King Edward may have loved Elizabeth well and wholeheartedly but he was not the most faithful of husbands and had many mistresses. One of those women, he was as equally devoted to as his wife…which naturally did not sit well with Elizabeth. His mistress, Elizabeth Shore was as devoted to him as he to her. She was in every way, much opposite of his wife in her temprement. Elizabeth Shore was an intelligent young woman with a charming and happy disposition who was by all accounts, content with her place in life. She received no large sums of money or gifts from the king, nor did she ask for them. She did have one secret that she somehow managed to keep well hidden.
Elizabeth had born the King a son some time after the birth of his younger son, Richard. She had great fear and concern for her son and did not want him in any way used as a pawn in life. Her other real fear was of Elizabeth and what retribution there might be upon her and her child. Because of this, she had enlisted the aid of so many others that she had helped in the past to secret her child away to the care of a relative who was a lowly servant in the household. In this way, she might keep a watchful eye over him from a distance but would not ever call notice to him. While it was not necessarily the life she would have chosen for him to live, at least he was alive and out of the reach or knowledge of anyone who might use him. She was of the thought that eventually, she would be able to safely remove him to the safety of a countryside home where he could live out his life in unknown happiness. Any monies that she had went towards this purpose of securing a place far off for him to grow up. Her fears were compounded by the fact that as he grew, he looked so much like Edward’s son Richard that he could have been a twin. She knew that she would have to quickly find him a safe residence elsewhere as underneath the grime of everyday life in the lower castle, it would soon become obvious that he was an offspring of Edward. Even Edward did not know of the child’s existance as she had feared that knowing of him, Edward would have insisted upon acknowledging him in some way. For her months of pregancy, it had been the only time she had decieved him in any way. She had feigned illness and family illness so as to be away for a length of time. Immediately after the boy’s birth she had handed him over to the relative and never once given herself away as anything other than a visitor to the laundress.
Elizabeth Shore had remained loyal and faithful to Edward until the end and even there afterwards. Queen Elizabeth was beyond livid and close to blind rage when in his final hours, Edward had requested a private goodbye with this woman. Guards had to forcefully remove her from the chamber as she tried to prevent the meeting from happening. She had stood outside the door in attempt to hear whatever those last words might be. When Elizabeth Shore exited the chamber, the Queen accosted her and threatened her, calling her the vilest of names and cursing her existance.
The younger woman maintained her dignity and calm throughout the ordeal, though there were tears in her eyes. She held her head up well and straight answering the Queen’s rant, “Your most Royal Highness, I have done nothing wrong but for to love the King and my heart is as much broken as yours.” With that she walked away, her head held high and her tears streaming down her face.
What was said between the two in private remained a secret between them and two other people… One of those was the High Bishop who was in the room with the King and his mistress. Edward told her to go immediately to Richard and put herself into his protection. Elizabeth did not trust the brother Richard though and knew him to not have any great fondness for her. When the Bishop offered to arrange her escort to him, she kindly refused and said she would deal with this in her own way. Instead of going to Richard as Edward had asked, she went to her good friend and previous lover, William Hastings who had been closest friend and confidante to both her and Edward. He was the one person who knew of her secret and had kept it for her these many years. He was also one of the few people that she trusted within this court. She knew that he would do what ever he could to ensure her safety, and more importantly, that of her son. Elizabeth knew full well that they were all in grave danger and their fates rested in Richard’s hands now.
Once Richard determined a course of action, he was not one to turn back from it, even if he experienced second thoughts or doubts. He was not a an evil or wicked man as many painted him after his rule, but he was one who held highly to his personal principles and was greatly critical of those he felt did not meet the standards he set for himself and everyone around him. He was a perfectionist and did not like to be questioned or proven wrong. Elizabeth Shore did not meet his standards and he had never condoned or approved of his brother’s infedilities with her or any of the numerous other women. He cared not whether she had a good heart, to him she was a common whore who had stepped far beyond her place. No, Richard would not go along with what ever the dying King was asking in regards to her, and she knew this. Richard was set upon his course that he was in the right, that he was the rightful successor and now he would go to almost any lengths to see it through.
