To celebrate Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee Discovering Diamonds is hosting a series of excerpts or articles written by our wonderful review team. For our author reviewers: the theme is an excerpt from one of their novels portraying royalty - or an equivalent leader-type character. For our non-writer reviewers: a favourite monarch and/or novel about Royalty... In other words, an enjoyable mix of entertainment to acknowledge Queen Elizabeth II's longest reign in British history! 70 years!
God Bless you Ma'am.
(say ma'am to rhyme with 'jam' not 'farm')
About Traitor’s Knot
England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace . . .
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government after the execution of King Charles I, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with an outlaw.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Excerpt: The Coronation of King Charles II at Scone by Cryssa Bazos
Richard Fanshawe met James at the entrance to the Scone Palace.
“This way,” he said, guiding him to the King’s chambers. A bewildering crosscurrent of people darted through the halls as Richard navigated the twists and turns and multiple staircases. Charles’s chamber doors were flung open, and a small army of servants and nobles were gathered inside.
High-ranking nobles circled closest to his orbit while a few unassuming people were shunted to the far corners. Charles was resplendent in richest crimson velvet with his black hair flowing over his shoulders. Every time he moved, the cloth’s sheen rippled between red and burgundy. James was struck by how much had changed. He smiled to himself, remembering the rough apprentice clothes Charles had donned to slip out of Bristol unnoticed five years ago.
When they got closer, Charles looked up and noticed James. A smile spread across his face, and he called out to him, unmindful of the shocked glares from his nobles, “Captain Hart, well met.”
Your Majesty.” James stopped before him and bowed. “May your reign be long and fruitful.”
Charles touched him on the shoulder. “I am thankful you’ve come.” James did not think he meant the coronation. He lowered his voice and added, “If I only had more with your resourcefulness and loyalty.”
Before James could reply, one of his grooms brought the heavy ermine cloak and, stepping between them, proceeded to drape it across the King’s shoulders. Another groom slipped in and fastened the royal Garter around Charles’s neck
Richard drew James away and navigated him to one of the far corners. James felt more at ease here, where plain linens replaced the showy velvets. The chirurgeon Wiseman stood beside a neat pair of women in crisp, white aprons.
“Captain Hart.” The doctor nodded. “You’ve recovered well enough.”
James touched his side. It still twinged when he tried to practise with a sword. “Aye, thanks to your skill.”
A nobleman in deep blue satin edged with lace sidled up to Richard. Artfully curled blond hair framed a pampered face. “Fanshawe.” He spoke to the secretary, though his eyes were latched on James. “We should have been in procession by now. These Scots can’t keep a proper schedule.”
"My lord Buckingham,” Richard bowed. “May I present Captain James Hart of Warwickshire.”
“My lord,” James bowed. The Duke of Buckingham was one of the few English companions the Scots allowed Charles.
“Hart? I'm unfamiliar with that name. Where in Warwickshire?”
“Coventry, my lord,” James said flatly. “The Harts have owned a modest freehold since old Queen Bess.
The duke’s attention slid off James, and he turned once more to Richard. “Shame the ceremony couldn’t have been held at Holyrood, like his sainted father's coronation.”
“His Majesty is beckoning you, my lord,” Richard said.
“Naturally.” Without another word, Buckingham swept off to join Charles.
James shook his head. Like a cloying scent, the duke left a bad taste in his mouth. He better understood why the Scots allowed Charles this affectation. He could only show them in a better light. Still, the duke’s thoughtless words bothered him. “We should not wish the King to emulate his father,” he leaned in to murmur to Richard. “Let the coronation pave a new path.”
Richard nodded. “To God’s ears.”
The King’s nobles assumed their position, with a senior official on either side of Charles and four attendants holding his ermine train. The rest of the nobles aligned themselves behind Charles, leaving his household staff to follow at a discreet distance. James fell in beside Richard.
The procession headed down the long hallway towards the presence chamber, a grand room with a high, plastered ceiling. In the centre stood an ornate chair and over it a red canopy held in place by six attendants.
Charles took his seat and one by one received the Members of Parliament and leaders of the Council, who were all dressed in scarlet. After the last official paid his respects, a signal was made for the party to withdraw to the church. The highest-ranking nobles took up the royal regalia and in single file led the procession out of the palace. The six attendants holding the canopy arranged themselves around Charles so that as he walked, he was constantly covered by a crimson sky. As James watched, a cold shiver ran down his spine.
The procession headed across the grounds, along a sloping hill towards the stone church.
"They call this hillock Moot Hill,” Richard said to James.
“What?” James asked, startled.
“Moot Hill,” Richard repeated. “Ancient meeting place.”
James smiled to himself at the coincidence—or irony, he couldn’t decide which
They passed through a lych-gate to enter the church. As there were so many people who had to pass through, James and Richard waited nearly twenty minutes to enter. James looked around at the large rectangular hall filled with clerics, nobles and officials. At the centre stood a platform with a throne chair and a pulpit off to one side. Charles had not yet ascended the throne and instead sat directly opposite the pulpit in a massive wooden chair. All the regalia were laid before the pulpit upon a table clothed in green velvet.
“This way,” Richard said, leading him to a position in the western end of the church where the other members of the prince’s household stood.
The energy was palpable in the church, and people did not bother to lower their voices. Friends greeted each other with rounds of self-congratulation, as though each one had a hand in this day.
The minister stepped up to the pulpit to start the coronation and began with a sermon. James braced himself for an invocation of hellfire and brimstone. Instead, the minister spoke with the soothing tones of a favoured grandfather, moderating his warnings and admonitions to fit the occasion.
When it was time, four noblemen went to each corner of the platform, announcing to the people at each quadrant, “Sirs, I do present unto you the King—Charles, the rightful and undoubted heir of the crown and dignity of the realm.”
Charles ascended the platform and knelt before the minister. He held up his hand and swore the King’s oath. When he reached the part, “I shall command and procure that justice and equity be kept to all creatures without exception,” James drew himself to his full height. Justice. This was what this was about.
The officials helped Charles to his feet and, before the congregation, clothed him in royal robes of purple velvet, girded the royal sword around his waist and placed golden spurs on his feet. Lastly, a nobleman, the Marquess of Argyll, held aloft the crown of Scotland and placed it upon Charles’s head.
The crowd shouted, “God save the King, Charles the Second.”
Over and over, the crowd continued to chant, moving James by the strength of their fervour. At the age of twenty, Charles had done what his father could not—rally all the Scots to his cause; these fractious, passionate, fervent Scots. The price had been his oath to their covenant, and only the future would tell the true cost of that oath, but for the first time in over five years, James was filled with genuine hope. First Scotland, next England. He smiled openly.
“God save the King,” voices thundered around him.
James lifted his own voice and said, “God save the King!”
Facebook Twitter @CryssaBazos
Sign up for Cryssa's newsletter: