With a feeling of satisfaction, Sir Robert Cecil relaxed comfortably into the coach for his long ride back to England. His audience with King James VI of Scotland had been a success, and had even exceeded his expectations in carving out a place for himself in their newly conceived government. Over the past two years, their intermittent meetings had been long and drawn out, but he was pleased that this one had been quick and to the point. Their final negotiation for the throne of England had been more relaxed than any of their previous encounters, perhaps because Time was now conspiring to speed them towards their goal.
As the carriage raced down the road, Cecil recalled the hectic ride three years earlier on his way to his father’s deathbed. Sadly, Fate had intervened by breaking the carriage’s axle that night, causing a delay in his arrival. By the time he had reached the house, Lord Burghley was dead and the instructions he had hoped for regarding the royal succession had become undeliverable. His father had taken the unfinished business to his grave, leaving the specters of civil war and national chaos looming over his son’s head.
It was so unlike his father to have died with the successor’s name unspoken and undocumented when he had so carefully recorded and scripted every other aspect of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign. Lord Burghley had elevated her from the reviled spawn of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII to Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, polishing every aspect of her reign until it shone like a jewel against her sister Mary’s infamous and bloody rule. He could scarcely believe there wasn’t a piece of paper somewhere in Lord Burghley’s hand that anticipated Elizabeth’s choice for royal heir. But he could find no such paper, and only in that regard did his pedantic father leave him nothing.
The Queen still refused to name her successor, but these days Cecil found her silence convenient. It enabled him to act in his own self-interest, supporting a monarch who would reward him for placing the crown within his reach. He had already preyed upon the Queen’s guilty conscience to send James £3000 a year, supposedly as reparations for the execution of his mother. Naturally, James was grateful for this generosity – not to the murderous monarch who had signed Mary of Scotland’s death warrant, but to the hunchbacked counselor who had paved his way towards England’s throne.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish