SUMMARY Sovereign: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery
Cted he thought as I did that neither the evangelical nor the papist sides had much to commend them I knew he still mourned Thomas Cromwell but his loyalty to his old master had been personal not religiousWe picked our way through the crowds Baraks clothes like mine were covered in dust his hard comely face under the flat black cap tanned from our days ridingOld Wrenne was curious about whether the ueen is pregnant he saidLike everybody else The King has only one son the dynasty hangs on a single lifeOne of my old mates at court said the King nearly died in the spring some trouble with an ulcer in his leg They had to push him round Whitehall Palace in a little chair on wheelsI looked at Barak curiously He heard some interesting nuggets of news from his old cronies among the spies and troubleshooters in royal service A Howard prince would strengthen the papist faction at court Their head the Duke of Norfolk being the ueens uncleBarak shook his head They say the ueen has no interest in religion Shes only eighteen just a giddy girl He smiled lubriciously The Kings a lucky old dogCranmer indicated Norfolk is less in favour nowMaybe he will lose his head then he replied bitterness entering his voice Who can ever tell with this King We should keep our voices down I said I felt uncomfortable in York There were no broad central avenues as in London everywhere one felt hemmed in by the passers by It was too crowded for riding and I resolved that we should walk from now on Although the streets were thronged and much trading was going on in anticipation of the arrival of the Progress there was little of the cheerful bustle of London We attractedhostile looks as we rode slowly onThe boy had been right about the Shambles the smell of ripe meat assailed us when we were still twenty yards away We rode into another narrow street where joints were set out on stalls buzzing with flies I was glad we were mounted now for the road was thick with discarded offal Barak wrinkled his nose as he watched the shoppers waving flies from the meat women holding the ends of their skirts above the mess as they haggled with the shopkeepers When we were through the disgusting place I patted Genesis and spoke soothing words for the smells had frightened him At the end of another uieter street we could see ahead the city wall and another barbican patrolled by guards Beyond a high green mound was visible with a round stone keep on topYork Castle I saidA girl was advancing towards us I noticed her because a servant with the Kings badge prominent on his doublet was walking behind her The wench wore a fine yellow dress and was exceptionally pretty with soft features a full lipped mouth and healthy white skin Fine blonde hair was visible below her white coif She caught my eye then looked at Barak and as we passed smiled boldly up at him Barak doffed his cap from the saddle showing his fine white teeth in a smile The girl lowered her eyes and walked onThats a bold hussy I saidBarak laughed A girl may smile at a fine fellow may she not You dont want any dalliances here Shes a Yorker she may eat youThat I wouldnt mindWe reached the barbican Here too a crop of heads was fixed to poles and a mans severed leg was nailed above the gate I brought forth my letter of authority and we were allowed to pass through We rode alongside the castle wall beside a shallow moat full of mud Looking up at the high round keep I saw it was in a ruinous state the white walls covered with lichen and a great crack running down the middle Ahead two towers flanked a gate where an ancient drawbridge crossed the moat People were going in and out across it and the sight of black robed lawyers reminded me the York courts were housed within the castle bailey As our horses clattered across the drawbridge two guards in Kings livery stepped forward crossing their pikes to bar our way A third took Genesis reins looking at me closelyWhats your business His accent showed him to be another man of the southern shiresWe are from London We have business with Master Radwinter the Archbishops gaolerThe guard gave me a keen look Go to the south tower the other side of the bailey As we went under the gate I turned and saw him staring after usThis citys nothing but walls and gates Barak said as we came out into the bailey Like the rest of the place it had seen far better days a number of imposing buildings had been built against the interior of the high castle walls but like the keep many were streaked with lichen gaps in the plaster Even the courthouse wherelawyers stood arguing on the steps looked tumbledown No wonder the King had chosen to stay at St Marys AbbeyI saw something dangling from the high keep A white skeleton wrapped in heavy chainsAnother rebel Barak said They like to drive the point homeNo thats been there a long time the bones are picked uite clean Id guess thats Robert Aske who led the Pilgrimage of Grace five years ago I had heard he was hanged in chains I shuddered for that was a dreadful death and pulled at Genesis reins Come lets find the gaolerAnother pair of towers flanked the opposite gateway We rode across and dismounted I was still stiff and tired despite the brief rest though Barak seemed to have recovered his energy I must do my back exercises tonight I thoughtA guard approached a fellow of my own age with a hard suare face I told him we had come from Archbishop Cranmer to see Master RadwinterHe was expecting you yesterdaySo was everyone We were delayed Could you stable our horses And give them some feed they are sore tired and hungryHe called a second guard I nodded to Barak Go with them I think Id best see him alone this first timeBarak looked disappointed but went off with the horses The first guard led me to a door in the tower unlocked it and led me up a narrow spiral staircase lit by tiny arrow slit windows We climbed perhaps halfway up the tower and I was panting by the time he halted before a stout wooden door He knocked and a voice called Come in The guard opened the door standing aside to let me enter then closed it behind me I heard his footsteps descending againThe chamber was gloomyarrow slit windows looking out across the city The stone walls were bare though scented rushes were scattered on the flagstones A neatly made truckle bed stood against one wall a table covered with papers against another Beside it a man sat in a cushioned chair reading a book a candle set on a little table beside him to augment the dim light I had expected a gaolers slovenly dress but he wore a clean brown doublet and good woollen hose He shut his book and rose with a smile smoothly as a catHe was about forty There was a pair of deep furrows in his cheeks otherwise his features were regular framed by a short beard black like his hair but greying around the corners of his mouth He was short slim but strong lookingMaster Shardlake he said in a melodious voice with a slight Londoners burr extending a hand Fulke Radwinter I had expected you yesterday He smiled showing small white teeth but his light blue eyes were hard and sharp as ice The hand that took mine was clean and dry the nails filed This was indeed no common gaolerDid the stairs tire you he asked solicitously You seem to breathe a little heavilyWe had to ride through the night Master Radwinter I spoke firmly I needed to establish my authority I felt inside my coat pocket I should show you the Archbishops seal I passed it to him He studied it a moment then handed it backAll in order he said with another smileSo then My lord Archbishop has written to you told you I am to have oversight of the welfare of Sir Edward Broderick Indeed He shook his head Though really there was no need The Archbishop is a great and godly man yet he can becomeoveranxiousSir Edward is in good health then Radwinter inclined his head He had some rough treatment from the Kings interrogators when he was first taken Before certain matters came to light and it was decided to hale him to London Most secret matters He raised his eyebrows He must know that the nature of those matters had been kept from me as it had from him Cranmer would have told him in his letterSo then he was tortured before you cameThe gaoler nodded He is in some discomfort but nothing can be done about that Otherwise he keeps well enough He will be in London soon Then he will be in far greater discomfort The King wants him uestioned as soon as possible but it isimportant that it is done by the most skilled people and they are in LondonI had tried not to think of what must await the prisoner at the end of his journey I suppressed a shudderWell sir Radwinter said cheerily Will you have some beer Not now thank you I ought to see Sir EdwardHe inclined his head again Of course Let me get the keys He went over to a chest and opened it I glanced at the papers on his desk Warrants and what looked like a sheet of notes in a small round hand His book I saw was a copy of Tyndales The Obedience of a Christian Man a reformist text The desk was set beside one of the narrow windows giving a good view across the city Glancing out I saw many steeples and one larger church that had no roof another dissolved monastery no doubt Beyond lay marshland and then a lake Looking directly down I saw the moat ran broader on this side of the castle a wide channel fringed thickly with reeds People were moving about there women with large baskets on their backsThey are picking reeds to make rushlights I started at Radwinters soft voice beside me And see there He pointed down to where one woman was pulling at something on her