Read We Speak No Treason Vol 1 Online

Authors: Rosemary Hawley Jarman

We Speak No Treason Vol 1

About the Author

Bestselling author both in the UK and North America, Rosemary Hawley Jarman was born in Worcester. She lived most of her time in Worcestershire at Callow End, between Worcester and Upton on Severn. She began to write for pleasure, and followed a very real and valid obsession with the character of King Richard III. With no thought of publication, she completed a novel showing the King in his true colours, away from Tudor and Shakespearian propaganda. The book was taken up almost accidentally by an agent, and within six weeks a contract for publication and four other novels was signed with HarperCollins. The first novel,
We Speak No Treason
, was awarded The Silver Quill, a prestigious Author’s Club Award, and sold out its first print run of 30,000 copies within seven days.
We Speak No Treason
was followed by
The King’s Grey Mare, Crown in Candlelight
The Courts of Illusion
. She now lives in West Wales and has recently published her first fantasy novel,
The Captain’s Witch






For my mother, who told me the truth

Cover Illustration:

, by kind permission of the artist, Graham Turner






This edition first published 2006

The History Press
The Mill, Brimscombe Port
Stroud, Gloucestershire,
5 2

This ebook edition first published in 2012

All rights reserved
© Rosemary Hawley Jarman, 1971, 1983, 2006, 2012

The right of Rosemary Hawley Jarman, to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

978 0 7524 9185 1
978 0 7524 9184 4

Original typesetting by The History Press


About the Author


Part One: The Maiden


Part Two: The Fool



Although this is a work of fiction, the principal characters therein actually existed as part of the vast and complex fifteenth-century society and had their recognized roles in history, sparsely documented though these may be.

I have therefore built around the lives of my narrators. They were all real people whose destiny was in various ways closely interwoven with that of the last Plantagenet king. I have endeavoured to adhere strictly to the date of actual occurrences, and none of the events described is beyond the realms of probability. Conversations are of necessity invented, but a proportion of King Richard’s words are his own as recorded by contemporaries.





You may partake of anything we say;
We speak no treason, man; we say the King
Is wise and virtuous...




Shakespeare, Richard III, Act I, Sc. I

Part One
The Maiden

The maidens came
When I was in my mother’s bower;
I had all that I would.
The bailey beareth the bell away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

The silver is white, red is the gold;
The robes, they lay in fold.
The bailey beareth the lull away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

And thro’ the glass window shines the sun.
How should I love, and I so young?
The bailey beareth the lull away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

XVth Century:






ardening is all of my pleasure. It was ever more a joy than a duty, to watch the tender shoots burst forth in spring, and to know that I had a part of them, in the cold season. When the scent of rose and gillyflower rises to mingle with the pungent breath of thyme and rosemary, chervil, basil and rue, I can close my eyes for a sinful instant, and be young again. Not old, and witless, and shattered by rheumatism like an oak after the lightning; but brimming with promise, as a fresh field awaiting the sower’s careful hand. Like the good earth of England, made rich by the blood of strong men, slumbering in moist quietness yet, beneath, a moil of passionate life. Like my garden. I call it mine, but in secret; for nuns have no possessions, only their thoughts, and should the bishop and priest have power to read my mind, they might find me exceedingly worldly still. And I do not care. Sorrow is a sharper blade than penitence, and when a creature is bared to the bone she sees life as one might through a slanted glass, some of it faded, some of it out of true, some sharp and clear. I am very old. They say the old remember childhood best of all, and they do not lie, though this is a world of liars.

I have been thinking today about Elizabeth. Dame Elizabeth Grey, who was our Queen. I knew well that Elizabeth. I lived in her house, on the manor of Grafton Regis, when I was young, and reckoned myself so full of guile and cunning, and know now that I was not. Another Elizabeth is our Queen, and they say that she is ailing. May Our Lady of Sorrows have mercy upon her and guide her where I long to be. Though I have never seen her, I know that she is fair, like her mother; her mother of the herb garden. That brings me again to the flowers, and the neat rows of spices and the weeds which spread even unto the cloister with its tomb. Gardening too has its moments of truth, for a grave needs to be weeded, like everything else, and this is the grave of my beloved.

They buried him here, for there was nowhere else for them to lay him, in spite of the fact that he should have been entombed at Westminster, not only for the good he wrought but because he came of the old royal line. No ordinary man was he; neither knight nor squire nor honest yeoman, but one possessed of such extraordinary strength and compassion that you would think he would ever be loved and revered. Mine is a strange, barren story: more joy, more sorrow, than is the lot of most. Yet the sorrow is sometimes almost forgotten and the joy, which supported me through the years while he lived, was such to make me smile and dream, refusing the knights who would have married me, and being content with the memory of a few hours. It is no heresy to love, and be mad. And there are times when, hearing the things now shouted about him whom I knew to be a good man, I wonder myself if I were once bewitched by the bright fiends of Fotheringhay.

I say the sorrow is almost forgotten, yet days come when an old woman has to look anxiously for the comforting Eye of God, in the mote of a sunbeam, in the passing glint of a chantry window, all the while cursing her frail tools and her weak hands. And I have betrayed my secret, an open secret these days, and one which I could mouth with pride. Yet had he been the lowest of the commonalty I would have run gladly towards the love we loved together. Daily the shouts of calumny and disfavour reach my ears; the shouts that once were whispers. I can but smile and shake my head for, being what they deem a witless old nun, my testimony is useless.

Always was he all my joy. And I first heard his name at the manor of Grafton Regis, when I was twelve years old.

A king once loved me.


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