveled to greet his stalwart and once secure in the knowledge that the fortress was safe, returned home to Rouen to ensure his wife had settled in and to meet with his men to plan further excursions.

“My Lord Duke,” Sir William Oldhall, the Duke’s chamberlain spoke up, “It is great fortune that your arrival has made such an impression upon the peoples of Normandy.”

“Indeed,” Henry, Lord Bourchier chimed in, both men attempting to placate their Lord, “They look upon you as their very King.”

“Would that the men in Ile de France did much the same,” the Earl of Salisbury, Richard Neville reminded them.

Richard pushed a map away from him with frustration as he looked to the Earl, “So true, my brother…so very true.”

Oldhall was quick to cross and point to the map, “They run from Talbot as always, my Lord. Surely they will find even more fear in your person.”

“Do not be so quick to discount the French success of late, good sir. Look you to Harfleur…and Conflans…and Creil. They move unlike the French we know.” Richard stood and crossed to a table at the side of the room to pick up a goblet of wine and quaff it down quickly.

“True, my Lord, but Charles has had his setbacks of late…the Praguerie as they call it…his own magnates do not trust him.” Oldhall stood firm in his security.

“Yes, my Lord Duke…and it seems as though the release of the Duc d’Orleans has meant little. He has been nullified and Charles may well be alone,” Bourchier kept up the softening words.

“While I might find some comfort in that, my Lords, I do not in their tenacity at Pontoise. It is a nearly impregnable fortress, yes, but if they persist in their endeavors there, we shall be forced to retreat even further. And we’ve not the men to press the issue even if we have the brilliant leadership that you good men give us…”

“And surely Lord Talbot, milord…” Oldhall attempted to counsel.

“He does strike fear into their hearts, ‘tis true.” Richard crossed the room again and looked to Salisbury, “How many men would it take to strike upon Paris once more?”

“I could not give you a total, sir. They are not as likely to accept our entrance as they might have been in yesteryear. It would certainly take more than we have at present and I see none forthcoming from our good King.”

Oldhall stepped forward and nearly spit on the ground, “It is this that keeps us from pressing our issue, my Lords…the King will not give us the means to effect such an end.”

A fierce look from the Duke made the man blanche ever so slightly and he retraced his words, “I speak too much, my Lord…”

“Indeed you do, Sir William. But I’ll not hold it to you. We are in dire times and we must find some method to attack and bring these dogs down.” Richard looked back to his maps and was long in thought trying to find the right move when the words of another, a much prettier voice, interrupted them.

“We must have a war council…is that it, my Lords?”

Cecily Neville, wife to Duke Richard and a beauty unlike any other walked into the room and balanced between complete authority and sure respect, “While I would not wish to disturb such a high gathering, I must steal away with my husband for we have some great issues to discuss. Pray pardon. I’ll not keep him long.”

All of the men quickly bowed, some more deeply than others, and they made their way from the room. Her own brother, Richard Neville, stayed not a moment longer than to kiss her hand and wish her well before he too was away leaving Richard to talk with his wife.

“What could it be that causes this disruption, my greatest love?” Richard asked with just a hint of irritation but a great deal of kindness.

Cecily went to her husband and dipped slightly to offer him her own form of honor but was quickly up and into his face with a kiss, “Only that I wish to see you. Is that not enough? It has been weeks and only now have we a moment to ourselves.”

Taking his seat, Richard poured over his maps once more, not ignoring his wife but too engrossed in his planning, “It has not been so long.”

“My Lord!” Cecily stood to her full height and placed her hands upon her hips. Her cheeks flushed in anger and as Richard looked up to greet her displeasure he could easily recall why she was called ‘the Rose of Raby’ the beauty in her ever present.

“Oh dear…” was all he could think to respond, such was her instant fury. But as he looked into her dark brown eyes, he saw a woman he deeply loved and behind it, not only the anger she currently felt but so too the great sorrow still evident. He then softened himself and stood to hold her.

Cecily took him in with stiffness at first but was quick to melt in his arms as he kept up the embrace and he thought he heard just a slight whimper escape.