leg I heard very faintly a little cry of pain Radwinter smiled Theyre gathering the leeches that bite them for the apothecariesIt must be a miserable occupation standing deep in mud waiting for those things to biteTheir legs must be covered in little scars He turned to me his eyes looking into mine As the body of England is covered in the scars left by the great leech of Rome Well let us see our friend Broderick He turned and crossed to the door I took the candle from beside his chair before following him outRADWINTER CLATTERED RAPIDLY up the stairs to the next floor halting before a stout door with a little barred window He looked in then unlocked the door and went inside I followedThe cell was small and dim for there was but one tiny window barred and unglassed the open shutters letting in a cold breeze The chill air smelled of damp and ordure and the rushes beneath my shoes felt slimy The clank of a chain made me turn to a corner of the room A thin figure in a dirty white shirt lay on a wooden palletA visitor for you Broderick Radwinter said From London His voice kept its smooth even toneThe man sat up his chains rattling in a slow and painful way that made me think he must be old but as I approached I saw the face beneath its coating of grime was young a man in his twenties He had thick matted fair hair and an untidy growth of beard framing a long narrow face that would have been handsome in normal circumstances I thought he did not look dangerous but as he studied me I started at the anger in his bloodshot eyes I saw that a long length of chain looped through manacles on both his wrists was bolted into the wall beside the bedFrom London The hoarse voice was that of a gentleman Are there to begropings with the poker then No I replied uietly I am here to ensure you get there safe and wellThe anger in his gaze did not change The Kings torturers prefer a whole body to work on hey His voice broke and he coughed For Jesus sake Master Radwinter may I not have something to drink Not till you can repeat the verses I set you yesterdayI stared at him What is this Radwinter smiled I have set Broderick to learn ten verses of the Bible each day in the hope that Gods pure word in English may yet amend his papist soul Yesterday he was obdurate I told him he would have nodrink till he could say his versesGet him some now please I said sharply You are here to care for his body not his soul I held the candle up to Radwinters face For a moment his lips pressed hard together Then he smiled again Of course Perhaps he has been too long without I will call a guard to fetch someNo you go It will be uicker And I will be safe he is well chainedRadwinter hesitated then strode from the room without another word I heard the key turn in the lock shutting me in I stood and looked at the prisoner who had bowed his headIs there anything else you need I asked I promise I am not here to harm you I know nothing of what you are accused my commission from the Archbishop is only to see you safe to LondonHe looked up at me then and gave a grimace of a smile Cranmer worries his man may make sport with my body Has he I askedNo He likes to grope at my mind but I am proof against that Broderick gave me a long hard look then stretched out again on his pallet As he did so the open neck of his shirt revealed the livid mark of a burn on his chestLet me see that I said sharply Open your shirtHe shrugged then sat up and untied the strings I winced Someone had drawn a hot poker across his body several times One mark on his chest was red and inflamed oozing pus that glinted in the candlelight He stared at me fiercely I could almost feel his rage I thought if Radwinter is ice this man is fireWhere did you get those I askedHere in the castle from the Kings men when they took me a fortnight ago They could not break me That is why I am being sent to London to be worked on by men of real skill But you know thatI said nothingHe looked at me curiously What manner of man are you then that my marks seem to offend you yet you work with RadwinterI am a lawyer And I told you I am here to ensure you are well cared forHis eyes burned again You think that will suffice in Gods eyes for what you do here What do you mean You keep me safe and well for the torturers in London that they may have longer sport I would rather die hereYou could just give them the information they want I said They will have it from you in the endHe smiled a ghastly rictus Ah a soft persuader But I will never talk no matter what they doThere are few who go to the Tower who do not talk in the end But I am not here to persuade you of anything You should have a physician howeverI ask nothing from you crookback He lay down again looking across at the window There was silence for a moment then he asked suddenly Did you see where Robert Aske still hangs in chains from Cliffords Tower That is Aske then YesMy chain is just long enough to allow me to stand at the window I look out and remember When Robert was convicted of treason the King promised he should be spared the pains of disembowelling at his execution that he would hang till he was dead He did not realize the King meant he was to be dangled alive in chains till he died from thirst and hunger He coughed Poor Robert that trusted Henry the CruelHave a care Sir EdwardHe turned and looked at me Robert Aske was my best friendA key grated in the lock and Radwinter returned bearing a pitcher of weak beer He handed it to Broderick who sat up and took a deep draught I motioned Radwinter into the cornerHas he spoken the gaoler snappedOnly to tell me he knew Robert Aske But I have seen the burns on his body I do not like the look of them One is inflamed he should have a physicianVery well Radwinter nodded A man dead of fever will be no use to the Archbishop after allPlease arrange it I will call tomorrow to see how he does And he should have fresh rushesScented perhaps with sweet herbs Radwinter still smiled but there was cold anger in his voice Well Broderick he continued You have been telling Master Shardlake about Aske I am told that in the first winter after he died when all his flesh had been eaten by the ravens and little bones began falling to the ground they had to set a guard for people were taking away the bones Bones from his hands and feet are hidden by papists all over York Usually in the dunghills for that is the safest place to keep relics safe from a search It is also where Askes bones belongBroderick jumped up with a sound between a groan and a snarl There was a rattle of chains as he sprang at Radwinter The gaoler had been watching for the move He stepped uickly back and the chains holding Brodericks arms tautened jerking him back on the bed He slumped with a groanRadwinter laughed softly Watch him Master Shardlake You see he is not as weakly as he looks Well Broderick I shall ignore your violence and comfort myself with the knowledge of what awaits you in London As tis well said there is truth in pain He stepped past me and opened the door I followed with a last glance back at the prisoner Broderick was staring at me againYou are a lawyer he asked uietlyI said soHe laughed bitterly So was Robert Aske When you see him again think on what even lawyers may come toWords Sir Edward words Radwinter said as I went out past him The gaoler locked the door and I followed him back downstairs In his room the gaoler stood and faced me his eyes cold and his expression seriousI wanted you to see that he is dangerous for all he may look helplessThen why provoke him To show you But I will have the physician fetchedPlease do Whatever he has done that man is to be treated as well as safety allows And you should call him Sir Edwardhe is still entitled to the courtesySafety means he should be kept in no doubt who is master You do not know what he is capable ofVery little chained to a wallRadwinters mouth set in a line as hard as a knife blade He stepped forward so his face was close to mine His eyes seemed to bore into meI saw your sympathy for him he said The softness in your face That worries me with a man as dangerous as thatI took a deep breath for it was true that there was something about people being kept in cells that revolted meI have struck a nerve I see Radwinter smiled softly Then let me strike another I distrust that sympathy in you sir Perhaps those who seem outcasts resonate in your soul Perhaps because of the condition of your backMy mouth tightened at the insult at the same time as my stomach lurched in recognition that again he spoke trueHe nodded I am the one responsible for keeping Broderick secure and for getting him back to London There are those in this city who know he is here and would free him if they could so I must study and scrutinize all those I meet look as far as I can into their souls Even yours sirI stared into those cold eyes Get him his physician I said curtly I will come again tomorrow to see how he progressesHe stared back a moment longer then gave that little incline of his head At what time When I choose I answered then turned and left the roomOUTSIDE BARAK WAS sitting on a bench watching the comings and goings at the courthouse A chill autumnal wind had risen bringingleaves tumbling from the trees He looked at me curiouslyAre you all right he asked I must have looked as drained as I feltI shook my head I dont know which man is the worse I said It seemed the gaoler yetI dont know I looked to where Askes skeleton dangled The breeze made it swing a little to and fro as though the dead white bones were struggling to be freeChapter FourA GUARD TOLD US THAT to reach St Marys Abbey we should follow a street