After these incidents, Richard was reassured of loyalties to him, even if it was from sheer fear. The only loyalty he knew he would never have, nor ever trust if it was offered, was that of Elizabeth Woodville. He knew that the only thing that would keep her in line was the fate of her sons and her daughters.
Richard devoted the next few weeks to establishing his firmer control of the situation. At a parliament meeting some days after the arrests, he presented his witnesses and evidence needed to secure himself the crown. The Bishop came forward attesting to the fact that he had witnessed King Edward’s early betrothal to Eleanor Butler, which was a binding contract. At this time Parliament enacted the Titulus Regius, an official declaration that described why Parliament had found that the marriage of Edward IV of England to Elizabeth Woodville had been invalid, and consequently their children, including Edward, Richard, and Elizabeth were illigitimate and, therefore bebarred from ever holding the throne. Thus Richard III was proclaimed the rightful King.
During the weeks leading up to his coronation, Richard devoted his time to tying up what he considered loose ends and ensuring that nothing would arise to destroy his plans. One of his major concerns was Gerard DeJewel… he was waiting upon the man’s return and pondering what back up plan he should make in event the man did not return. He held the child, Eleanor in his custody and wondered just what importance she was.
Perhaps he should not be so hasty to return the child even if Gerard did return? If she was deemed so important to Margaret Stanley, there must be some reason that he was missing. He set John Howard to delving further in this mystery, if for no other reason than to be well prepared. There was no more he could do on this matter until he heard from Howard or Gerard, so he wasted no more time worrying about it. There were other more important matters to be concerned about, such as those two boys now residing in the tower. Brackenbury was instructed to present them outdoors at such times when the courtyards were full of people. They should on all accounts look happy, healthy and of royal appearance, even if it was only from a distance they were seen. Richard wanted no suspicions or questioning of his care of the boys.
Lord Thomas Stanley had taken Richard’s warning to heart. He removed his wife Margaret to a remote, isolated country estate and placed her under the supervision of well armed guards who would watch her every move and allow no correspondance to or from her other than that which he sent himself. On his hasty return to Richard, he was made Steward of the Royal household. Stanley took no chances on having his loyalty to Richard doubted again. For all outward appearances, Stanley was one of Richard’s most trusted and staunch supporters. One of the first duties that Richard assigned to him was to account for the items and monies that Elizabeth and her son Thomas had taken with them to sanctuary. He stated that as she was no longer Queen, she had no entitlement to any of the monies or valuables that she may have taken with her.
Richard went so far as to threaten to accuse her and her son of treason by way of theft from the Royal coffers and treasury if all of the valuables were not returned. His reason was twofold… of course she had absconded with most of the Royal treasury as well as items that would be worth a fortune and it should be returned. His other underlying reason was that by taking everyhing of value from her, he could more easily control her. She would have no resources with which to bribe anyone to do her bidding and she would see the true suffering of remaining in sanctuary.
Elizabeth’s sanctuary quarters were searched and anything deemed of Royal value or consequence was removed, including her royal jewels and most of the tapestries adorning the walls. Stanley was under orders to thoroughly search the living quarters that she had vacated as well and remove anything from there which would have value. Of course, she had managed to take most her valued items with her when she left but Stanley found it rather odd that one chest had been left in the room, untouched.
On opening the chest he discovered a wealth of much ancient treasures at the bottom of it, covered by an assortment of small items that seemed to have no value other than perhaps that of sentiment. The top layers of the chest contained such little things that a Mother might save as memories of her children… lockets with twists of fine baby hair, small worn smocks and ribbons, some well used toys and strings of beads. To anyone casually looking, there would have been no reason to waste further time searching through this chest.
Stanley, however, took his duty much seriously and left no part of the room unsearched. He was well rewarded in his efforts, for among the more ancient treasures, he also found wrapped in a length of fine linen, three highly polished sun medallions. Curiously, the linen they were wrapped in was covered in intricately embroidered symbols and words which he could not decipher. Something about this spoke of sorcery and witchcraft to his thoughts. It was very strange… the portion of linen protecting one sun was covered in much costly golden threads, the other portions were embellished with much paler silver threading. The way the suns were placed within this wrapping was suspicious too. The linen was folded over them in a way so that the two outer suns were covered in the silver, while the middle sun was protected by the gold threads.
Stanley was not the most religious or pious of men, and he generally tried to stay well clear of the accusations and the treatments of the witchcraft controversey. He had enough of his own problems to handle without entering into that bloody war of hyprocisy and heracy. This discovery though, caused his blood to chill. It was much suspected and rumored that Elizabeth Woodville was a witch and used her powers to her own advantages. The contents of this chest would be firm evidence and proof of those speculations.
Lord Stanley stood in the room for some moments silently giving serious thought to this situation. He was in somewhat of a quandry with his musings. His initial thought was why Elizabeth would have left this here to be found. Granted, she was most likely in a hurry with her preparations and may have overlooked it… but, he reasoned to himself… She was an intelligent woman of a calculating and cunning nature, also one who was generally well prepared for situations. It did not stand to reason that she would have just forgotten about this, that she would have just left it here knowing that it might eventually be found and fall into the wrong hands. No, there was something quite suspicious about this… could someone else have planted it there intending for it to be found and thereby cause her to look guilty? And, if so, who might have done it. Might she have truly misplaced it and now be searching for it desperately. If that was the case, what would it be worth to use it in gaining control of her.
As Stanley debated these questions, he stared at the symbols and writing so finely sewn into the linen and wondered what exactly their meanings were. He inspected them closer and still could not quite discern the writings. The symbols seemed to be old celtic ones of various spirals and knots along with what looked to be trees, branches and leaves. The written words had appearance of some old language as well, one that he had no knowledge of.
He spent some time staring at it, trying to commit the images and words to his memory, then rewrapped it all just as it had been and repacked the chest. A search through the room gained him naught much else of importance and he called in two of his most trusted squires to remove the chest to his home for now until he could decide just what to do.