Arthur woke up earlier than usual, wondering why he thought of a king from so long ago, from such a wretched past. Then he remembered; Matthew. He ran his hand through his blonde hair as he began to get up and go about his morning ritual when he smelt something.
He got dressed and went down the stairs to see the Canadian flipping pancakes he stopped moving and just watched his guest cook. Had it been anyone else, say France or America he would have had their heads by now, but since it was Canada he wouldn’t. It was unlike him, he normally would treat everyone the same way, biting their heads off, but after opening up to Matthew about Edward I… He shook his head and made his way into the kitchen.
“You found everything all right?”
Matthew jumped; thankfully the hot pan that was cooking the pancake was on the stove still; “Er… Yes… I hope you…”
Arthur waved him off; “Not at all, it’s your home too,” He paused for a moment; “Just don’t tell America that,”
Matthew laughed slightly and finished off the last pancake. Arthur was impressed, it was a big tower of pancakes and he also noticed the maple syrup that the younger nation also found in his cupboards. The table in the kitchen was set up and so they had breakfast there. Arthur made the tea as Matthew began to eat.
“So Edward went on the Crusades?”
“Yes, he did,” Arthur poured the tea out and reset the teapot on the table between them.
“Why so long for him to come home? Did he not…” Matthew trailed off; he noticed that England looked at him, wanting him to finish his question.
“Spit it out,”
“Ah… Did he not love his father enough?” Matthew wanted to ground to open up and swallow him the pained look Arthur gave was heart-breaking.
It didn’t take too long for the nation to refocus though; “He did, we all knew how much he wanted to go on the crusades, he had to get the respect of those other nations before he could come back home. Well, perhaps not so much respect as to get the other countries to understand that they couldn’t put down his land anymore,”
The Welsh Prince, Llwelyn ap Graffydd failed to pay homage to the King, to begin with Edward had been understanding, there was certain demands happening in Wales, but he gave word twice for Llwelyn to attend his court and even travelled to Chester to make it easier, but instead my brother sent me a letter, telling me to learn my place, that no Welsh Prince would bow to my King.
I never told Edward about that letter. It would only have enraged him further and he had already come up with a plan to deal with Llwelyn.
The Welsh Prince was declared a rebel and anyone who supported him would be a traitor. I was rather impressed with how swift Edward was to take action, he was nothing like his father, not willing to give out so many second chances, three chances were given out and then it was on their own heads.
Our forces went out to Powys and any opposition fell immediately and soon the soldiers went towards Gwynedd to force the Welsh Prince into submission.
When Llwelyn finally bowed to my King I felt proud, for Edward had not only foiled a Prince, but also my brother; although he would continue to hate me that didn’t matter to me at the time. I had someone who served my country, who could protect my country and manage to put one of my brother’s in their place… I don’t mean I wanted to rule over them, but after so many years of them beating me up and looking down on me I was elated to have a King who could stand up to them. A Treaty was signed and the Prince retained his hollow title and got to keep his rule over Gwyndd, however he had to share the land with his younger brother.
Llwelyn was respectful after that, I had found the Prince to be rather good company, a bit rough but that was to be expected.
Matthew stared at the green eyed nation in surprise, he was hearing about England’s past that no one spoke of. This nation was downtrodden and had to fight to gain his place in Europe, but with no strong King he couldn’t have managed it on his own.
“Llwelyn was no fool, regardless of what his country-men and my own brother said, he knew too well that the odds were stacked against him, to fight Edward would have been suicidal, he would have died with honour but what of his people?”
“Was he a friend?” Matthew decided to ask, taking a sip of tea.
Arthur shook his head; “No, no human is our friend, we lie to them about who we are. We can’t trust them easily and they can’t trust us, they can use us against our Kings or we can go against them. Only the King knew of me,”
“Not even the Queen?”
Arthur took a sip of his own tea and closed his eyes before he answered; “Very few Queen’s knew, Elizabeth and Victoria of course, Bloody Mary… However back then, before all those Queens, Eleanor knew me. Edward refused to have a secret like that kept from his wife, he trusted her completely and she trusted him,” He smiled and placed the tea cup back.
“So he loved her that much?”