called Coneygate This was another narrow lane full of busy shops and again we proceeded at a snails pace I noted a number of even narrower alleyways leading off perhaps to suares and courts behind I felt hemmed in by the cityAs we passed a large inn I saw a group of young men in colourful slashed doublets standing in the doorway flanked by watchful servants looking out over the crowd as they drank wine from leather bottles One a tall handsome young fellow with a dark beard was pointing out members of the citizenry and laughing at their poor clothes The evil looks he received made him laugh all the louder The advance guard of the Great Progress I thought these gentlemen should take better careI thought about Radwinter and Broderick Gaoler and prisoner ice and fire It was clear Radwinter visited whatever petty torments he could on Broderick to keep him down and probably for his own enjoyment too Such treatment could be dangerous Sir Edward might be young but he was a gentleman unused to privation That burn on his chest could turn bad I hoped there were good medical men in York I wished my old friend Guy was with me But Guy was far away working as an apothecary in LondonI could not help being troubled anew by Sir Edwards accusation that I was keeping him safe for the torturers He was right And yet for all his brave defiant words Sir Edward had begged Radwinter for something to drink And I had been able to order it broughtI remembered too Radwinters remark about my condition making me sympathetic to poor outcasts How he could see into a man Did he use such skills to delve into the minds of the heretics in Cranmers gaol at the top of the Lollards Tower But he was right sympathy for Broderick could cloud my judgement I recalled the prisoners sudden furious lunge at the gaoler and thought again what has he done that he must be kept sealed away like a plague carrier Outside a candlemakers shop I saw a plump choleric looking man in a red robe and broad brimmed red hat a gold chain of office round his neck inspecting a box of candles The mayor I thought The candlemaker his apron spotted with grease looked on anxiously as the mayor lifted a fat yellow candle from the box and inspected it closely Three black robed officials stood by one carrying a gold maceItll do I suppose the mayor said Make sure only the finest beeswax goes to St Marys He nodded and the group passed on to the next shopDoing his rounds I said to Barak Making sure everything is in order for when the Progress arrives And I broke off with a start at the sound of a screamA young woman standing at the mouth of one of the narrow alleys was clutching a large basket struggling to keep it from the grip of a ragged youth with a large wart on his nose who was trying to pull it from her I saw it was the girl who had winked at Barak earlier Another churl a fair haired boy with a broken nose held her round the waist Barak threw me Sukeys reins and leaped from his horse drawing his sword A couple of passers by stepped back hastilyLeave her you arseholes Barak shouted The two youths at once let go turned and ran pell mell up the alley Barak made to follow but the girl seized his armNo sir no Stay with me please these are for ueen CatherineBarak sheathed his sword smiling at her Youre all right now mistressI dismounted carefully keeping hold of both horses reins Genesis shifted his hooves uneasilyWhat happened I asked her What do you mean your basket is for the ueen She turned to me her cornflower blue eyes wide I am a servant in the ueens privy kitchen sir I was sent to buy some of the things the ueen likes I looked in the basket There were sticks of cinnamon almonds and pieces of root ginger The girl gave a little curtsey My name is Tamasin sir Tamasin Reedbourne I noted she had a London accent and it struck me her fustian dress was expensive wear for a kitchenmaidAre you all right mistress Barak asked Those knaves looked as though theyd pull your pretty arms from their socketsShe smiled showing white teeth and a pair of pretty dimples I wouldnt let go When the ueen arrives her lodgings are to be filled with her favourite doucets all made from ingredients bought here in York She looked between us Are you here to meet the Progress sirs Ay I gave a little bow I am a lawyer Master Shardlake This is my assistant Jack BarakBarak doffed his cap and the girl smiled at him again a little couettishly now You are brave sir I noticed you earlier did I not You know you gave me a pretty smileYou had a bodyservant in Kings livery with you then I saidAy sir But Master Tanner wished to buy a piece of cloth and I gave him leave to go into that shop She shook her head It was foolish sir was it not I forgot what a barbarous place this isIs that him I asked pointing to a thin faced young man wearing the Kings badge who had just left a shop on the other side of the road I recognized him from that morning He crossed to where we stood hand on his sword hiltMistress Reedbourne he asked nervously What is the matter Well may you ask Tanner While you were choosing cloth for your new doublet two youths tried to steal the ueens dainties This man rescued me She smiled again at BarakMaster Tanner cast his eyes to the ground Genesis pulled at the reinsWe must go I said We are due at St Marys Come Barak they will be waiting like everyone else to tell us we were expected yesterday I settled matters by bowing to Mistress Reedbourne She curtsied againI am lodged at St Marys too she said sweetly Perhaps I shall see you againI hope so Barak replaced his cap then winked making the girl turn scarlet We rode offThat was a bit of excitement he said cheerfully Not that there was any danger they were just ragamuffin lads Must have thought there was something valuable in that basketYou did well I smiled sardonically Rescuing the ueens doucetsThe girls a little doucet herself Id not mind a game of hotcockles with herWhen historical fiction clicks there s nothinggrippingand CJ Sansom s fantastic Sovereign left me positively baying forIt s that good Rebellion plots torture fanaticism a murder mystery and a real historical scandal come alive in this deeply satisfying novel Deirdre Donahue USA Today Authors of the caliber of P D James Ruth Rendell Ian Rankin and Minette Walters remain rare C J Sansom s Sovereigndeserves as wide a readership as any of the above It s deeper stronger and subtler than most novels in the genre The Sunday Independent London.
FREE READ ☆ SABLEYES.CO.UK · C J Sansom
PENGUIN BOOKSSOVEREIGNAfter a career as an attorney C J Sansom now writes full time Dissolution which P D James picked as one of her five favorite mysteries in The Wall Street Journal Dark Fire winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award Sovereign and Revelation a USA Today Best Book of the Year for are all available from Penguin Heartstone the fifth book in the Shardlake series is now available from Viking Sansom is also the author of the international bestseller Winter in Madrid a novel set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War also available from Penguin A number one bestseller his books have been sold in twenty five countries Sansom lives in Brighton EnglandPraise for SovereignWhen historical fiction clicks theres nothinggrippingand C J Sansoms fantastic Sovereign left me positively baying forIts that goodRebellion plots torture fanaticism a murder mystery and a real historical scandal come alive in this deeply satisfying novelDeirdre Donahue USA TodayEven if heart pounding suspense and stomach tightening tension were all Sansoms writing brought to the table few would feel short changed Added to these gifts is a superb approximation of the crucible of fear treachery and mistrust that was Tudor England A parchment turner and a regal one at that Sunday Times LondonSovereign following Dissolution and Dark Fire is the best so farSansom has the perfect mixture of novelistic passion and historical detailAntonia Fraser Sunday Telegraph London Here is a world where life is short and brutal Crows pick at the rotting corpses of felons left to dangle gibbets as a warning to others Religious persecution and political conspiracy are everywhere and trust in anyone is a dangerous assumption The foul smelling festering ulcer on the leg of the now grossly obese king in Sansoms melancholy vision is an emblem of the larger cancer eating into the body of the politic of EnglandDesmond Ryan The Philadelphia InuirerThe best detective story Ive read since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd a devilishly ingenious whodunitSansoms description of the brutality of Tudor life is strong stuffHe is a master storyteller The Guardian LondonDissolution by C J Sansom was an impressive start to a historical fiction series featuring stubborn admirable Tudor lawyer Matthew Shardlake Sovereign is the third outing and this series just gets better and better once again testing problems for Shardlake are backed by some wonderful research The BooksellerThis is an atmospheric thriller where velvet and silk hide putrescence and beyond the grandeur of a Court lies a world where people rot alive or choke in deep mud Sansom does a nice line in irony and savage humour as well as the simple affections which keep people going in nightmarish timesRoz Kaveney Time Out London The skill with which C J Sansom is able to conjure up the sights smells and sounds of Tudor England is unrivalled Sovereign is without doubt the best book Ive read so far this year In fact its a real treasureEmma Pinch The Birmingham PostBoth marvelously exciting to read and a totally convincing evocation of England in the reign