Authors: Virginia Henley
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #General
Few writers can rival the sheer storytel ing mastery of New
York Times bestsel ing author Virginia Henley. Brimming with
sensual tension, humor, and narrative power, Henley's award-
winning novels have enchanted readers worldwide. Now in
The Marriage Prize—the third novel in her Plantagenet trilogy,
which began with The Falcon and the Flower and continued in
The Dragon and the Jewel—this incomparable storytel er
returns to medieval England and brings to life a love story so
passionate it wil take your breath away. Orphaned at a young
age, Rosamond Marshal is a royal ward of Eleanor de
Montfort, sister of King Henry I I and wife of the renowned
warlord Simon de Montfort. Unger the worldly countess's
tutelage, Rosamond learns not only the skil s of a chatelaine,
but how to wield her female power by dressing exquisitely,
conversing wittily, and charming men mercilessly. As she
reaches young womanhood, the beautiful heiress is fearful of
leaving the security of the de Montfort household and fulfil ing
her betrothal to the powerful bachelor knight Rodger de
Leyburn. Just as Rodger devilishly outmaneuvers Rosamond's
strategems to break their betrothal, Prince Edward wil accept
none of Rosamond's excuses to forestal her marriage. For
the prince is determined to reward Rodger, his dearest friend,
with a wealthy, noble wife.
Slowly Rodger woos Rosamond, convincing her that his love
extends beyond her estates and her wealth. But no sooner
does Rosamond become Rodger's wife and experience al
the exquisite ways a man can love a woman than she finds
herself and her husband on opposite sides of a bloody civil
war. For Rodger is fighting alongside Prince Edward and the
king to quel the barons' rebel ion, led by none other than
Rosamond's beloved guardian, Simon de Montfort.
Delacorte Press, division of Random House, Inc
Rosamond Marshal Niece of the late Wil iam Marshal, first
(fictional) husband of Princess Eleanor Plantagenet
Sir Rodger de Leyburn Royal Steward to Prince Edward
Prince Edward Plantagenet Known as Lord Edward; heir of
King Henry I I
Princess Eleanora of Castile Wife of Prince Edward
Simon de Montfort Known as the Great Warlord; second
Earl of Leicester husband of Princess Eleanor; chosen leader
of England's barons
Eleanor de Montfort Born Princess Eleanor Plantagenet;
Countess of Leicester of King Henry I I and Richard of
Demoisel e de Montfort Daughter of Eleanor and Simon de
King Henry I I Plantagenet King of England
Queen Eleanor of Provence Queen of England (wife of Henry
Richard of Cornwal Brother of King Henry I I and
Princess Eleanor (de Montfort)
Harry of Almaine Son of Richard of Cornwal and the late
Isabel a Marshal; half-brother of Richard de Clare
Richard de Clare Earl of Gloucester; England's leading peer;
half-brother of Harry of Almaine
Gilbert de Clare Known as Gilbert the Red;
son of Richard de Clare
Alyce de Clare Wife of Gilbert de Clare;
daughter of Guy de Lusignan, half-brother of King Henry
Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk, Marshal of England
Humphrey de Bohun Chief Justiciar of England
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire May 1253
Twelve-year-old Rosamond Marshal clung to Eleanor de
Mont-fort's hand as her guardian led her into Kenilworth's
library. The young girl was dressed in a plain gray mourning
gown, and her face was as pale as the linen head-cloth that
covered her fair hair. Her eyes appeared to be too large for
her smal face, and she looked at the people in the room as if
she did not real y see them. Rosamond was in shock. Three
days ago, her brother Giles, who had been al of fourteen
years of age, had been kil ed in a jousting accident.
When Rosamond felt Lady Eleanor squeeze her hand, she
sank into a curtsy before King Henry, who was her royal
guardian's brother. Lady Eleanor's husband, Simon de
Montfort, was standing beside the king, and Prince Edward,
the fifteen-year-old heir to the throne, waited to one side with
his friend Rodger de Leyburn.
The official document that would betroth Lady Rosamond
Marshal to Sir Rodger de Leyburn lay on the oak table
awaiting only the signatures of those present in Kenilworth's
library. Lady Eleanor picked up the quil pen, dipped it into the
inkwel , and handed it to Rosamond. "Sign here, my dear."
Without even glancing at the youth to whom they were
betrothing her, the royal ward took the pen and signed the
document as if she were in a trance. She had withdrawn to a
place deep inside of herself in order to escape the
unbearable pain caused by her brother's death. Because the
young heiress was now alone in the world, everyone had
thought it best to betroth her to a suitable husband. Rosamond
went through the motions of the betrothal, accepting her
guardians' decision without question.
Prince Edward nudged his friend's shoulder, and Rodger de
stepped up to the oak table and added his bold signature to
the betrothal document. He was darkly attractive and his
green eyes held a serious look that befitted the solemn
occasion. De Leyburn's manner showed that he was perfectly
wil ing to betroth Rosamond Marshal, yet he did not appear to
be eager. Then the long, the prince, and the de Montforts
affixed their signatures to make it official. Lady Eleanor and
Rosamond were the first to leave, and when the library door
closed behind them, Edward turned to his friend and said,
"Rodger, you won't regret this; Rosamond Marshal is a great
The young heiress most certainly was a sought-after prize.
