Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer @colin_falconer

Posted on Friday, November 29, 2013

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The coronation banquet is held at Westminster Hall. The food arrives late and is cold, the grease settled. Her uncle Lancaster stands up with a mouthful of goose and shows the assembly that the meat is raw before hurling a haunch of seared and bleeding beef at an usher.

There is no shortage of wine and the several of the guests become bawdy. Her brother Charles approaches her with her uncles and indicates that it is time to leave. Edward has his arm around Gaveston, and their fingers are intertwined. They have no eyes for anyone else. Gaveston kisses his cheek.

“Have you not a care?” the Earl of Lincoln shouts at him and has to be restrained. The King hardly notices.

They retire to an antechamber. Valois has a servant fetch him wine.

“I was once on crusade in Outremer,” Evreux says. “I was lost in the desert among some brute Germans who could do no more than grunt at each other and because we starved we ate one of the camels raw. Even so, the company and the food was better than it was tonight.”

Valois props himself in a window seat and stares at the river, in a sulk.

She hears it described how the king allowed Gaveston to prepare both the coronation and the feast. They all count both a disaster. “Did you see the tapestry he prepared for the occasion?” Charles says to Valois. “It had Gaveston’s arms beside the king’s. It should have been my sister’s arms placed there. He has insulted our entire family!”

The door bursts open and Lancaster stamps in. “He couldn’t organize a fuck in a barrel full of whores.” Valois nods towards Isabella and Lancaster’s face turns pink. “Your grace,” he says and bows. “I did not see you.” But he is only off his stride for a moment. “Did you see what he wore?”

Isabella stares at the floor. She has never heard language as ripe as this. This has been altogether an interesting day. “I need to get out of this damned country.” Evreux mutters.

“Why is everyone so angry?” Isabel asks him.

“No one is allowed to wear purple but the king!” Lancaster shouts at her before remembering himself and lowering his voice. “Look at me! Is gold not good enough for him as well? And he dares hold the Confessor’s crown! Is he high born? Is he noble? The privilege should have been mine or Warwick’s!”

“We sympathize with your plight,” Charles says. “But let us desist. We are upsetting my sister.”

“He has insulted her as well.”

“I agree.”

“Are you not vexed?”

“Vexed? I am ready to do murder. But one wonders if that would be a wise course. This is not our realm.”

Lancaster stamps across the room and pounds a fist against the wainscoting. It causes it to dent and splinter. “Did you see them sitting there, staring at each other?”

“Will you all please explain to me what is happening?” Isabella says.

They all look at her. The child can speak. But how can she understand? There is a long and difficult silence. They all wait for one of the others to do the talking.

Finally Charles sits down beside her and picks up her hand. “We are shamed that he pays his favourite more attention that you”

“Who is this Gaveston, where he is from?”

“He is a Gascon, a squire in the former king’s household. They grew up together. They became close friends.”

“Close!” Lancaster snorted.

“I heard his mother was burned as a witch,” Valois said, still looking out of the window.

“There is no truth in that rumour,” Evreux says. “The plain facts about him are bad enough without making up falsehoods.”

“Why does he favour him above anyone else?” Isabella asks them.

More looks. Charles waits for Valois to help him but he joins Evreux by the window. Lancaster shrugs and turns away. “Do not fret, Isabella. This shall not stand. He shall give you the respect that is your due.”

“I shall go to my knees tonight and ask the Virgin for guidance in this,” Isabella says.

“Then you shall not be the only one on your knees when the candles are out,” Lancaster says and walks out, leaving behind an embarrassed silence.


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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG-13

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Website https://colinfalconer.wordpress.com/


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