of Henry VIII The Spectator About the Author and Praise for Sovereign Maps Title Page Copyright DedicationChapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter FourteenChapter FifteenChapter SixteenChapter SeventeenChapter EighteenChapter NineteenChapter TwentyChapter Twenty oneChapter Twenty twoChapter Twenty threeChapter Twenty fourChapter Twenty fiveChapter Twenty sixChapter Twenty sevenChapter Twenty eightChapter Twenty nineChapter ThirtyChapter Thirty oneChapter Thirty twoChapter Thirty threeChapter Thirty fourChapter Thirty fiveChapter Thirty sixChapter Thirty sevenChapter Thirty eightChapter Thirty nineChapter FortyChapter Forty oneChapter Forty twoChapter Forty threeChapter Forty fourChapter Forty fiveChapter Forty sixChapter Forty sevenChapter Forty eightEpilogue Historical Note Acknowledgements Select BibliographyChapter OneIT WAS DARK UNDER the trees only a little moonlight penetrating the half bare branches The ground was thick with fallen leaves the horses hooves made little sound and it was hard to tell whether we were still on the road A wretched track Barak had called it earlier grumbling yet again about the wildness of this barbarian land I had brought him to I had not replied for I was bone tired my poor back sore and my legs in their heavy riding boots as stiff as boards I was worried too for the strange mission that now lay close ahead was weighing on my mind I lifted a hand from the reins and felt in my coat pocket for the Archbishops seal fingering it like a talisman and remembering Cranmers promise This will be safe enough there will be no dangerI had left much care behind me as well for six days before I had buried my father in Lichfield Barak and I had had five days hard riding northwards since then the roads in a bad state after that wet summer of We rode into wild country where many villages still consisted of the old longhouses people and cattle crammed together in hovels of thatch and sod We left the Great North Road that afternoon at Flaxby Barak wanted to rest the night at an inn but I insisted we ride on even if it took all night I reminded him we were late tomorrow would be the twelfth of September and we must reach our destination well before the King arrivedThe road though had soon turned to mud and as night fell we had left it for a drier track that veered to the northeast through thick woodland and bare fields where pigs rooted among the patches of yellow stubbleThe woodland turned to forest and for hours now we had been picking our way through it We lost the main track once and it was the Devils own job to find it again in the dark All was silent save for the whisper of fallen leaves and an occasional clatter of brushwood as a boar or wildcat fled from us The horses laden with panniers containing our clothes and other necessities were as exhausted as Barak and I I could feel Genesis tiredness and Sukey Baraks normally energetic mare was content to follow his slow paceWere lost he grumbledThey said at the inn to follow the main path south through the forest Anyway it must be daylight soon I said Then well see where we areBarak grunted wearily Feels like weve ridden to Scotland I wouldnt be surprised if we get taken for ransom I did not reply tired at his complaining and we plodded on silentlyMy mind went back to my fathers funeral the week before The little group of people round the grave the coffin lowered into the earth My cousin Bess who had found him dead in his bed when she brought him a parcel of foodI wish I had known how ill he was I told her when we returned to the farm afterwards It should have been me that looked after himShe shook her head wearily You were far away in London and wed not seen you for over a year Her eyes had an accusing lookI have had difficult times of my own Bess But I would have comeShe sighed It was old William Poer dying last autumn undid him Theyd wrestled to get a profit from the farm these last few years and he seemed to give up She paused I said he should contact you but he wouldnt God sends us hard trials The droughts last summer now the floods this year I think he was ashamed of the money troubles hed got into Then the fever took himI nodded It had been a shock to learn that the farm where I had grown up and which now was mine was deep in debt My father had been near seventy his steward William not much younger Their care of the land had not been all it should and the last few harvests had been poor To get by he had taken a mortgage on the farm with a rich landowner in Lichfield The first I knew of it was when the mortgagee wrote to me immediately after Fathers death to say he doubted the value of the land would clear the debt Like many gentry in those days he was seeking to increase his acreage for sheep and granting mortgages to elderly farmers at exorbitant interest was one way of doing itThat bloodsucker Sir Henry I said bitterly to BessWhat will you do Let the estate go insolvent No I said I wont disgrace Fathers name Ill pay it I thought God knows I owe him thatThat is goodI came to with a start at the sound of a protesting whicker behind me Barak had pulled on Sukeys reins bringing her to a stop I halted too and turned uncomfortably in the saddle His outline and that of the trees were sharper now it was beginning to get light He pointed in front of him Look there Ahead the trees were thinning In the distance I saw a red point of light low in the skyThere I said triumphantly The lamp we were told to look out for thats set atop a church steeple to guide travellers This is the Galtres Forest like I said We rode out of the trees A cold wind blew up from the river as the sky lightened We wrapped our coats tighter round us and rode down towards YorkE MAIN ROAD into the city was already filled with packhorses and carts loaded with food of every kind There were enormous foresters carts too whole tree trunks dangling dangerously over their tails Ahead the high city walls came into view black with the smoke of hundreds of years and beyond were the steeples of innumerable churches all dominated by the soaring twin towers of York Minster Its busy as Cheapside on a market day I observedAll for the Kings great retinueWe rode slowly on the throng so dense we scarce managed a walking pace I cast sidelong glances at my companion It was over a year now since I had taken Jack Barak on as assistant in my barristers practice after his old masters execution A former child of the London streets who had ended up working on dubious missions for Thomas Cromwell he was an unlikely choice even though he was clever and had the good fortune to be literate Yet I had not regretted it He had adjusted well to working for me doggedly learning the law No one was better at keeping witnesses to the point while preparing affidavits or ferreting out obscure facts and his cynical slantwise view of the system was a useful corrective to my own enthusiasmThese last few months however Barak had often seemed downcast and sometimes would forget his place and become as oafish and mocking as when I had first met him I feared he might be getting bored and thought bringing him to York might rouse him out of himself He was though full of a Londoners prejudices against the north and northerners and had complained and griped almost the whole way Now he was looking dubiously around him suspicious of everythingHouses appeared straggling along the road and then to our right a high old crenellated wall over which an enormous steeple was visible Soldiers patrolled the top of the wall wearing iron helmets and the white tunics with a red cross of royal longbowmen Instead of bows and arrows though they carried swords and fearsome pikes and some even bore long matchlock guns A great sound of banging and hammering came from withinThat must be the old St Marys Abbey where well be staying I said Sounds like theres a lot of work going on to make it ready for the KingShall we go there now leave our bags No we should see Brother Wrenne first then go to the castleTo see the prisoner he asked uietlyAyBarak looked up at the walls St Marys is guarded wellThe King will be none too sure of his welcome after all thats happened up hereI had spoken softly but the man in front of us walking beside a packhorse laden with grain turned and gave us a sharp look Barak raised his eyebrows and he looked away I wondered if he was one of the Council of the Norths informers they would be working overtime in York nowPerhaps you should put on your lawyers robe Barak suggested nodding ahead The carts and packmen were turning into the abbey through a large gate in the wall Just past the gate the abbey wall met the city wall at right angles hard by a fortress like gatehouse decorated with the York coat of arms five white lions against a red background More guards were posted there holding pikes and wearing steel helmets and breastplates Beyond the wall the Minster towers were huge now against the grey skyIm not fetching it out of my pack Im too tired I patted my coat pocket Ive got the Chamberlains authority here Archbishop Cranmers seal was there too but that was only to be shown to one person I stared ahead at something I had been told to expect yet which still made me shudder four heads fixed to tall poles boiled and black and half eaten by crows I knew that twelve of the rebel conspirators arrested that spring had been executed in York their heads and uarters set on all the city gates as a warning to othersWe halted at the end of a little ueue the horses heads drooping with tiredness The guards had stopped a poorly dressed man and were uestioning him roughly about his business in the