Read The Autumn Throne Online

Authors: Elizabeth Chadwick

The Autumn Throne

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Also by Elizabeth Chadwick

T
HE
W
ILD
H
UNT

T
HE
R
UNNING
V
IXEN

T
HE
L
EOPARD
U
NLEASHED

T
HE
F
IRST
K
NIGHT

D
AUGHTERS
O
F
T
HE
G
RAIL

S
HIELDS
O
F
P
RIDE

T
HE
C
ONQUEST

T
HE
C
HAMPION

T
HE
L
OVE
K
NOT

T
HE
M
ARSH
K
ING’S
D
AUGHTER

L
ORDS
O
F
T
HE
W
HITE
C
ASTLE

T
HE
W
INTER
M
ANTLE

T
HE
F
ALCONS
O
F
M
ONTABARD

S
HADOWS
A
ND
S
TRONGHOLDS

A P
LACE
B
EYOND
C
OURAGE

T
HE
G
REATEST
K
NIGHT

T
HE
S
CARLET
L
ION

T
HE
T
IME
O
F
S
INGING

T
O
D
EFY
A K
ING

L
ADY
O
F
T
HE
E
NGLISH

T
HE
S
UMMER
Q
UEEN

T
HE
W
INTER
C
ROWN

Copyright

Published by Sphere

ISBN: 978-0-74813-393-2

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Chadwick

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

Sphere

Little, Brown Book Group

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

www.littlebrown.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

Contents

Also by Elizabeth Chadwick

Copyright

Maps

Note for Readers

1 Palace of Sarum, Wiltshire, April 1176

2 Winchester Castle, April 1176

3 Winchester Castle, Easter Court, April 1176

4 Winchester Castle, Easter Court, April 1176

5 Winchester Castle, Easter Court, April 1176

6 Winchester Castle, Easter Court, April 1176

7 Palace of Sarum, August 1176

8 Winchester Castle, September 1176

9 Palace of Sarum, July 1177

10 Palace of Sarum, Winter 1178

11 Winchester Castle, April 1179

12 Palace of Sarum, November 1179

13 Palace of Sarum, June 1180

14 Lewes Castle, Sussex, July 1181

15 Winchester Castle, November 1181

16 Winchester Castle, September 1182

17 Winchester Castle, April 1183

18 Rouen Cathedral, September 1183

19 Rouen, September 1183

20 Winchester Castle, July 1184

21 Windsor Castle, January 1185

22 Fortress of Domfront, Christmas 1185

23 Woodstock, August 1186

24 Winchester Castle, April 1187

25 Palace of Sarum, Autumn 1188

26 Palace of Sarum, July 1189

27 Amesbury Priory, August 1189

28 Westminster, September 1189

29 Nonancourt, Normandy, March 1190

30 Pamplona, Navarre, September 1190

31 The Alps, Winter 1190–1

32 Reggio, Italy, March 1191

33 Bures, Normandy, Christmas 1191

34 Palace of Westminster, Christmas 1192

35 Palace of Westminster, February 1193

36 Palace of Westminster, Summer 1193

37 Southampton, December 1193

38 Winchester Castle, April 1194

39 Abbey of Fontevraud, Summer 1194

40 Abbey of Fontevraud, April 1199

41 Abbey of Fontevraud, April 1199

42 Rouen, Summer 1199

43 Palace of Poitiers, Winter 1199

44 Burgos, Spain, Spring 1200

45 Abbey of Fontevraud, Summer 1200

46 Abbey of Fontevraud, June 1202

47 Castle of Mirebeau, Poitiers, June 1202

48 Abbey of Fontevraud, April 1203

49 Abbey of Fontevraud, April 1204

Epilogue

Author’s Note

Select Bibliography

Acknowledgements

The Norman and Angevin kings of England

Note for Readers

I have called Eleanor ‘Alienor’ in the body of the novel, rather than Eleanor, because Alienor is what she would have called herself and it is how her name appears in her charters and in the Anglo-Norman texts where she is mentioned. I felt it was fitting to give her that recognition.

1
Palace of Sarum, Wiltshire, April 1176

Alienor,
Duchess of Aquitaine and Normandy, Countess of Anjou, Queen to King Henry the second of England, gazed around the bare, cold chamber that had been her prison for almost two years. Pale spring sunlight splashed through the window arches, and pooled in tepid gold on the floor boards. The hearth had been swept clean of ashes, and her few portable furnishings were loaded on the baggage cart waiting in the courtyard.

A chill breeze brushed her face. All winter the wind had swept across the Downs, howling around the white-washed palace buildings like a hungry wolf. Her joints had grown stiff, and her thoughts had become as turbid as the mud at the bottom of a frozen pond. It was difficult to stir, to awaken and face the world. A cramped limb returning to life always caused an agonising tingle. Holding out her hands she noticed the soft fawn age-mottles, but they bothered her less than the way they shook.

Her wedding ring glinted. Despite all she had suffered at Henry’s behest she still wore it, for while it adorned her finger, she was his queen and duchess. Even incarcerated on this wind-scoured hill top, her titles retained their potency. Henry in his usual ruthless way had isolated her here. The world moved and she had been banished from moving with it, her sin that of defying his will in rebellion and interfering with his policies. He accused her of betraying him, but the greatest betrayals had always been his.

What news she received was filtered through her gaolers, who were disposed to tell her little, and then only details that
brought her low while exalting her husband. Now, however, he had summoned her to attend his Easter court at Winchester, and she was suspicious of the reason. Forgiveness in the season of Christ’s rising? She doubted it. Further punishment? He must want something from her, even if only to parade her before his nobles and prove he had not had her murdered. He could ill afford to have another such accusation on his hands – not after his Archbishop of Canterbury had been hacked to death before the altar of his own cathedral by four knights of the royal household.

Hearing footsteps in the chamber beyond, she faced the door, concealing her anxiety behind regal hauteur. Much as she desired to leave this place, the notion of stepping into the world made her anxious because she did not know what she would find, or how long this reprieve from isolation would last.

She was expecting her gaoler Robert Maudit, and was astonished when the door opened and her eldest son stood on the threshold, dazzled in spring sunlight from the squint window on the stairs. His fair-brown hair was wind-tousled, and a magnificent white gyrfalcon rode on his gloved right wrist.

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