The Black Rose Observed
Discovered and Translated by Anthony Hole
From Last Time: Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, has assembled several lords at Harbottle for the purpose of punishing border Scots for recent transgressions. Norfolk suggests to the assembled lords that they might be able to seize the Scottish king.
Chapter the Third,
Wherein we hear the dread drums of battle.
A murmur arose in the hall as the lords discussed what they had just heard. If such a thing could be accomplished, there would be great rewards indeed, yet many lords were not so certain.
One of these lords was Travis Fletcher, the baron of Ferendon. Lord Travis had command of a small body of archers, any of whom was a dangerous man with a longbow. He tugged mindfully at his beard. "How can this be achieved?"
"Lord Fletcher," Thomas grinned, "it is very fortunate that you are here with us, for you and your band are most material to my plan, as you shall see anon."
A servant who had been waiting for the summons stepped forward. He laid a large piece of parchment out on the table in front of the duke. Drawn in bold black ink was a map of the English and Scottish borderland. The Cheviot Hills, which divided the two realms, were clearly marked. Also clearly marked was the town of Roxburgh, fortified and defiant against attack.
"Here, My Lords," Thomas said, stabbing his finger at the town. "Here is where King James will soon go to take his ease, and here is where we shall fox him. We will take him right from under the nose of the Earl of Angus1 himself."
"Is he not strongly guarded?" asked one of the captains.
"Oh, aye, that he is," Thomas replied. "We must take care. For if the Scots perceive that their king is in danger, then we shall have a devil to contend with."
The duke, now certain that he had their attention, continued with his plan. He told them that they must have their men ready for the march by the morrow, and there must be no delay. No one outside of the war council was to know that the purpose of their expedition was to seize the person of King James. Rather, their men were to be led to believe that they were on a raid of reprisal.
They would take the most direct of paths to Roxburgh, and, once there, they would storm the town. Lord Travis Fletcher, with his picked band of men, was to lay hold of the king. That done, they would escape the town, and the English army would make all speed back to England.
Thomas finished and looked around to the faces staring back at him. There was Edmund's half-smile, which showed self-confidence. Other lords looked somewhat like startled harts that had just heard the barking of hunting hounds. Yet, like all men who wanted a position in life, they would decide to risk the adventure.
"Well, my lord?" Thomas asked Lord Travis. "How like you the part I have for you in this plan?"
"It likes me well, Your Grace, save this: how do we enter the town?"
"By diversion, my lord, by diversion. The Scots will have their hands too full with us to notice a small band of men slipping in," Thomas said, stroking his beard.
Thomas had kept some information to himself. Those gathered at the table did not know that the duke received his intelligence from Edmund's own daughter, who had married a courtier in the Scottish king's court. There was no evil intent from his daughter towards King James; the letter she had written to her father was quite innocent. She knew not that Edmund would show the letter to the duke, thus telling him where the Scottish king would take his rest.
The enterprise would be far from simple. Thomas knew that this was his most dangerous conceit yet. If given sufficient warning, the Scots could very well muster a large army from their border counties. One word in the right ear would warn the Scots, and the Earl of Angus would see to it that James would not go near Roxburgh. All of their pains would then be for naught, and the expense would not be worth the adventure. There would, of course, come a steep price for failure. Everyone knew that the loftier the goal, the higher from which one's head may fall.
"My lords," Thomas said at last, "get you to your men. We march ere the morrow."
All the lords, thankful for the fact that the council was dissolved, left the duke and Edmund quite alone. For a moment both men eyed each other, as if each were trying to guess at what the other was thinking. Thomas then sat down on the edge of the wooden table, his face showing no emotion.
"Well?" Thomas began.
"The die is cast, Edmund; we have set it to motion."
"Aye, Your Grace, so it is. May we prevail in our enterprise."
Thomas crouched down by the fireplace, gathering his fur cloak about himself. "'Tis cold, Edmund."
"Let me send for more wood."