cityI wish hed hurry up Barak whispered Im starvingI know Come on its us nextOne of the guards grabbed Genesis reins while another asked my business He had a southern accent and a hard lined face I showed him my letter of authority Kings lawyer he askedAy And my assistant Here to help with the pleas before His MajestyIts a firm hand they need up here he said He rolled the paper up and waved us on As we rode under the barbican I recoiled from the sight of a great hank of flesh nailed to the gate buzzing with fliesRebels meat Barak said with a grimaceAy I shook my head at the tangles of fate But for the conspiracy that spring I should not be here and nor would the King be making his Progress to the North the largest and most splendid ever seen in England We rode under the gate the horses hooves making a sudden clatter inside the enclosed barbican and through into the cityYOND THE GATE was a narrow street of three storey houses with overhanging eaves full of shops with stalls set out in front the traders sitting on their wooden blocks calling their wares York struck me as a poor place Some of the houses were in serious disrepair black timbers showing through where plaster had fallen off and the street was littlethan a muddy lane The jostling crowds made riding difficult but I knew Master Wrenne like all the citys senior lawyers lived in the Minster Close and it was easy to find for the Minster dominated the whole cityIm hungry Barak observed Lets get some breakfastAnother high wall appeared ahead of us York seemed a city of walls Behind it the Minster loomed Ahead was a large open space crowded with market stalls under brightly striped awnings that flapped in the cool damp breeze Heavy skirted goodwives argued with stallholders while artisans in the bright livery of their guilds looked down their noses at the stalls contents and dogs and ragged children dived for scraps I saw most of the people had patched clothes and worn looking clogs Watchmen in livery bearing the city arms stood about observing the crowdsA group of tall yellow haired men with dogs led a flock of odd looking sheep with black faces round the edge of the market I looked curiously at their weather beaten faces and heavy woollen coats these must be the legendary Dalesmen who had formed the backbone of the rebellion five years before In contrast black robed clerics and chantry priests in their brown hoods were passing in and out of a gate in the wall that led into the Minster precinctBarak had ridden to a pie stall a few paces off He leaned from his horse and asked how much for two mutton pies The stallholder stared at him not understanding his London accentSouthrons he gruntedAy Were hungry How muchfortwomutton pies Barak spoke loudly and slowly as though to an idiotThe stallholder glared at him Ist my blame tha gabblest like a duck he askedTis you that grates your words like a knife scrating a panTwo big Dalesmen passing along the stalls paused and looked round This southron dog giving thee trouble one asked the trader The other reached out a big horny hand to Sukeys reinsLet go churl Barak said threateninglyI was surprised by the anger that came into the mans face Cocky southron knave Tha thinkest since fat Harry is coming tha can insult us as tha likestKiss my arse Barak said looking at the man steadilyThe Dalesman reached a hand to his sword Baraks hand darted to his own scabbard I forced a way through the crowdExcuse us sir I said soothingly though my heart beat fast My man meant no harm Weve had a hard rideThe man gave me a look of disgust A crookback lord eh Come here on tha fine hoss to cozen us out of what little money we have left up here He began to draw his sword then stopped as a pike was jabbed into his chest Two of the city guards scenting trouble had hurried overSwords away one snapped his pike held over the Dalesmans heart while the other did the same to Barak A crowd began to gatherWhats this hubbleshoo the guard snappedThat southron insulted the stallholder someone calledThe guard nodded He was stocky middle aged with sharp eyes Theyve no manners the southrons he said loudly Got to expect that maister There was a laugh from the crowd a bystander clappedWe only want a couple of bleeding pies Barak saidThe guard nodded at the stallholder Gie him two piesThe man handed two mutton pies up to Barak A tanner he saidA what The stallholder raised his eyes to heaven SixpenceFor two pies Barak asked incredulouslyPay him the guard snapped Barak hesitated and I hastily passed over the coins The stallholder bit them ostentatiously before slipping them in his purse The guard leaned close to me Now sir shift And tell thy man to watch his manners Tha doesnt want trouble fort Kings visit hey He raised his eyebrows and watched as Barak and I rode back to the gates to the precinct We dismounted stiffly at a bench set against the wall tied up the horses and sat downGods nails my legs are sore Barak saidMine too They felt as though they did not belong to me and my back ached horriblyBarak bit into the pie This is good he said in tones of surpriseI lowered my voice You must watch what you say You know they dont like us up hereThe feelings mutual Arseholes He glared threateningly in the direction of the stallholderListen I said uietly Theyre trying to keep everything calm If you treat people like you did those folk you dont just risk a sword in the guts for both of us but trouble for the Progress Is that what you want He did not reply frowning at his feetWhats the matter with you these days I asked Youve been Tom Touchy for weeks You used to be able to keep that sharp tongue of yours in check You got me in trouble last month calling Judge Jackson a blear eyed old caterpillar within his hearingHe gave me one of his sudden wicked grins You know he isI was not to be laughed off Whats amiss Jack He shrugged Nothing I just dont like being up here among these barbarian wantwits He looked at me directly Im sorry I made trouble Ill take careApologies did not come easily to Barak and I nodded in acknowledgement But there wasto his mood than dislike of the north I was sure I turned thoughtfully to my pie Barak looked over the marketplace with his sharp dark eyes Theyre a poor looking lot he observedTrades been bad here for years And the dissolution of the monasteries has made things worse There was a lot of monkish property here Three or four years ago there would have been many monks and friars robes among that crowdWell thats all done with Barak finished his pie rubbing a hand across his mouthI rose stiffly Lets find Wrenne Get our instructionsDyou think well get to see the King when he comes Barak asked Close to Its possibleHe blew out his cheeks I was glad to see I was not the only one intimidated by that prospect And there is an old enemy in his train I added that wed better avoidHe turned sharply Who Sir Richard Rich Hell be arriving with the King and the Privy Council Cranmer told me So like I said take care Dont draw attention to us We should try to escape notice so far as we canWe untied the horses and led them to the gate where another guard with a pike barred our way I produced my letter again and he raised the weapon to let us pass through The great Minster reared up before usChapter TwoITS BIG ENOUGH Barak saidWe were in a wide paved enclosure with buildings round the edges all overshadowed by the Minster The greatest building in the north It must be near as big as St Pauls I looked at the giant entrance doors under the intricately decorated Gothic arch where men of business stood talking Below them on the stairs a crowd of beggars sat with their alms bowls I was tempted to look inside but turned away for we should have been at Wrennes house yesterday I remembered the directions I had been given and noted a building with the royal arms above the door Its just past there I said We led the horses across the courtyard careful not to slip on the leaves that had fallen from the trees planted round the closeDyou know what manner of man this Wrenne is Barak askedOnly that hes a well known barrister in York and has done much official work Hes well stricken in years I believeLets hope hes not some old nid nod thats beyond the workHe must be competent to be organizing the pleas to the King Trusted tooWe walked the horses into a street of old houses packed closely together I had been told to seek the corner house on the right and this proved to be a tall building very ancient looking I knocked Shuffling footsteps sounded within and the door was opened by an aged dame with a round wrinkled face framed by a white coif She looked at me sourlyAy Master Wrennes house Art gentlemen from London I raised my eyebrows a little at her lack of deference Yes I am Matthew Shardlake This is my assistant Master BarakWe expected thee yesterday Poor maisters been frettingWe got lost in Galtres ForestThas not tfirst to do thatI nodded at the horses We and our mounts are tiredBone weary Barak added pointedlyThad best come in then Ill get the boy to stable thy horses and wash them downI should be gratefulMaister Wrennes out on business but hell be back soon I suppose thad like some foodThank you The pie had merely taken the edge from my hungerThe old woman turned and shuffling slowly led us into a high central hall built in the old style with a hearth in the centre of the floor A fire of coppice wood was lit and smoke ascended lazily to the chimney hole high in the black rafters Good silver plate was displayed on the buffet but the curtain behind the table that stood on a dais at the head of the room looked dusty A peregrine falcon with magnificent grey plumage