25 March 1194
The chronicler Roger de Hoveden tells us “that those who were in the [Nottingham] castle…were astonished, and were confounded and alarmed, and trembling came upon them; but still they could not believe that the king had come, and supposed that the whole of this was done by the chiefs of the army for the purpose of deceiving them.”
Read about King Richard I’s return to England after the Third Crusade and his ordeal as a captive of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, King Philip of France, and his own brother, in this post I wrote for English Historical Fiction Authors.
EXCERPT from For King and Country
Young Allan has overheard the castle constables, De Wendeval and Murdac – both supporters of the king’s brother Prince John – discuss King Richard’s whereabouts, just before he is spotted from the battlements of Nottingham Castle:
De Wendeval eyed Murdac warily. “They say he is in England.”
“What else might you expect them to say? If Richard was released on the fourth day of February, where is he? The news that he visited Canterbury? I tell you it is the justiciars’ lies, nothing more.”
Allan blew on his hands to warm them as he set off across the bailey, scattering goats and chickens in his path. There looked to be as many animals in the yard as there were men on the battlements. He’d not seen Robin in days and was determined to find him. The constables were right about one thing. If the king had been in England nearly two months, where was he?
“You! FitzHenry,” a snide voice called.
Edric Weston. He’d been in Nottingham since the king’s men seized his manor and the Greek fire.
Allan turned, tipped his head. “My lord Weston.” “You’ve come from the hall. What news is there?” He combed his long unkempt hair back.
“None that is mine to speak, my lord.”
Weston slid his arm across Allan’s shoulder. The man reeked of sweat, his clothes as disheveled as his hair. He might have been sleeping in them for days. Clearing his throat, he gave Allan a sly grin. “There could be a piece of silver in it for you.”
Allan slid from beneath Weston’s arm. “I shall remember that should I learn something of interest to you.”
“Do you see your uncle often?”
“Uncle John—” Allan’s response was interrupted by the blare of distant trumpets. He glanced at the men on the wall walk. Shouts, men pointing east—something was happening. A bell in the middle bailey began to peal.
“Excuse me, my lord.” Allan rushed toward the stairs. Behind him, he heard Weston shouting.
A sergeant darted past Allan. “God help us!”
“Is it the king?” another man asked.
“It cannot be. He is dead,” said another, repeating the words spewed by the constables.
On the battlements Allan peered towards the town. King Richard’s red and gold banners fluttered in the breeze. Allan’s pulse began to race. Knights—dozens of them with golden lions emblazoned on their surcoats rode astride magnificent stallions. Huntingdon, Chester, Marshal—he recognized their colors. And Richard led them all from the vanguard. Sunlight glinted off mail and polished shields. Threescore drummers followed the knights. Men-at-arms marched behind them with pikes resting on their shoulders, and axes, clubs, and swords in their belts. Allan swore the rhythmic tromp of their boots vibrated through the stone of the castle. Thousands of men. Fewer wagons, knights, and men-at-arms than he’d seen from Acre’s walls when the army marched south, but still, it was a sight and his heartbeat swelled to the beat of the drums.
For King and Country (Battle Scars II)
Civil war threatens as battle-scarred knight Henry de Grey returns from the Crusades. King Richard languishes in captivity, a prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor. Traitors to the crown pit Henry and his friends against dangerous and unknown enemies.
Loyalties will be tested, families torn apart. Friend or foe? It is hard to tell one from the other.
The king’s brother John and his allies plot to usurp Richard’s throne. With the knights Sir Stephan and Sir Robin, Henry fights for king and country. But he must keep his feelings for Sir Stephan l’Aigle secret. Sure as arrow or sword, their forbidden love could destroy him.
War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…
AWARDS & ACCOLADES for FOR KING AND COUNTRY
Finalist – Chaucer Award for pre-1750 Historical Fiction| Editor’s Choice – the Historical Novel Society (HNS) | Honorable Mention – Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards | A 2016 indieB.R.A.G. Medallion honoree | Chill With A Book Award | Black Lilac Kitty Book of the Year | Readers Favorite 5 star reviews