The Usurper King (The Plantagenet Legacy Book 3): The Coffee Pot Blog Tour

The Usurper King

(The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3)

By Mercedes Rochelle

From Outlaw to Usurper, Henry Bolingbroke fought one rebellion after another.

First, he led his own uprising. Gathering support the day he returned from exile, Henry marched across the country and vanquished the forsaken Richard II. Little did he realize that his problems were only just beginning. How does a usurper prove his legitimacy? What to do with the deposed king? Only three months after he took the crown, Henry IV had to face a rebellion led by Richard’s disgruntled favorites. Worse yet, he was harassed by rumors of Richard’s return to claim the throne. His own supporters were turning against him. How to control the overweening Percies, who were already demanding more than he could give? What to do with the rebellious Welsh? After only three years, the horrific Battle of Shrewsbury nearly cost him the throne—and his life. It didn’t take long for Henry to discover that that having the kingship was much less rewarding than striving for it.


EXCERPT: Trouble is brewing between King Henry and the Percies over the Scottish prisoners

A troubled silence fell between father and son. But Hotspur wasn’t finished. “You know Douglas surrendered to me personally, and by the laws of chivalry only I can ransom him. I refuse to betray his trust. Besides, the poor man hasn’t recovered from his wounds. It would be agony for him to travel in his state.”

“I’ll grant you that,” sighed Percy, sitting across from him. “Perhaps once I turn Murdoch over, that would appease the king.”

“It’s going to have to. I will not go.”

This time, Hotspur refused to give in and Percy went to London with a large number of hostages. He presented himself at Westminster Hall for the 1402 Parliament, bringing his most prominent prisoners: Murdoch, Earl of Fife and son of the Scottish governor, Lord Montgomery, Sir William Graham, Sir Adam Forster, and three French knights. Announcing himself with a fanfare, Percy presented the hostages who knelt just inside the door, then again in the middle of the hall, and a third time in front of the enthroned Henry. They remained kneeling while the king stood, sweeping his eyes across their heads and settling on Percy. He was not smiling. Henry restrained himself, making assurances they had nothing to fear. They were taken fighting like brave soldiers and he would respect the laws of chivalry. Then he invited them to join him at dinner in the Painted Chamber.

It wasn’t until later that the king confronted Percy in front of a much smaller batch of witnesses. Summoning the earl to his council chamber, Henry clearly blamed the father for the disobedience of the son. Dispensing with any formalities, the king went right to the point.

“Why is Harry not here? Where is Archibald Douglas?”

Of course, Percy was expecting a confrontation but his own frustration simmered close to the surface. He didn’t know whether he was angrier at the king or his son. At the moment, it didn’t matter.

“Sire, you can see they did not come.”

“Yes, I can see. I want to know why.”

“You’ll have to ask my son. He will answer for himself.”

“I’m asking you! Douglas has been the instigator of all our border troubles. I want him under lock and key.” Henry caught himself clenching his fists.

“He is, I assure you. Harry takes personal responsibility for him.”

“I demanded that he bring Douglas to London. He has no license to flout my commands.”

Percy was nearing the end of his patience. “Sire, you forget. We are committed to our guardianship, but we have emptied our coffers in your service. The ransom money will help relieve our debt.”

“I have paid you £60,000. What more do you want?”

That was too much. Stomping his foot on the ground, Percy let slip his restraint. “That is not true and you know it,” he shouted. “You still owe us £20,000 in cash and bad tallies. And you wonder why Harry is upset.”

It was Henry’s turn to snap. “Haven’t you been paying attention? Look what I’ve had to deal with!” He threw up his hands. “Two rebellions, back and forth from Scotland to Wales, piracy interfering with trade, expenses of the Calais garrison, the defense of Guyenne, protecting the southern coast against the French. My God, no wonder there is no money in the exchequer. I have paid you as much as I can and there is no more!”

Clearly, Percy was not concerned about Henry’s problems. His voice lowered to a growl. “When you entered the kingdom you promised to rule according to your council. By now you have received large sums from the country, and yet you say you have nothing. God grant you better counsel!”

Henry was momentarily taken aback. He couldn’t admit it, but all his life he had let someone else worry about finances. Money was always there to draw on when he needed it. The day he took the crown he was the wealthiest man in England. How did it disappear so quickly? He knew a large percentage of his expenses went to annuities—and these annuities had been granted without consulting his council. He had to; how else was he going to hold on to his supporters? At the same time, he needed to continue paying annuities to Richard’s retainers and for the same reason.

He was about to say something when Percy bowed and backed from the room. Neither of them trusted himself to pursue an argument that would just end up with more bitterness, and Henry let him go. Besides, his real quarrel was with Hotspur.

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Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.


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