stood on a perch near the fire It turned huge predatory eyes on us as I stared at the piles of books that lay everywhere on chairs on the oak chest and set against the walls in stacks that looked ready to topple over I had never seen so many books in one place outside a libraryYour master is fond of books I observedThat he is the old woman answered Ill get tha some pottage She shuffled awaySome beer would be welcome as well I called after her Barak plumped down on a settle covered with a thick sheepskin rug and cushions I picked up a large old volume bound in calfskin I opened it then raised my eyebrows Gods nails This is one of the old hand illustrated books the monks made I flicked through the pages It was a copy of Bedes History with beautiful calligraphy and illustrationsI thought theyd all gone to the fire Barak observed He should be carefulYes he should Not a reformer then I replaced the book coughing as a little cloud of dust rose up Jesu that housekeeper skimps her laboursLooks like shes past it to me But maybe shesthan a housekeeper if hes old too Dont think much of his taste if she is Barak settled himself on the cushions and closed his eyes I sat down in an armchair and tried to arrange my stiff legs comfortably I felt my own eyes closing coming to with a start as the old woman reappeared bearing two bowls of steaming pease pottage and two flagons of beer on a tray We set to eagerly The pottage was tasteless and unspiced but filling Afterwards Barak closed his eyes again I thought of nudging him awake for it was ill mannered to go to sleep in our hosts hall but I knew how tired he was It was peaceful there the noise from the close muffled by the windows of mullioned glass the fire crackling gently I closed my eyes too My hand brushed the pocket where Archbishop Cranmers seal lay and I found myself thinking back a couple of weeks to when the trail of events that had led me here beganE LAST YEAR HAD BEEN a difficult time for me Since Thomas Cromwells fall those associated with him could be dangerous to know and a number of clients had withdrawn their work And I had gone against convention by representing the London Guildhall in a case against a fellow barrister of Lincolns Inn Stephen Bealknap may have been one of the greatest rogues God ever set on earth but I had still offended against professional solidarity in acting against him and some fellow barristers who might once have put cases my way now avoided me Things were not made easier by the fact that Bealknap had one of the most powerful patrons in the land behind him Sir Richard Rich Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations Then at the beginning of September had come the news of my fathers death I was still in a state of shock and grief when going into chambers one morning a few days later I found Barak waiting for me a worried expression on his faceSir I must speak with you He glanced at my clerk Skelly who sat copying his glasses glinting in the light from the window then jerked his head towards my office I noddedA messenger came while you were out he said when the door was closed behind us From Lambeth Palace Archbishop Cranmer himself wants t.
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O see you there at eight tonightI sat down heavily I thought I was done with visits to great men I looked at Barak sharply for our assignment for Cromwell the year before had made us some powerful enemies Could it mean danger for us Have you heard any gossip I knew he still had contacts in the underside of the Kings courtHe shook his head Nothing since I was told we were safeI sighed deeply Well then I shall have to seeThat day it was hard to keep my mind on my work I left early to go home for dinner As I walked towards the gate I saw coming in a tall thin figure in a fine silk robe blond curls peeping out from under his cap Stephen Bealknap The most crooked and covetous lawyer I ever met He bowed to meBrother Bealknap I said politely as the conventions of the inn demandedBrother Shardlake I hear there is no date for the hearing of our case in Chancery They are so slow He shook his head though I knew he welcomed the delay The case involved a little dissolved friary he had bought near the Cripplegate He had converted it into tumbledown tenements without proper sewage arrangements causing great nuisance to his neighbours The case turned on whether he was entitled to rely on the monasterys exemption from City Council regulations He was backed by Richard Rich as Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations that handled the property of the dissolved monasteries because if he lost the case the sale value of those properties would fallThe Six Clerks Office seems unable to explain the delays I told Bealknap I had sent Barak who could be intimidating when he chose to harangue them several times but without result Perhaps your friend Richard Rich may know I immediately wished I had not said that for I was effectively accusing the Chancellor of Augmentations of corruption The slip showed the strain I was underBealknap shook his head You are a naughty fellow Brother Shardlake to allege such things What would the Inn Treasurer say I bit my lip I am sorry I withdrawBealknap grinned broadly showing nasty yellow teeth I forgive you brother When one has poor prospects in a case sometimes the worry of it makes you forget what you say He bowed and walked on I looked after him wishing I could have planted a foot in his bony arseTER DINNER I DONNED my lawyers robe and took a wherry across the river and down to Lambeth Palace London was uiet as it had been all summer for the King and his court were in the north of England In the spring news had come of a fresh rebellion nipped in the bud in Yorkshire and the King had decided to take a great progress up to awe the northmen They said he and his councillors had been sore alarmed As well they might be five years before the whole north of England had risen in rebellion against the religious changes and the Pilgrimage of Grace as the rebel army had called itself had raised thirty thousand men The King had gulled them into disbanding with false promises then raised an army to strike them down But all feared the north might rise againThroughout June the Kings purveyors had roamed all London clearing shops and warehouses of food and other supplies for they said three thousand people would be going north It was hard to comprehend such numbers the population of a small town When they left at the end of June it was said the carts stretched along the road for over a mile and London had been strangely uiet all through that wet summerThe boatman pulled past the Lollards Tower at the north end of Lambeth Palace and in the failing daylight I saw a light shining from the window of the prison atop the tower where heretics in the Archbishops custody were held Cranmers eye on London some called it We pulled up at the Great Stairs A guard admitted me and led me across the courtyard to the Great Hall where he left me aloneI stood staring up at the magnificent hammerbeam roof A black robed clerk approached soft footed The Archbishop will see you now he said uietly He led me into a warren of dim corridors his footsteps pattering lightly on the rush mattingI was taken to a small low ceilinged study Thomas Cranmer sat behind a desk reading papers by the light of a sconce of candles set beside him A fire burned energetically in the grate I bowed deeply before the great Archbishop who had renounced the Popes authority married the King to Anne Boleyn and been Thomas Cromwells friend and confederate in every reforming scheme When Cromwell fell many had expected Cranmer to go to the block too but he had survived despite the halt to reform Henry had placed him in charge in London while he was away It was said the King trusted him as no otherIn a deep uiet voice he bade me sit I had only seen him at a distance before preaching He wore a white clerical robe with a fur stole but had cast off his cap revealing a shock of greying black hair I noticed the pallor of his broad oval face the lines around the full mouth but above all his eyes They were large dark blue As he studied me I read anxiety there and conflict and passionSo you are Matthew Shardlake he said He smiled pleasantly seeking to put me at easeMy lord ArchbishopI took a hard chair facing him A large pectoral cross solid silver glinted on his chestHow goes trade at Lincolns Inn he askedI hesitated It has been betterTimes are hard for those who worked for Earl CromwellYes my lord I said cautiouslyI wish they would take his head from London Bridge I see it each time I cross What the gulls have leftIt is a sad thing to seeI visited him you know in the Tower I confessed him He told me of that last matter he engaged you inMy eyes widened and I felt a chill despite the heat from the fire So Cranmer knew about thatI told the King about the Dark Fire uest Some months ago I caught my breath but Cranmer smiled and raised a beringed hand I waited until his anger against Lord Cromwell over the Cleves marriage faded and hed begun to miss his counsel Those responsible for what happened walk on eggshells now though they denied they were behind it they dissembled and liedA chilling thought came to me My lorddoes the King know of my involvement He shook his head reassuringly Lord Cromwell asked me not to tell the King he knew you had served him as well as you could and that you preferred to stay a private manSo he had thought of me kindly at the end that harsh great man facing a savage death I felt sudden tears prick at the corners of my eyesHe had many fine