Andorran Court 1529
The skirts of various colors and cloths twirled with precision as the ancient Euro-Asian dance called for. The musicians worked their instruments with hearts filled with joy. The court of the small yet vital country was alive with cheer. For the first time in ten months the young king, Maxwell Beckham, had called for a grand dinner in the great hall with gold furnishings and decorations. The period of mourning had passed. The man in his prime once again acted as such. Even with the joyous air, every person remembered the reason such a great time of mourning had been forced upon them. The queen was gone, Susan of Cleaves, a fair skinned beauty with hair nearly as pale as snow. She was a delicate flower with a voice soft as a baby’s mew and eyes that mirrored the sea. Her thin pink lips were always drawn into a smile. She was young when she was sent from her German principality to marry the boy King – both the mere age of ten. It was five years later when their marriage was consummated. Within that first year they had a prince, Edvard. Within four years they were childless once more, but King Maxwell never stopped loving Susan. He cherished her and comforted her after each failed childbearing. Until the winter of 1525 when he turned his eyes to Mistress Jane Carlton – daughter of a knight. Mistress Jane was everything the queen was not. She was a mere sixteen years, three years his junior, with hair dark as honey and shining like the sun. Her eyes were golden and her lips always a tempting pink. The king made her his mistress and for three years he courted her. Eventually she bore his child. The queen bore his child once more as well. The country was alive with expectation. All anxiously waited to see which child would be born first. It was the queen who went to the labor chamber a month before Easter. She was shut away for many days before her nurse announced that she was delivering. Within an hour the court cheered for the birth of their living Prince. Celebrations were held all week until it became known that the queen was not recovering. She never left the labor chamber passing away in her sleep. The prince fell ill the night of her death and soon he joined his mother.
Then it was Jane’s turn to deliver. She suffered a worse fate. The frightened girl was forced to endure the physician slicing into her belly and pulling her still daughter from her womb. Every person in the chamber focused so heavily on not allowing another of the king’s children to pass that they allowed Jane to bleed away. The king secluded himself having lost both his loves and his heirs.
That time of seclusion was no more. Now the young King Maxwell, still full of life with twenty-four years, sat on his hand crafted Italian throne with a wide grin and bright eyes despite them being dark as the night sky. His short muddy curls hung with happiness. His prominent cheeks cratered from his large smile. He was no longer the boy who lost it all. He was now the man who had some much to gain.
“He seems almost himself.” The aging Duke of Leighton spoke to the cardinal. “Actually, he seems better than himself.” Both men were dressed to show their position. The duke wore hose that were black and a shiny grey color in tilted thick lines, a dark grey jerkin and doublet with small white beads sewn into it, a jerkin, sleeves of the same design as his hose, and a black over gown. Dark jewels in silver hung on his shoulders and his large and aged hands were adorned in many rings. The cardinal was dressed in the standard red robe and cap of the clergy, but he wore many jewels as well.
“Yes, I dare say Max is happy once more.” Cardinal Clifton agreed with a subtle nod of his grey head. “Perhaps he will entertain proposals for a wife soon. He is still young and capable of producing heirs. There is a princess in Italy, she just gained her twelfth year, who would make a beautiful wife for our king.”
“I am not sure His Majesty ever plans to marry again. He endured great sorrow a single year before sire.” The duke, Charles Remington, disagreed.
Cardinal Clifton frowned as his bushy eyebrows merged together on his wide forehead. His frail and unpleasantly cold hands clasped over his protruded belly. “Hm, perhaps you are correct. Max needs to be reminded of what it is like to share his bed with a woman.”
The duke agreed wholeheartedly. “Yes, we should gradually move him towards a new marriage. He needs an heir or else this fragile kingdom will fall to ruins from a civil war and the English will swoop in to claim the land once more.”
“Our forefathers shed their blood and were victorious in taking our independence from the English tyranny. We would shame them if we were to fall into their rule once more.” Cardinal Clifton fused. “However, as a man of the clergy, I can only stress the importance of having His Majesty take another wife. God will allow it since he so tragically lost his first.”
Charles placed a steadying hand on the holy man’s shoulder. “Do not worry yourself about the king and any new vows he shall make. I will take care of it. In a year’s time, there will be a new Queen of Andorra.” He vowed in a sure voice. The cardinal nodded his consent.
“I have no doubt that you will succeed, but, how will you?”
“I have my ways.” The duke spoke vaguely as his light eyes drifted across the hall where his young and pure daughter danced with his son. She was a beauty taking after her mother with fair skin, petite structure, blunt features, and hair as bright as fire. She could draw a man in with her innocent pearl eyes and hold him with her talon like fingers. She was the light of Charles’s world since his wife passed. He promised his late wife that he would secure a great future for their Chelsea. There was no greater future than being queen.