Everyone close to Richard knew of his fierce need to be in control and be right, so when he decided that he should be King, they all knew that there would be no dissuading him… Each person on their own only prayed that they would not step on the wrong side of him. They also prayed that his all consuming thoughts of fairness and justice would over ride his drive for control and keep them alive through this time.
Each person went forth with their own personal plans and attempts to get themselves and their families safely through what could become a blood bath for any he thought opposed him or stood in his way.
As the Queen hid herself and her family away in sanctuary and made her own secret plans, others were doing much the same. Alliances were made between those who had previously been enemies, promises and vows were made as well as threats and no one person felt truly safe.
Even Richard did not feel safe or at any ease, probably most of all Richard… as he was doing two battles. One on the outside with those who would seek to oppose his rule or question his decisions, and a darker battle within himself with his conscience and his innate sense of justice- which served him so well as a law maker. His deeply engrained morals and ethics , his feeling of duty and family tore at his need to have a clear and unquestionable path to the throne. He knew that his nephews would ever be an ongoing threat. Their continued presence would give rise to rebellions later on. He could not, however bring himself to do harm to them… burned into his memory was the death of his brother, George. No, Richard must find some other way to take the boys out of the picture for the long time…for a length of time enough so that he had an upper hand and control of the throne without any lingering suspicions. Since he refused to consider the option of killing them, he must weigh any other options or scenarios that might work.
Richard’s first thought and decision on this matter was to have a firm discussion with young Edward and see where the boy’s truest feelings were on being the next King. Richard had received reports from the Royal physicians that the boy was not well, not strong enough physically or emotionally to endure the strain of such a role. Richard thought that perhaps the boy did not even truly want this that was being thrust upon him? If this was such, then possibly he could find a way to remove the boy in such a way as not to be a continued threat. If there were a way to ensure that both of the boys were removed to somewhere else and stripped of their identities… could such a thing be possible? Richard put much thought into this and had a private council look into any such feasabilities. Mean while, he was dealing with an even more difficult personal family situation. His wife Anne was very ill, though she insisted she was not. She was as determined as he was to see this all through and sit upon the throne. Anne said it was her right, her destiny and her son’s. Her Father had engrained, instilled it into her mind at an early age… he was after all the “King Maker” and though he may be dead, she would see his legacy fullfilled.
Richard knew that he needed to move quickly to ensure his seat on the throne. Along with handling his outright opposing forces and those he felt might be plotting against him, he needed to deal with the matter of the boys. Young Edward remained in the tower apartment for the duration with Sir Brackenbury as his formal guard. Brackenbury agreed with Richard on the matter of not killing the boy. Richard set it to him to find some other way to deal with this matter else it would come down to that and it would be on Brackenbury’s shoulders not his.
In searching for some way out of this mess, Brackenbury went so far as to turn to seers and those involved with what was deemed sorcery and witchcraft, though it went against his morals… but then, so did the killing of small children. So, in the course of his secret plotting and investigating of alternatives, he was put into contact with one Marie DeJewel, who presented herself as a traveling noble woman from an isolated area of France. She suggested that for a large sum she could be pursuaded to take the burdens off from him and remove them to a place where no one would ever find them? When he made inquiries about her, it seemed no one knew of her though she presented herself in a wealthy and noble manner. She insisted that she had no ulterior means other than the sum of monies involved and did not like to envision such a scene as one of two children going to their deaths. He brought all of his information to Richard, who requested to meet with Marie in person. The meeting was arranged, and it became quickly apparent to Brackenbury that the two were already previously acquainted in some fashion more than just friendship. So, Richard set into motion a plan to gain custody of both boys and turn them over to Marie.