ualities Master Shardlake for all his hard measures I told the King only that servants of Lord Cromwells had been involved His Majesty left matters there though he was angry with those who had deceived him He told the Duke of Norfolk not long ago he wished he had Lord Cromwell back said hed been tricked into executing the greatest servant he ever had As he was Cranmer looked at me seriously Lord Cromwell said you were a man of rare discretion good at keeping even the greatest matters secretThat is part of my tradeHe smiled In that hotbed of gossip the Inns of Court No the Earl said your discretion was of rare ualityThen I realized with a jolt that Cromwell in the Tower had been telling Cranmer about people who might be of use to himI was sorry to hear your father died the Archbishop saidMy eyes widened How had he known that He caught my look and smiled sadly I asked the Inn Treasurer if you were in London and he told me I wished to speak to you you see May God rest your fathers soulAmen my lordHe lived in Lichfield I believe Yes I must leave for there in two days for the funeralThe King is well north of there now At Hatfield The Great Progress has had a hard time of it with all the rains in July The post riders were delayed often ascertaining the Kings wishes was not easy He shook his head a strained expression crossing his features They said Cranmer was no skilful politicianIt has been a poor summer I observed As wet as last years was dryThank God it has lately improved It made the ueen illPeople say she is pregnant I venturedThe Archbishop frowned Rumours he said He paused a moment as though gathering his thoughts then continued As you may know there are several lawyers with the royal train This is the greatest Progress ever seen in England and lawyers are needed so that disputes that arise within the royal court and with suppliers along the way may be resolved He took a deep breath Also the King has promised the northmen his justice At every town he invites petitioners with complaints against the local officialdom and lawyers are needed to sort through them weed out the petty and the foolish arbitrate where they can and send the rest to the Council of the North One of the Kings lawyers has died poor fellow he took pneumonia The Chamberlains office sent a message asking the Council to send a replacement to meet the Progress at York for there will be much business there I remembered youOh This was not what I had expected this was a favourAnd if you are going halfway there already so much the better Youd return with the Progress next month and bring back fifty pounds for your work Youd only be allowed one servant best to take your assistant rather than a bodyservantThat was generous even for the high rewards royal service brought Yet I hesitated for I had no wish to go anywhere near the Kings court again I took a deep breathMy lord I hear Sir Richard Rich is with the ProgressAh yes You made an enemy of Rich over the Dark Fire matterAnd I am still involved in a case in which he has an interest Rich would do me any ill turn he couldThe Archbishop shook his head You need have no dealings with Rich or any royal councillor He is there in his role as Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations to advise the King on the disposition of lands seized in Yorkshire from the rebels Neither the councillors nor the King have any real involvement with the petitionsthe lawyers deal with everythingI hesitated This would solve my financial worries ensure I could discharge my responsibility to my father Moreover something stirred in me at the prospect of seeing this great spectacle it would be the journey of a lifetime And it might distract me from my sorrowThe Archbishop inclined his head Be uick Master Shardlake I have little timeI will go my lord I said Thank youThe Archbishop nodded Good Then he leaned forward the heavy sleeves of his tunic rustling as they brushed the papers on his desk I also have a small private mission he said Something I would like you to do for me in YorkI caught my breath I had let him spring a trap He was a good politician after allThe Archbishop saw my expression and shook his head Do not worry sir There is no scurrying after danger in this and the mission itself is a virtuous one It reuires only a certain authority of manner and above all he looked at me sharplydiscretionI set my lips Cranmer made a steeple of his fingers and looked at meYou know the purpose of the Great Progress to the North he askedTo show the Kings power in those rebellious parts establish his authorityThey say the north is the last place God made Cranmer said with sudden anger They are a barbarous people there still mired in papist heresyI nodded but said nothing waiting for him to show his handLord Cromwell established forceful government in the north after the rebellion five years ago The new Council of the North employs many spies and it is as well they do for the new conspiracy they discovered last spring was serious He stared at me with those passionate eyes Last time they called only for the King to rid himself of reformist advisersLike you I thought they would have had Cranmer in the fireThis time they called him tyrant they wanted to overthrow him And they planned an alliance with the Scotch though the northmen have always hated them as even worse barbarians than themselves But the Scotch like them are papists Had their plan not been exposed Jesu knows what might have followedI took a deep breath He was telling me secrets I did not wish to hear Secrets that would bind me to himNot all the conspirators were caught Many escaped to the wild mountains up there There is still much we have to learn about their plans There is a certain conspirator of York recently taken prisoner there who is to be brought back to London by boat Sir Edward Broderick Cranmer set his lips tight and for a moment I saw fear in his faceThere is an aspect of the conspirators plans that is not generally known Only a few of the conspirators knew and we believe Broderick was one It is better you do not know about it No one does except the King and a few trusted councillors in London and York Broderick will not talk The King sent uestioners to York but they got nowhere he is obstinate as Satan He is to be brought from York to Hull in a sealed wagon when the Progress moves on there then sent back to London by boat guarded by the most loyal and trusted men The King wants to be in London when he is uestioned and it is safe to uestion him only in the Tower where we can trust the interrogators and be sure their skill will extract the truth from himI knew what that meant Torture I took a deep breath How does this involve me my lord His reply surprised me I want you to ensure he is alive and in good health when he arrivesButwill he not be in the Kings care The Duke of Suffolk is in charge of arrangements for the Progress and he chose Brodericks gaoler A man who can be trusted although even he has not been told what we suspect of Broderick He is in charge of Broderick in the prison at York Castle His name is Fulke RadwinterI do not know that name my lordThe appointment was made hurriedly and I have beenconcerned The Archbishop pursed his lips fiddling with a brass seal on his desk Radwinter has experience of guarding and ofuestioningheretics He is a man of true and honest faith and can be trusted to keep Broderick under close guard He took a deep breath Yet Radwinter can be too severe A prisoner oncedied He frowned I want someone else present to keep an eye on Brodericks welfare till he can be brought to the TowerI seeI have already written to the Duke of Suffolk obtained his agreement He understands my point I think He picked up the seal and laid it flat on the desk before me A big oval lozenge Cranmers name and office traced in Latin round the edge a portrayal of the scourging of Christ in the centre I want you to take this as your authority You will have overall charge of Brodericks welfare in York and then on to London You will not talk to him beyond asking after his welfare ensuring he comes to no harm Radwinter knows I am sending someone he will respect my authority The Archbishop smiled again that sad smile of his He is my own employee he guards the prisoners under my jurisdiction in the Lollards TowerI understand I said neutrallyIf the prisoner be bound uncomfortably make the fetters looser though no less certain If he is hungry give him food If he is ill ensure he has medical care Cranmer smiled There that is a charitable commission is it not I took a deep breath My lord I said I undertook to go to York only on a matter of pleas before the King My past service on matters of state has cost me much in peace of mind Now I wish to remain as Lord Cromwell said a private man I have seen men die most horriblyThen ensure for me that a man lives Cranmer said uietly and in decent conditions That is all I want and I think you are the man for it I was a private man once Master Shardlake a Cambridge don Until the King plucked me out to advise on the Great Divorce Sometimes God calls us to hard duty Then his look was hard againthen we must find the stomach for itI looked at him If I refused I would no doubt lose my place on the Progress and might be unable to redeem the mortgage on the farm And I had made enemies at court I dared not alienate the Archbishop too I was trapped I took a deep breathVery well my lordHe smiled I will have your commission sent to your house tomorrow To act as counsel on the Progress He picked up the seal and set it in my hand It was heavy And that is my authority to show Radwinter No papersMay I tell my