Richard attempted an apology, “My great love…you who have been by my side all these years…how can I be so uncaring as to ignore you in this time of great sadness?”

“You do not make light of my sadness, my Lord, especially as it is also your own. I only mean to be with you at this time while we have returned to Rouen and I thought that we might…” she looked into his face and smiled with the grace and beauty she was known for, “…perhaps attempt once more?”

Richard was nearly putty in her hands and glad of it, “If you have such an inkling then I shall have little choice but to do my husbandly duty, my love.”

“And I my womanly duty," she smiled even wider.

She took his hand and began to lead him from the hall into their private chamber. As they walked, she began to speak of more mundane things pointing out a few tapestries recently hung and other bare walls in need, “While I have your ear, good husband, I should mention that the household accounts have been too low while you have been away. I am sorely in need of a new dress or two.”

Richard started to pull away but Cecily pulled him closer and tightened her arm around his own, “We must keep up the proper appearances, do you not think? It would not be fitting for the lady of the country to be found poorer off than the peasants she rules.”

“I dare say, lady wife, that your own wardrobe is finer than any hundred peasants placed together…” Richard attempted to counsel.

“Good sir, do not jest with me. After all, I know of which I speak. It is only by our presence of wealth and power that will keep us in the same. Surely you understand.”

Cecily was both clever and correct and Richard could not argue even though he lacked funds to do her request justice. “I shall endeavor to assist, my love. But is it possible we might watch carefully the expenditures? It is quite a burden just now and the King…”

She turned to her husband and ran a dainty finger across his rugged chin, “Let us not speak of others just now, my love. Let us go forth and enjoy each other while we have the moment. Our history depends upon it and all else will come after.”

“You are too wise to be my wife,” Richard stopped and kissed her with great passion.

As they parted gently, she looked upon his face and gave over a quiet smile, “Perhaps, my Lord, but I am wise enough to know where it might lead.”

He laughed and was almost tempted to lift her into his arms but thought better of it given her still possible frailness. Instead, he kissed her quickly and responded, “Then lead on, my love.”

And so she did.
 
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Interesting. England still has some ways to fall in France before they finally cut their loses (or slim chance of some turaround of course). Back home, things seem alright so far, but Henry VI is a ticking time bomb of ill health, and there are many claiments to the throne on both sides of the family.
 
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Have dropped in for a look on a board I don’t usually look at too much (not an EU4 owner, yet anyway). But it’s a @coz1 project so ‘nuff said. Will start reading through shortly - I see you’re in that first blush of chapter-writing one gets at the beginning of a new AAR ;). Good for you!

PS: I’m listening to David Crowther’s History of England podcast at the moment and just happen to be up to the reign of Henry VI! Hows that for serendipitous timing!? :)
 
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Well, France is far from pacified.

And I can't imagine that Richard succeeding in doing so would be good for the throne.
 
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Excellent start, as always. I'm really happy to see not one but 2 new AARs from you @coz1.

The War of the Roses is a fascinating period (not well known in France, we had our problems at that time, and of course there are more taught). I'm really eager to see your portray of it.
 
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Fb-fb:
Interesting. England still has some ways to fall in France before they finally cut their loses (or slim chance of some turaround of course). Back home, things seem alright so far, but Henry VI is a ticking time bomb of ill health, and there are many claiments to the throne on both sides of the family.
No doubt. I'm still in early stages here before the gameplay actually gets going so just setting the scene, as it were. Things will likely go very differently once we hit 1447 or so.

Have dropped in for a look on a board I don’t usually look at too much (not an EU4 owner, yet anyway). But it’s a @coz1 project so ‘nuff said. Will start reading through shortly - I see you’re in that first blush of chapter-writing one gets at the beginning of a new AAR ;). Good for you!

PS: I’m listening to David Crowther’s History of England podcast at the moment and just happen to be up to the reign of Henry VI! Hows that for serendipitous timing!? :)
Excellent! Glad to have you on board. While I'm trying to temper my posting habits, I've already completed 3 more "new" scenes to go with what I already had 14 years ago. It's been fun getting back into these characters minds.

