Within the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King's Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love

Within the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King's Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love

by Margaret Campbell Barnes
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Within the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King's Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love by Margaret Campbell Barnes

"Within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king..." -Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard II

Unlike his father, the Black Prince, or his namesake, King Richard the Lionheart, Richard II never really wanted to be king. But the mantle of royalty is thrust upon his shoulders at age 11, at a time when England is racked by unrest and class warefare. A leader as unexpected as he is inexperienced, young Richard must find a way to triumph over a fierce conflict more destructive than any foreign enemy.

Richard's love for his wife, Anne of Bohemia, gave him the strength to outwit the schemes of his enemies and govern as he saw fit, providing England with years of properity under his reign. But when tragedy strikes, Richard begins to loose the common touch by which he had ruled so brilliantly, and begins a downward spiral from which his detractors would derive strength...

"Sympathetic picture of sensitive, peace-loving, and ill-beset Richard II, who had it in him to be one of the best kings England ever had."-Booklist

"Ms. Barnes captures the flavor, pageantry, and color of the Middle Ages...a distinguished novel." -Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402239212
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 04/01/2010
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.02(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestseller Margaret Campbell Barnes wrote several historical novels, including Brief Gaudy Hour, My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, and The Tudor Rose. Her novels have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

Read an Excerpt

Young Richard Plantagenet knelt by a richly blazoned tomb in Canterbury Cathedral while priests and monks chanted prayers for the repose of his father's soul. Every now and then he made a valiant effort to recall his wandering thoughts and leash them to the solemn meaning of the Latin words; but it was difficult not to drowse in an atmosphere so heavy with incense and packed humanity. He was only fifteen and this was the fifth anniversary of the Black Prince's death, and even when he had been alive Richard hadn't cared for him with all that passion of loyalty of which he was capable.

Not that he would have dreamed of telling anyone so, of course-unless perhaps it were his closest friend, Robert de Vere. Such an unnatural confession would hurt his mother and shock his uncles, besides seeming to admit some rather shameful lack of appreciation in himself. For hadn't all these people crowded into the Cathedral year after year on the Black Prince's birthday to pay homage to a national hero? And wasn't all England still mourning for the martial, grown-up king they might have had instead of a useless minor like himself? But unfortunately his illustrious father had always been too busy fighting to play with him when he was small and Richard remembered him mostly as an irritable invalid, blighted in his prime by some unpleasant disease picked up in the Spanish campaign.

Actually, he had preferred his old war-horse of a grandfather, Edward the Third, who had lived a year longer and anxiously bequeathed him the crown.

At last the long Requiem chants died away in a series of lovely, diminishing echoes that pursued each other upwards from choir to clerestory and out through the open arches, one hoped, to the feet of God. Richard eased his knees from a faldstool and seated himself beside his mother to listen to the usual eulogy of their dead. Sudbury, the Archbishop, spoke proudly of how the late Prince of Wales had carried the renown of English arms like a flaunting banner across the Continent-of his courage at Crécy and his generalship at Poitiers. His effective voice was like a clarion call to the new, untried generation, and Richard, in common with other youngsters of his age, gazed with apologetic awe at the recumbent effigy of the proven warrior, flanked by a hardy company of living comrades-in-arms bearing the famous black armour and the captured ostrich feathers of Bohemia. He had been brought up on the names of Crécy and Poitiers. The overworked words had been dinned into him until something inside him sickened secretly at the sound of them. He felt that people used them unfairly, like pikes to prod him with, so that in self-defence he tried to avoid the warlike things they stood for. Unconsciously, against such high-sounding standards, he was always striving to keep inviolate that precious indescribable thing which was himself-the spiritual quality which so many well-meaning people tried to encroach upon. And being both imaginative and intelligent, he could usually find plenty of alleys of mental escape when he didn't want to listen to them. Even now, while formally trying to fill a chair of state which was considerably too big for him, he was able to give the primate's eloquence the slip and enter into the intimate, satisfying world of his own conceits.

He couldn't be bored for long in so exquisite and interesting a place. If his father's war cult left him cold, the boy had imbibed his mother's cult of beauty. He loved the rich colours of vestments and stained glass, the cool mysterious perspective of dim aisles and the grandeur of tall arches soaring into the vaulting of the roof. By sliding forward a little in his chair he could catch a glimpse of the worn steps leading to Becket's golden shrine and relive the well-known tragedy of a previous Plantagenet's anger and remorse. What must it feel like, he wondered, to be murdered. How must poor Saint Thomas have reacted when he saw the King's knights invading his sanctuary? Had he suffered much? Richard shivered involuntarily, miserably uncertain whether he himself could ever face the violence of four assassins with the bravery of Becket.