During this time, Queen Elizabeth was made aware of the coming summons to give up her younger son, Richard. Someone with close association to the inner workings of Richard’s private council was keeping her advised. That person was none other than Elizabeth Shore. Elizabeth Shore had shown up at the Queen’s sanctuary one evening saying that she had most dire and grave information to impart. The Queen had initially refused her and said she wanted no part of what ever the whore was about. Elizabeth Shore stood her ground and insisted, “No matter what you may think of me, I have no cause against you and I have deep concern and care for the fate of your children.”
Queen Elizabeth grudgingly let her in and allowed her to share her words of warning. Elizabeth Shore had the ear, and the heart of William Hastings, who was currently in the good graces and confidence of Richard. Richard had mentioned his plan to gain custody of both boys and his intent to send them away with Marie. Elizabeth Shore inferred to the Queen that the boys would meet a bad end in this situation. She kept the information that the boys would be spared to herself. In this one instance, her concern for her own child far outweighed any for the Queen’s. She had her own desperate plan in mind now. She felt she was giving the Queen fair warning to put forward the plan that she knew the Queen had been devising… Elizabeth Shore knew of this plan because while William Hastings was ever her true friend, she was no longer romantically involved with him. Over the past few months, she had become involved with someone close to the Queen. Elizabeth Shore was now involved with the Queen’s older son, Thomas Grey. Thomas had entered into sanctuary with Elizabeth and her family but took many chances and leave of the sanctuary in order to have some idea of what was going on outside. Elizabeth Shore was ever the peacemaker and was able to bring to an end a long term grudge between William Hastings and the Woodvilles… at least, the one Woodville- Thomas Grey, who happened to be William’s step son. So, between William and Thomas, Elizabeth Shore knew much of what was taking place on all fronts.
William had devised a plan which would hopefully keep all of the boys safe and out of the threats. He suggested to Thomas that the young Richard could be removed to some safety and they could simply find some child that resembled him to take his place. After all, Richard had not been in contact with the boy for some time due to his residing for much of the recent times in the North… He put forth the reality that, should they not be able to save Edward, then at the very least they could do was to keep young Richard alive. Unfortunately, it was indeed a grim reality that Thomas had to agree to. His heart was heavy and he was filled with disgust for what this all had come down to. He would take the boy, Richard away to safety and would then join his uncle Edward Woodville in force with Henry Tudor against Richard.
Hastings had some guilt over having to decieve Thomas in this way but his heart was with Elizabeth Shore in keeping her child and the other two boys safe. This was the only way he could see for it work. He cared not so much for Elizabeth Woodville… and if she were decieved into thinking her son lost to her, so be it. The boy would be better off not to ever be within her or Richard’s grasp. He was becoming much disgusted with all of this state of affairs and with Richard as well… Possibly, it was a better and safer choice to throw in with the unknown likes of Henry Tudor. At this point, Hastings was of the thought that the young Tudor couldn’t be any worse than what they were enduring now.
Richard had his own plan… he wanted the boys gone but he also wanted no more problems from Elizabeth and she would not be so easy to deal with as the matter of the boys had suddenly become with the arrival of Marie DeJewel and her promise to aid him in permanently removing the boys without having their deaths on his conscience. No, he must come up with some other plan to keep her quiet and somehow appease her. Richard knew his sister in law well, and he knew that while she loved her family, she much more loved the thought of continued power in some way? He also knew of some her secrets… and would use them if need be.
He summoned her to a private meeting with the Bishop in attendance and offered her a trade of sort. He put to her point blank the grim, stark fact that no matter what the outcome, her boys were lost to her forever whether they lived or died, they would remain out of her control and her reach. He told her bluntly that she would turn over the younger boy willingly or forcibly…and in return, he would see her daughters installed at court in a Royal manner which was their right. He would take the girls and as their guardian, he would ensure the highest ranking and advantageous marriages for all of them. He would arrange for her to be settled in a country estate and not lacking for anything. She would remain under some official guardianship but be free of sanctuary and any future suspicions to her character. He advised her to give this serious consderation as he would not again make this offer, and she had five daughters yet alive to be concerned for… Should she not like to see them stay that way?