Well, France is far from pacified.

And I can't imagine that Richard succeeding in doing so would be good for the throne.
The King and/or his court faction are doing their best to make sure Richard doesn't find too much success. ;)

Excellent start, as always. I'm really happy to see not one but 2 new AARs from you @coz1.

The War of the Roses is a fascinating period (not well known in France, we had our problems at that time, and of course there are more taught). I'm really eager to see your portray of it.
I'm keeping very much with the historical record here at the start, but once the game begins things will likely veer far away from what actually happened. That said, in the first couple of years I did play I tried to role play rather than play to win. We'll see how it goes.


To all - Great to see some new and familiar faces jump on board! Thank you all. The next scene will follow and there is a letter in the middle that I wrote the bones of but was able to get my good friend @stnylan to punch it up. I thought then and do now that he really improves on the skeleton I presented him. So thanks buddy, and get back to us soon!
 
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3kkMcUz.jpg


Wimborne, Dorset, 1444

John Beaufort, newly named Duke of Somerset in the previous year, sat by a crackling fire in a room above The Pudding and Pye Tavern and Inn. His life had been one of meteoric rise and swift fall, as it had been with all the Beauforts. Yet his seemed the most shameful, at least to his mind. A veteran of countless battles with the French during the Hundred Years War and a prime mover of the Beaufort faction at court, this man who was once among the premier princes of the blood was now shamed, banished from court and ready for the beyond such was his great personal defeat.

The King offered him a second chance after his first commission in France. And it had proved the great favor Henry held for his cousins and uncles, even more so than the favor that might be held by the Beaufort rivals – Gloucester and York. But in such a short time he had wasted this and now, it seemed, his own life. The dishonor and humiliation he felt was more than he could bear and John Beaufort was seriously considering ending his life with the only dignity he had left – that it came by his own hand and not that of an enemy. Sinful, yes…but at least satisfaction of a kind.

Still, he was not sure. He sat by the fire that warmed an already hot room this early summer’s eve and pondered his life’s work…or the lack of such. How had it come to this? How had he let down his name and blood so quickly? Was it the temper? The secretive nature? The sure pride? He picked up a tankard of ale and drank it down to perhaps speed the contrition. It was all too much.

He picked up a piece of parchment on which he had written an accounting of sorts and began to read with a half-hearted sense of necessity,



To His Most Gracious Lord, Henry King of England and France, Lord of Ireland, the sixth of that name since the Conquest,
I cannot begin to explain the many divers ways I have brought shame on my house and dishonoured the service you entrusted to me. This tale shall see my name damned among men, but I hope through my honesty your Grace will continue to be able to hold my family in the good odour in which they have previously stood, as the sins which I will presently recount are entirely mine own.
From the moment of my release in France in those glorious days of 1438 I only desired to serve your gracious self, and thus bring honour to my family and to England. Thus, though I writhed with doubt when you appointed our cousin York I stayed my voice, as it was not my place to question the favour that you choose to bestow upon him. Even though I feared that he sought to use you with ill-counsel I kept my peace, and waited for your command. I set this all aside out of my love for you.
Presently you considered me fit to lead an army, and thinking perhaps to link up with York I landed at Cherbourg in the earnest hope to become a shield in betwixt he and our adversaries. I in no way wished to do anything that might prejudice in any wise the power my cousin of York hath between your great royal person and his own in the country of France, Normandy nor either England.
Yet, despite all my hopes, wicked men surrounded our cousin and spoke evil things in his ears, and so his mind was poisoned against me. Thus he would have nothing to do with me, and I was forced to march my army out alone. My commission, as your Grace well knows, was to fortify the regions of Guyenne and Gascony and hold them against your Grace's enemies. However, I had before me the great hope that I could strike a telling blow in your service, and force the French usurper to contend with two fine armies from England, mine own and cousin York's.
At first all went well as we went on chevauchée throughout the countryside, as our house and even Sir John Fastolf, friend to your father, has always suggested might be well used. But a hammer without anvil cannot strike true, and our foes escaped into Brittany, forcing me to follow. Fully recognisant that the Duke is numbered among our allies God in Heaven knows that I had no intention of sundering the good friendship between your august selves. Rather, I sought to protect his own lands from our common enemies. Thus entangled I was unable to continue further south as directed by my commission, and much to my great shame.
It is this disgrace which brings me home and I am sure it is the reason why I have been banished from your Presence. I humbly beseech that you forgive me, your humble servant, as the father forgave the wayward son, and invited him back into his house. If your Grace finds myself offensive I at least beg that you have mercy on my family, for they are innocent in all of this. If you require me to quit the kingdom I will go as you direct, or if you have some other penance I will gladly do it to expiate my shame. At the last all that I did was strive to serve Your Grace, to whom my heart is always pledged whatsoever you decide regarding my present fate.
In all honor and with your love and favor still my wish,
John, Duke of Somerset and Earl of Kendal, son of Earl Somerset, Beaufort child of John of Gaunt.