"There is a chill in the air that likes me not," Thomas breathed, "and as I am a soldier, and have seen the eve of battle many times, I cannot remember any day that is its like."
"It may grow colder still, Your Grace."
"I think so, Edmund, I think it so." Thomas prodded the fire with an iron poker, as Edmund motioned a servant to fetch more wood. "If Henry finds out our true plan..."
"What if we succeed?" Edmund asked.
"Then, Edmund, we shall have that which will warm us anon."
Edmund smiled, knowing full well what the duke meant. The king would be so happy to have Scotland in his power that there would be no punishment. Henry could then contend for the crown of France and not have Scotland to trouble him 2. Surely there would be rewards: titles and more land, perhaps.
1 Earl of Angus: the tutor to King James. The king wanted to be rid of him and escape from his influence (this is historical fact).
2 Scotland attacked England regularly when England had invaded France, in keeping with their alliance.
(To Be Continued)
Back to Eating, English-Style
Flowers: Beyond Sweet Teas
Far from being mere decorative pieces, flowers are much more important than their appearance would make them seem. Their nutritive qualities are often overlooked, indeed ignored, in favor of their beauty. Few people realize the true nature of the deceptively sweet-seeming flora. In fact, flowers contain many vitamins and minerals. Blue borage contains calcium, potassium, and mineral salts; roses have vitamins B, E, K, and C; nasturtiums provide vitamin C and iron. But do people appreciate what they've got? No. They take flowers for granted. They treat them like pretty objects and refuse to acknowledge their fine inner qualities! Well, flowers are more than just pretty, buddy, and some day you'll find out just how much more...
(Editor's note: Laura? Laura? LAURA! Isn't this article supposed to be about food?)
Ahem... right. As I was saying, flowers are lovely and useful additions to any diet. Edible flowers have been around for many centuries and are currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity in the late 20th century.
Here are three recipes from various sources. All are perfectly fine to serve at a Renaissance feast or modern party.
Rose Petal Syrup
4 c rose petals 2 c water
2 c sugar 1/4 tsp. Powdered cloves
Simmer all ingredients (cloves optional) for 1 hour; strain through cloth or very fine sieve; store in sterile bottles. Use in cakes, drizzle over fruit or ice cream, or be creative.
Apple Blossom Fritters
For to make Fritters:
Take croms of white bread and the flowers of the sweet appletree and yolkes of Eggis and bray them together in a mortar and temper it up with white wine and make it to seeth and when it is thick do thereto good spices of ginger, galyngal, canel, and cloves and serve it forth.
Beat together 2 egg yolks, 1/2 c white wine, and 1 Tbs. butter.
Sift & blend 1/2 c ea. flour & fine dry bread crumbs,
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ea. salt, galingale, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
Pick 2 c (packed) fresh apple blossoms, and clean them gently.
Beat 2 egg whites (until fairly stiff) and add just before cooking the fritters.
Dip blossoms into batter and deep fry in fresh oil at 350.
Candied or Crystallized Flowers
Use roses, violets, mini carnations, nasturtiums, geraniums, pansies, hollyhocks, or other edible flowers. Whole flowers or petals may be used. These may be stored in an airtight container indefinitely, as sugar is a natural preservative.
1 egg white, beaten until foamy but not stiff
1/2 c sugar
Dip each petal or flower into the egg white, then dip into or sprinkle with sugar until well coated. Dry overnight in a warm dry place, such as a slightly warmed oven (turn the oven on warm for 5-10 minutes, then turn it off and place the candied flowers in).
Remember when cooking with flowers to never use florists' flowers; use only those you know have not been exposed to insecticides!
Directions: From Berkeley or Oakland, take 24 East to 680 North, or from San Francisco, take 80 to 24 East to 680 North, or from San Jose, take 680 North. Then from 680 North, in Concord, take the 242 toward Pittsburg to the 4 East. Take the Railroad Exit and turn Right. Go to Buchanan and turn Left. The park will be on your Left. For any questions or information, Contact Laura Nacorda, Guild Rep.