King Henry had wanted Rosamond for his foreign half-
brother's son, Geoffrey of Valence. But Simon de Montfort had
told the king bluntly that the barons would be up in arms if one
more English heiress was given to a foreigner. Simon had
made it plain that the barons were sick and tired of their king
made it plain that the barons were sick and tired of their king
squandering money, land, and castles on his foreign relatives.
So Henry had grudgingly al owed his son Edward to choose
Rosamond Marshal's future husband.
For the next five years, King Henry wil ful y ignored the growing
anger of the barons. He appointed foreigners to high office
and cal ed Parliament only when he was in dire straits for
money, making promises he had no intention of keeping.
Final y, the barons had had enough. Choosing Simon de
Montfort as their leader, they issued King Henry an ultimatum:
Either he transferred the authority to govern to a council of
leading English peers, or there would be civil war.
King Henry immediately turned submissive and signed the
Provisions of Oxford, which laid out the barons' demands. The
king's half-brothers, who had been living in luxury, fled back to
the Continent, and the barons believed they had saved
England from ruin. Flush with their victory at Oxford, the
Marcher barons left to subdue an uprising in Wales. Prince
Edward, now twenty and newly returned from Gascony, joined
the campaign, and Henry of England took himself across the
Channel to sign a treaty with Louis of France over disputed
provinces. But at the first opportunity, Henry intended to take a
major step toward reasserting his authority at home—he
would ask the Pope to absolve him from his oath to uphold the
Provisions of Oxford. He would show the barons who ruled
England. The king, and the king alone!
Kenilworth Castle November 1258
A wave of stark terror swept over Rosamond Marshal,
snatching her breath away. She began to run the moment she
saw the dark horse and rider, knowing instinctively they would
pursue her. Relentlessly! The rider was faceless. Al she knew
was that he was dark, but it was the horse she feared most. It
was huge, black, and terrifying.
An icy shiver slithered down her spine. Her pale golden hair
tumbled wildly about her shoulders as she pul ed her skirts
high, baring long, slim legs, in a desperate attempt to escape
being trampled by the cruel hooves. Her lungs felt as if they
would burst as she gasped for just one more breath that would
carry her to safety. Her pulse hammered inside her eardrums,
deafening her as she turned to look over her shoulder.
Rosamond's eyes widened in horror and a scream was torn
from her throat as she saw the black forelegs rise above her,
then helplessly she tumbled beneath the murderous hooves.
Rosamond's eyes flew open. Slowly, she became aware of
her surroundings. She was lying in her bed, her hair a wild
tangle, her night rail twisted about her body so that her long
legs were bared. Heaving a ragged sigh of relief, she sat up.
"Whatever is amiss, Rosamond?" Demoisel e de Montfort
asked, throwing back her covers and padding barefoot
across the spacious bedchamber they shared at Kenilworth
Rosamond tossed back her hair in a gesture of dismissal to
reassure her young friend. "It was nothing, Demi."
"But you screamed," the young, dark-haired girl insisted.
"Was it the old nightmare come back to haunt you?"
"No, of course not," Rosamond said. She was seventeen,
almost three years older than the Demoisel e, as everyone
affectionately cal ed
young Eleanor de Montfort. The unusual nickname had been
given to her by a French nursemaid because mother and
daughter had the same name. Rosamond was determined not
to alarm her friend. She laughed with bravado. "It would take
more than a bad dream to frighten me."
"Could we have a light?" The Demoisel e had always been
afraid of total darkness, which was why Rosamond shared her
chamber, high in the Lady Tower.
"I'm so sorry I disturbed you, Demi." She lit the square,
scented candle in its metal stand and tucked the Demoisel e
back into bed. Back in her own bed, Rosamond offered a
silent prayer of thanks that she was safe and secure at
Kenilworth. Located in the midland county of Warwickshire,
eighty miles from London, the castle was her haven, her
refuge, where she felt protected from the harsh world.
Rosamond watched the shadows flicker upon the wal . She
hadn't had the trampling dream in a long time and had hoped
she was free of it, but apparently she was not completely free.
Though Rosamond knew what caused it, she never spoke of it
Because her parents had both died while she and her brother
Giles were children, they had become royal wards. Since
Giles was the same age as Prince Edward Plantagenet, he
had joined the prince's household, becoming one of a dozen
noble youths who were Edward's companions. Rosamond,
however, had joined the household of the king's sister, Eleanor
de Montfort, Countess of Leicester, because Rosamond was
the niece of the late Wil iam Marshal, who had been Princess
Eleanor's first husband.
The brother and sister had seen each other often because
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, was Prince Edward's
godfather, and the young noblemen received their military
training from the great warlord, reputed to be the ablest
warrior in Christendom. By the time he was fifteen, Lord
Edward, as the heir to the throne was cal ed, had towered
head and shoulders over the other men of the court. His
companions were al high-spirited youths, guilty of excesses.
Some of them were his cousins from Provence and Lusignan,
who thought themselves above curbs and restraints.
Though King Henry had forbidden them to joust, Lord Edward
and his companions had ridden over to Ware to take part in a
THE MARRIAGE PRIZE
ment. That was the fateful day that Giles Marshal had lost his
life in a jousting accident. Because Rosamond was only