It was all so much rubbish and too much to tell. John Beaufort, the first named Duke of Somerset, picked up the parchment and lifted his body as best he could from his seat to shift towards the fire and catch a corner with the flame. The written apology, that he had penned with his own hand such was his extreme secrecy, began to flare and he held it such that it soon became engulfed. As it burned away he felt his life following along and yet still the knife beckoned. He turned to see it smiling with a shine towards him. He thought on it and realized he was still not ready.

A knock at the door to his room pulled him from his torpor and he was secretly thankful for such a thing. He hollered with what little strength he had, his guilt and the drink having taken from him much, “Yes!”

The door opened with slowness and a face appeared with a look of curiosity and no little amount of worry. Edmund Beaufort, Earl of Dorset and younger brother to John entered the room and found his family member in his cups. He slowly made his way past the clothes dropped haphazardly on the floor and other bits of furniture overturned. He saw the look on John’s face and with a sadness found a way to ask, “What is all this?”

John Beaufort raised his head and looked upon Edmund with sad eyes and a long face, “What is it? None but my failure!”

Edmund went to him and tried to help him from the chair where he had once more found solace. “Rise and lets us walk to the bed, John. There are other days to look upon the past and find what has gone to failure.”

John pulled away from him with some strength that was surprising to the both of them and stumbled across the room only to fall against the wall. As he slumped to the floor, he looked up and spied a distressed and surely disappointed face, “I have failed, yes! I have dishonored my house and myself! And what is more, my career is over! My life, such as it was my brother, is done!”

“Speak not on such…not now…again, let us see what light the morn has to show us…”

“No! I’ll not see another day if this is what is has become.” John lifted himself from the floor and dragged a leg towards the table once more to take in another tankard of ale.

Edmund took a step towards his brother but John pushed him away, “Do not attempt to stop me, brother. It is finished.”

Edmund then stepped back and sat upon the bed, at first placing his head in his hands and then looking back to his kin, “Can you…would you tell me what has brought this on?”

“You know very well, Edmund! Do not make me feel the shame twice over,” John spit back.

“I do not wish to extend your dishonor, but I know not of the truth. Tell me and perhaps we may find a way to bring you back to court…or at least not sully further your good name.”

“There is no way, and you know I’d not tell. I cannot.” John slumped again in his chair as he reached for the tankard but gave up as his hand wavered in the air.

“Brother, I know that you would rather set fire to your own shirt than to have it known of your innermost thoughts, but now is not the time for such secrecy. You must tell me!”

“I’ll not and it is best that you leave me now.” He looked to Edmund and with a great sadness in his eyes followed, “But…I am sorry.”

“What is this apology?” Edmund stood and walked halfway to John.

“Edmund…” John finally found the fortitude to grasp at his ale, “We have always been second best…bastards! It is only by our efforts that we shall ever make something of our name…only by serving the crown with as much as we have to offer…”

“And we have always done so.” Edmund quickly reminded his brother.