assistant Barak Cranmer nodded Yes I know Lord Cromwell trusted him Though he said neither of you had real zeal for reform He gave me a sudden uesting look Though you did onceI served my apprenticeshipThe Archbishop nodded I know You are one of those who worked in the early days to bring England to religious truth He gave me a keen look The truth that the right head of the Church in England is not the Bishop of Rome but the King set by God above his people as Supreme Head to guide them When the Kings conscience is moved it is God who speaks through himYes my lord I said though I had never believed thatThese conspirators are dangerous and wicked men Harsh measures have been needed I do not like them but they have been forced upon us To protect what we have achieved Though there is muchto be done if we are to build the Christian commonwealth in EnglandThere is indeed my lordHe smiled taking my words for agreement Then go Master Shardlake and may God guide your enterprise He rose in dismissal I bowed my way out of the chamber As I walked away I thought this is no charitable mission I am keeping a man safe for the torturers in the Tower And what had this Broderick done to bring that look of fear to Cranmers eyes MY MUSINGS WERE interrupted by voices outside the room I nudged Barak awake with my foot and we stood up hurriedly wincing for our legs were still stiff The door opened and a man in a rather threadbare lawyers robe came in Master Wrenne was a suare built man very tall overtopping Barak by a head I was relieved to see that although he was indeed elderly his suare face deeply lined he walked steady and straight and the blue eyes under the faded reddish gold hair were keen He gripped my handMaster Shardlake he said in a clear voice with a strong touch of the local accent Or Brother Shardlake I should say my brother in the law Giles Wrenne It is good to see you Why we feared you had met with an accident on the roadI noticed that as he studied me his eyes did not linger over my bent back as most peoples do A man of sensitivity I fear I got us lost May I introduce my assistant Jack BarakBarak bowed then shook Wrennes extended handBy Jesu the old man said Thats a champion grip for a law clerk He clapped him on the shoulder Good to see our young men take too little exercise now So many clerks these days have a pasty look Wrenne looked at the empty plates I see my good Madge has fed you Excellent He moved over to the fire The falcon turned to him a little bell tied to its foot jingling and let him stroke its neck There my old Octavia hast tha kept warm He turned to us with a smile This bird and I have hunted around York through many a winter but we are both too old now Please be seated again I am sorry I cannot accommodate you while you are in the city He eased himself into a chair and looked ruefully at the dusty furniture and books I fear since my poor wife died three years ago I have not kept up her standards of housekeeping A man alone I only keep Madge and a boy and Madge is getting old she could not cater for three But she was my wifes maidSo much for Baraks theory about Madge I thought We have accommodation at St Marys but thank youYes Wrenne smiled and rubbed his hands together And there will be much of interest to see there the Progress in all its glory when it arrives You will want to rest now I suggest you both come here at ten tomorrow morning and we can spend the day working through the petitionsVery well There seems to be much work going on at St Marys I addedThe old man nodded They say any number of wondrous buildings are being erected And that Lucas Hourenbout is there supervising it allHourenbout The Kings Dutch artist Wrenne nodded smiling They say the greatest designer in the land after HolbeinSo he is I did not know he was hereIt seems the place is being prepared for some great ceremony I have not seen it only those with business are allowed into St Marys Some say the ueen is pregnant and is to be crowned here But no one knows He paused Have you heard anything Only the same gossip I remembered Cranmers annoyance when I had mentioned that rumourAh well We Yorkers will be told when it is good for us to knowI looked at Wrenne sharply detecting a note of bitterness under the bluffness Perhaps ueen Catherine will be crowned I said After all shes lasted over a year now I made the remark deliberately I wanted to establish that I was not one of those stiff necked people in the royal employ that would talk of the King only with formal reverenceWrenne smiled and nodded getting the point Well we shall have much work to do on the petitions I am glad of your assistance We have to weed out the silly fratches like the man disputing with the Council of the North over an inch of land whose papers I read yesterday He laughed But you will be familiar with such nonsense brotherIndeed I am Property law is my specialismAh You will regret telling me that sir He winked at Barak For now I shall pass all the property cases to you I shall keep the debts and the feuds with the lesser officialsAre they all such matters I askedFor the most part He raised his eyebrows I have been told the point is that the King must be seen to care for his northern subjects The small matters will be arbitrated by us under the Kings authority the larger remitted to the Kings CouncilHow shall our arbitration be conducted At informal hearings under delegated powers I will be in charge with you and a representative of the Council of the North sitting with me Have you done arbitration work before Yes I have So the King will have no personal involvement with the small matters None He paused But we may meet him nonethelessBarak and I both sat up How sir Wrenne inclined his head All the way from Lincoln at the towns and other places along the road the King has received the local gentry and city councillors in supplication those who were with the rebels five years ago on their knees begging his pardon He seeks to bind them anew with oaths of loyalty Interestingly the orders have been that not too many supplicants were to gather together at once They are still afraid you see There are a thousand soldiers with the Progress and the royal artillery has been sent by boat to HullBut there has been no trouble Wrenne shook his head None But the emphasis is on the most abject forms of surrender The supplication here at York is to be the greatest spectacle of all The city councillors are to meet the King and ueen outside the city on Friday dressed in humble robes and make submission and apology for allowing the rebels to take over York as their capital in The citizenry will not be there because it would be bad for the common folk to see their citys leaders thus humbled Wrenne raised his heavy eyebrowsand in case they might be angered against the King The councillors are to hand presents to Their Majesties great goblets filled with coin There has been a collection among the citizenry He smiled sardonically With some cajoling He took a deep breath And they are talking of us going too the Kings lawyers to present him formally with the petitionsSo well be thrust into the heart of it Despite Cranmers promise I thoughtWe could be Tankerd the city Recorder is in a great lather about the speech he must make The city officials are sending constantly to the Duke of Suffolk to make sure everything is done just as the King would wish He smiled I confess I have a great curiosity to see the King He sets out from Hull tomorrow I believe The Progress spent much longer than planned at Pontefract then went to Hull before York And apparently the King is going back to Hull afterwards he wants to reorganize their fortifications And that I thought is where we put the prisoner in a boatWhen will that be I askedEarly next week I should think The King will only be here a few days Wrenne gave me another of his keen looks Perhaps you will have seen the King before being from LondonI saw him at the procession when Nan Boleyn was crowned But only from a distance I sighed Well if we are to be present at this ceremony it is as well I packed my best robe and new capWrenne nodded Ay He stood up with a slowness that revealed his age Well sir you must be tired after your long journeyyou should find your lodgings and have a good restYes We are tired tis trueBy the way you will hear many strange words here Perhaps the most important thing you should know is that a street is called a gate while a gate is called a barBarak scratched his head I seeWrenne smiled I will have your horses fetchedWe took farewell of the old man and rode again to the gate leading from the Minster CloseWell I said to Barak Master Wrenne seems a good old fellowAy Merry for a lawyer He looked at me Where next I took a deep breath We cannot tarry any longer We must go to the prisonChapter ThreeWE PAUSED OUTSIDE the gates wondering which way to take to York Castle I hailed a yellow haired urchin and offered him a farthing to direct us He looked up at us suspiciouslyShow me thy farthing maisterHere I held up the coin Now lad the castleHe pointed down the road Go down through Shambles Thall know it by smell Cross the suare beyond and thall see Castle TowerI handed him the farthing He waited till we had passed then called Southron heretics after us before disappearing into a lane Some of the passers by smiledNot popular are we Barak saidNo I think anyone from the south is identified with the new religionAll still stiff in papistry then he remarkedAy They dont appreciate this happy time of the gospel I answered sardonically Barak raised his eyebrows He never spoke of his religious opinions but I had long suspe.