At this point Pembrook rose reluctantly to his feet, and addressed the Council thusly:
My Lords of the Council of the Realm, we have a multitude of issues to settle for the safety of the realm, and they will all take time. In the meantime armies are maneuvering about our peripheries, and so something must be done, and quickly.
I am the Marshal of the Realm by appointment of the old King’s father and so I say that our defense requires these measures.
- Most importantly, six earls of the realm, three supporters of Stephen and three supporters of Isolde, will be appointed by them as Chief Counsellors, I will chair this Council, and it will have full charge of the machinery of state, because at this time we have no real idea of who the rightful ruler is, it could still be the old King, it could be Prince Stephen, or it could be Lady Isolde. This council will issue what ordinances are necessary for the continuance of peace and good order.
- Stephen’s Regency is terminated pending the resolution of these inquiries, if the King is found alive the Regency will be resumed, if not the full Council will decide on the next occupant of the throne.
- During the life of the Small Council, anybody treating with a foreign power without its authority will become subject to the law of treason and treated in accordance with it. This is a matter for us and only us to decide, there will be no foreign intervention, by guile or by force.
- Next we must ascertain the status of the King. For that purpose we will dispatch Sir Thomas Mowbray, who is about as neutral in this as we could hope to find, being a supporter of one candidate and married to the other. To accompany him and his people, the Lady Isolde, and Prince Stephen will each appoint two barons of their choice.
- Father Timothy and the other witnesses of the supposed document shall be summoned to attend us in Council within a fortnight, that we may more closely examine the provenance of these documents. These documents are critical for the future in any case, since one or another of the claimants is undoubtedly illegitimate, and it will come down to us to determine which at some point. The safety of the Realm demands that we do an honest job of this.
- Abbott Herbert will remain in arrest on the charge of carrying an unauthorized weapon. Lady Maude although remaining in seclusion as ordered may be consulted as desired.
- As Marshal, I have already sent orders to all of our defenses to be on the alert and to repulse any attack by anybody on their posts, they have been informed that under the laws of the land, the defenses, once alerted come under the command of the Marshall to the exclusion of all others, and I have received word back that they all understand and agree that this is the law. To reinforce this, lieutenants reporting to me are stationed at sundry points.
- In addition I have ordered that all persons in this minster and its environs with the sole exception of soldiers of the realm shall remain unarmed, until this work is completed. I understand that all feel that part of being a freeman of the realm is the right of arms, and it is so, and will be again. This is a temporary local restriction, because tempers are very likely to run high.
- I will expect, on the morrow, that the Lady Isolde and the Prince Stephen will give me their nominations for the various commissions I have outlined this evening.
- The laws of the realm will continue in force as outlined in the various charters issued in the history of the realm.
My Lords, I am an old man, more suited to sitting by the fireside than the remembered sting of battle. But as you all know, my loyalty is, and always has been to the Realm itself, and I have always acted as my Honor, and my duty have dictated. So it is now. I look forward more than you know to the resolution of these difficulties. My hall, and its comforts beckon me but, I will carry out my duties and responsibilities,as necessary, as long as I live.
If there are no objections we will now adjourn.
As he left the chamber the Household troops all came to the salute, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind who was now in command.
Perhaps, Geoffrey would pick up our tale.
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