“But not I.” John took a long swig and slammed the cup down. “I have shamed us and mine own name irrevocably. And this is the end.”

The younger brother stayed still and said not a word. He took a quick look to the door and then back to his sibling as John continued, “Even our uncle was forced to wait until good King Henry had died to gain his Cardinal’s hat. We shall always be forced to work twice as much for our due and I have set us back…I have ruined our good name, such as it ever was.”

Edmund shifted on his feet and began to walk ever so slowly towards the door, “Once more, John…let us not dwell on such tonight. You know I understand. But little good does it do to speak on it right this moment.” Edmund was nearly to the door and turned to leave the room as he held a hand in the air, “Allow me to prepare some small tincture that might assist in your sleep. It would do you good.”

“I’ve plenty to help in my long slumber, brother…”

“Speak not on such a thing!” Edmund turned back and answered his brother. “Be still and wait just one moment…”

As his brother walked from the room, John attempted another half-hearted reach for his ale but gave up yet again. He slumped his body back into the chair and nearly fell out such was his inebriation. What took minutes seemed like seconds to him and Edmund was back with a tall cup of steaming drink.

“Here, let me help you stand,” Edmund said as he placed the cup down and wrapped his arm around his brother.

They stumbled together towards the bed, John allowing him to lead, and Edmund attempting some small words of compassion, “Lay still and wait for me.”

Edmund helped him into the bed and then found the foaming cup once more. Taking it to his brother, he stopped just short of the bed and watched the sad figure as it lay prone, nearly asleep already.

“Here,” he stated as he knelt down and helped lift John’s head, “Drink of this and dream the glorious dreams that long sleep gives us. You shall feel better for it in the morn.”

As John drank from the cup, spilling some but not much, he found a pleasant face all of the sudden.

“You are a good brother,” He suddenly whispered as he laid his head upon the slight pillow.

With a grimace and perhaps a small tear, Edmund attempted an answer, “Less than I should be…”

Barely audible, John continued, "You will look after little Margaret..."

His eyes closed and with a slight smile upon his face for the first time that night, John repeated, “…A good brother…yes…”

And he was out. Edmund stood and looked at him for a time, a full tear just slight on his face but he steeled himself and wiped it away quickly. He made haste to take the empty cup with him and exited the room making sure to close the door behind him.

As he moved into the hall, he heard another voice from the darkness of the hallway, “It is done?”

Without turning, Edmund Beaufort stopped short in his steps and replied, “Quite. And I shall hate you for it forever.”

The voice had but one answer for him, “For now, my Lord…Duke.”

Edmund turned to face the apparition but it was gone in the shadows once more. He threw the cup towards where the voice had come from but the only reply he received was the sound of breaking pottery.

“Damnable man!”

But Edmund Beaufort knew what it all meant. He knew it before he had entered the room. And now his star was sure to rise. His sin would too, but that could wait until his own death. Edmund crossed himself quickly and descended the stairs of the tavern and out into the night doing his best to hold back the tears. It would take years, but eventually he would get over the death of his brother. He must if he was to make of his name what it deserved. But even he could not shake the feeling…Damn that Suffolk!
 
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Nikolai

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To all - Great to see some new and familiar faces jump on board! Thank you all. The next scene will follow and there is a letter in the middle that I wrote the bones of but was able to get my good friend @stnylan to punch it up. I thought then and do now that he really improves on the skeleton I presented him. So thanks buddy, and get back to us soon!
...and here you started the thread claiming you'd not update as fast as your Wessex tale. ;) :D But I'm not complaining!
 
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coz1

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...and here you started the thread claiming you'd not update as fast as your Wessex tale. ;) :D But I'm not complaining!
Wessex was, for a time, an every day thing. I'm allowing at least 2 days here. ;)

But mostly it is to get out the opening already written so I can get to the real game and new writing. That said...point made. :p
 
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HistoryDude

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Somerset seems like a complicated character.

He seems to have been given a fate he doesn't want...
 
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