The older nation laughed slightly; “Never had I seen a King love his Queen more nor as deeply as Edward loved Eleanor. As I have also said he had a temper but with just a look from Eleanor his temper would fade, oh it still simmered but it wasn’t as abrupt as it had been,”
In that short moment the Canadian saw Arthur, truly saw him; not as a former Empire or a short tempered nation, but as a nation whose own history had deeply affected him.
The other nations, such as France, would never have noticed it, not in this way since that nation would have just teased Arthur, but Matthew was young, so much younger and he had never suffered from the pain that France and England had felt in their long, long time as nations. He could see clearly how such long history affected these nations, even more so due to Arthur telling him a small portion about his past.
“Shall we go out for lunch?” Arthur suggested.
Matthew felt relieved, he didn’t want to suffer from the awful cooking the nation made, although he was fond of some of the food, but his stomach couldn’t handle Arthur’s own cooking.
“Yes, that would be nice,”
“I wanted to go out and see the village,” Arthur explained as he took the cups to the sink, deciding to wash them later and Matthew came over putting the plates next to the sink; “We’ll leave this for later, no rush,”
Matthew nodded, although he felt guilty, he always liked to do some of his own chores even if he was a guest, so all he wanted to do in that moment was wash the dished, but if Arthur said it was okay to leave them then he wouldn’t argue. If anything he wanted to know what was going to happen next.
He was patient though, letting Arthur do whatever business he had with the villagers and then they got lunch from a bakery to sit out in a small park nearby to eat. The Canadian ate his food, not noticing Arthur watching him.
They are so alike, yet Matthew is so much more mature and although he is timid, he is a force to be reckoned with… If I hadn’t had such strong Kings and Queen’s would I have been like that? Or would I have been so much weaker? He mused over this thought as he finished his small lunch.
Canada enjoyed the warmth as he waited for the other nation to finish his tea, although he too was pondering some thoughts, but decided to ask them to the nation across from him; “Were there any Kings that you hated?”
Arthur swallowed his remaining tea and looked at the violet blue eyed nation before answering; “Of course, just because Kings and Queens knew of me didn’t mean that I would enjoy their company or their rule over my land. Simon and Matilda were two such people,” He closed his eyes, thinking of the past, oh he hated it; “Simon came to the throne… He was a good King, I won’t argue with that, but… He was too nice. That was how Matilda managed to dispose of him and gain the throne, only the throne, she was never crowned, too much was going on in the country for such a ceremony to take place. She called herself Empress though and demanded everyone else to do the same,”
Matthew raised an eyebrow in surprise, he’d never heard of this but he got a feeling that Arthur would continue to surprise him; “Empress Matilda?”
The green eyed nation nodded; “I never told her or Simon. It was too risky. However when Simon came back to the throne in full glory I was tempted… But I decided not to,”
“What about Henry VIII?” His mind was so full of questions and he wanted answers, all the answers that his elder could give him.
Arthur shook his head with a smile; “One King at a time,”
“B…” He knew it foolish to argue, but he did so anyway.
“King Edward,” Arthur reminded him and Matthew nodded, knowing that he needed to focus on this King first.
As time passed Llwelyn’s brother, Dafydd ; who was the one that shared Gwynedd; began a rebellion with my brother in tow. Llwelyn had no choice but to fight, to refuse to take part would have shamed not only him but his country would be divided even further.
“That bastard,” Edward said, he looked ready to start a fight with anyone in the room, and since there was only myself and a servant filling our drinks I let the servants take the fall.
A punch to the face and the servant ran off quickly, leaving the King trembling, his rage not sated at all.
“I was too soft. I shall not be anything like my father in that respect, these foolish Prince’s need to learn their place, I am not going to let either of them get away with this treachery!”
When he told the barons, they were delighted, the King wanted to show the Welsh how powerful he truly was, while the baron’s wanted blood and extra land. I have never seen men as excited for the sight of blood as I did on that day.
And army was raised quickly and sent to Wales to deal with the rebellion, our forces had far greater resources but the Welsh wanted a fight and our victory didn’t look at all certain until Llwelyn was killed in battle.
Dafydd continued to hold our armies off, but over time we managed to wear away at them, Dafydd wasn’t as experienced with dealing with his own soldiers as Llwelyn had been, they lost the will to fight for him. The battle was ours and Dafydd was arrested and executed for treason.