"Priest or no priest, he set about some of them first!" he recalled, reconstructing the thrilling scene which he and Robert de Vere had pestered their tutor to recount so often. From the time when he had first come from Bordeaux it had formed a favourite theme for their "play-acting"; and what with his own vivid imagination and Robert's dramatic skill, they had managed to scare themselves deliciously. And as soon as they were a bit older they had ghoulishly searched the Cathedral floor for bloodstains.

But all that had been in the untrammelled days when he was only the King of England's grandson. Richard suppressed a yawn and tried to ease the heavy ermine cloak about his shoulders. For want of something better to do he began picturing the masons of William of Sens' time scaling ladders or standing on precarious stagings to build the lovely choir, and devoted monks carving queer little faces of men and beasts and angels. Sometimes they set the perfection of these reflections of their own laughing, Christ-loving souls so humbly high up-so removed from the earthbound glances of the righteous-that they seemed almost to be intended for an intimate, tender jest between craftsman and Creator. He remembered seeing one harsh, self-important face that had reminded him of his Uncle Thomas, a handsome one on some doorway that was like Uncle John and a grotesquely puff-cheeked figure of Gluttony that might have been meant for Uncle Edmund of York when he was hungry. The memory of such fortuitous resemblances delighted their unregenerate nephew so much that he almost forgot the solemnity of the occasion and laughed aloud. Mercifully he was hidden from Thomas of Gloucester by a massive pillar, York was dozing gently, and John of Lancaster-the eldest of the uncles-was up north trying to finish off some peace negotiations with Scotland.

While the familiar recitation of his father's virtues drew towards its concluding homily, Richard turned his attention to the newly restored nave with its half-finished aisles. In spite of workmen's scaffoldings it was packed with people who had come surging after the royal party through the great west doors. He often wondered why they came so far and stood in such discomfort to see him. The men always shouted for him good-naturedly, the women sometimes cried a little because of his youth; and he on his side was always careful not to show his repugnance for their frowsty clothes and sweating bodies. For even if his mother spoiled him, at least she insisted upon good manners. And whenever he had complained about the way some of them stank, his tutor, Sir Simon Burley, had pointed out that no one who had seen inside their houses could expect them to wash much. Naturally, this was one of the things Richard had immediately wanted to do, but no one would let him for fear of the plague.

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Within the Hollow Crown: A Valiant King's Struggle to Save His Country, His Dynasty, and His Love 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Both his father and grandfather have passed away and now Richard II, who is just a boy, is the new King of England. Being a child he was only able to rule with the Regency Council. As he grew to be a teenage, the council was null and he was able to make decisions for his people as he saw fit. He also fell in love and took a wife, Anne of Bohemia at this important time in his life. There are so many things that happen in this book. King Richard's life is like a roller coaster. There's drama, romance, murder and more. This is a fun fictional portrait of King Richard II.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Unlike his father Edward the Black prince, his grandfather Edward III, or his namesake Richard the Lionhearted, Richard Plantagenet never wanted to be king. However, in 1377 at eleven years old, he is crowned ruler of England under the control of a Regency Council led by his Uncle John of Gaunt. He hated their control and was pleased with parliament's dissolution of the Council though his Uncle John remained his top advisor. However, it was his happy marriage to Anne of Bohemia that gave him the strength and spirit to make difficult decisions in a strife torn kingdom; as his prime goal was to end the Hundred Years War and other such conflicts. He proved successful at fourteen when he ended the Peasants' Revolt. England prospered under his valiant rule until his beloved Anne died in 1394. Richard II was never the same and soon was betrayed by his cousin. This is a fascinating work of biographical fiction that will remind readers of the Shakespeare tragedy as a great ruler falls apart after his heart dies along with his beloved Anne. Written in 1948, Within the Hollow Crown holds up as a strong historical fiction that brings to life the late fourteenth century England, a place where intrigue and betrayal outlive a monarch trying to bring peace, harmony, and prosperity to his kingdom. Harriet Klausner
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