Review: Hanley Castle by Brian Wainwright


Constance of York, no longer in the Queen’s household, is more interested in her marriage than politics. But soon the pull of King Richard’s court, and her ambition and that of her husband, Thomas Despenser, prevail. There are many scores to settle as the King takes his revenge on the Lords Appellant.

My Review

In Book 2 We have the not-so-young Constance who is old enough to marry and maintain her own household. She and Thomas Despenser are happy with each other, though Constance has to struggle to maintain good relations with his mother. In fact, she is already showing signs of a tempestuous nature; don’t mess with Constance! Nonetheless, she and Thomas could have maintained their delicate status in relation to the many conflicting interests of friends and family, except for the political situation in England. For instance, in relation to their daughter’s proposed marriage:

‘What is this you have been telling my mother about our daughter’s marriage?’ Thomas asked, as we rode across the long bridge over the Avon. I gathered she had been at his ear even before he had broken his fast.
I told him of the discussion I had with Warwick and his mother, and made him laugh.
‘You take pleasure in setting hares running, don’t you?’ he said.
‘I was provoked.’
‘I dare say you were…I believe we can make such an alliance as will put Warwick’s nose well out of joint, and Berkeley’s too. What would you say to her becoming, at some distant time I hope, the Countess of March?’

The Earl of March, always in the background, was the alleged heir presumptive since Richard had no children—and the king was unhappily aware of it. But King Richard had other things on his mind. He had never forgotten nor forgiven the Lords Appellant, who had murdered his friends and had threatened his crown even before he reached his majority. And now, the most obnoxious offenders—the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel—were stirring up trouble again. This time, however, they faced a king who had much more control over the country, and Despenser is among those who are called upon to bolster Richard’s position. Thomas is on the winning side, but how long will that last?

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