Edward’s baron’s however wanted more blood to spill;
“Those who fought against you…”
Edward waved him off like a fly; “The leaders of the rebellion are dead, they have no one to fight for any more,”
He was cunning; he had the Statue of Wales which meant that the country was now under his rule; as well as my own. He also had three sheriffs’ administer justice in his abscess and gave a series of Lordships, some were granted to the former princes who had been disposed, to show that the King was merciful (although Edward knew that if any of them dared to rebel again he would quickly remove the titles and never return them), the rest of the titles he gave to his own baron’s, to keep them sweet and to make them less demanding, but it was also a warning; King Edwards rule is solid, he defeated the Welsh and took over their land, what trouble could he cause to his own baron’s?
Of course the King was no fool, the Welsh people wanted a true Prince from Edward; and so at the celebration of the battle, and Edward’s victory against his rivals the Welsh, he made a promise to grant them a prince who would be born on their own soil.
What they didn’t know was that Eleanor had travelled with her husband while the battle raged on, during that time – and for many, many years after – kings went with their soldier’s to the battle, they didn’t always take part however, but they were always there to boost morale; the Queen had been pregnant and gave birth while in Caernarvon.
So the King promptly showed them his infant son, Edward the 3rd, this was in June 1284 however the young Prince never received the official title until 1301, since infant mortality was high and no one wanted a young Prince who did not live long enough to truly see his kingdom.
The celebrations continued long into the night, the Welsh nobility cheered at the thought of a young Prince, even if it was their own enemies son, they gained too much from this King than they did the two Princes.
Edward soon directed his energies elsewhere, he wanted to a reformation of the feudal jurisdictions in his countries legal system.
“I have dispatched commissioners throughout the land,” He told me over breakfast, the Queen also dined with us, but that was all. When the King wished to speak privately during breakfast he did so, although he did enjoy the companionship of the other nobility, sometimes he just wanted to have a quiet time.
“My King?” I asked, unsure what he meant.
“I want to establish who had authority over what land,” He took a sip of his wine and just as I was about to speak the Queen shook her head with a small smile on her face; “I want to learn if anyone of my subjects have been abusing their power,”
I was stunned, no King ever thought to do what he was doing; no King truly cared about his lower subjects, just those who were noble, and those whose opinions mattered.
“Ah, I see my Lord husband has surprised you Arthur,” Eleanor teased me and I went red; “He has been thinking this over for some time, since that time with Simon de Montfort,”
I nodded, now understanding; “You wish to try and keep all your subjects happy?” I was stilled stunned that I never addressed him with his title, as I ought to have done.
“My baron’s administer my laws, but there is nothing to stop them from abusing that power and claiming it was done in my name,” Edward smiled; “Now there is, I refuse to have my name dragged through the mud just because the baron’s want to prove themselves to be great,”
I nodded, sipping my own wine and then we spoke of other things.
When the baron’s learned of this, they claimed it was their right and had been since time immemorial, although there was no charters which granted them such authority.
So the King recognized that authority had been granted in the time of Henry II – his great grandfather – which was early enough to qualify as time immemorial, considering the unstable years of Simon and Matilda’s own civil war, however anything recent had to be supported with written evidence. Edward had this established and then put the collection of taxes and other such revenues onto a firm foothold, allowing him to reconstruct his own authority and that of his baron’s in far more defined set of laws.
This clarity for revenues allowed him to finance the military campaign’s he had begun; of course he would still sweeten his baron’s by gaining their assent to his tax collection.
The combination of the tax and legal reforms in consultation with his peers brought about the evolution of government by Parliament. It was one of the first of its kind in those days; the King would consult with his own people – via the barons and nobility. The Great Council had met since the time of King John, but this… Matthew this was something else, this allowed the people to be represented! In twenty years it would be established as a formal parliament. Of course Edward was quick to punish any who would dare abuse their authority.
This endeared the King to the commoner’s of England, who saw him as their saviour, to which the King was glad.
“No King before me has ever listened to the commoner’s have they?”
I shook my head; “No my King, not for some time,”
Arthur looked at his pocket watch; “I suppose we should head back, it’s getting late,”
Matthew stood up and stretched, his left leg had pins and needles dancing as he sat down for too long.
The Canadian watched the older nation, he noted the slight glow, Arthur was happy to tell the history of Edward, that a section of history actually helped the rest of the world. He smiled and followed him back to his house, knowing that the rest of the lesson would be continued tomorrow.