Early in the afternoon on a hot windy July day, Anne sat in her tent at a large table next to Will. Light filter from the canvas ceiling floating down on the books spread over the table. The flap to the tent flew open and Philip strode in. With haste, Anne and Will rose to give the king a respective curtsey and bow. Philip took Anne’s hand across the table and kissed it. “Cousin Anne, it is good to see you, my dear.”
“Your Highness, I am honored.” Anne gave him a genuine smile.
“Sir, Will, how have you been?” Philip addressed the child as he took a seat.
Will had grown over the past couple of years. He was taller, and it seemed as though the rest of his body could not keep up with his legs. Still, he was a beautiful, charming child. “I beg your pardon, Sire, but I am not a knight,” The boy remarked.
Philip laughed. “You may not be one now, but you will be someday. You will be as skilled in battle as your Uncle Richard I dare say.”
“Your Highness, may I ask you a question?” Will’s brow furrowed in irritation.
“What is the purpose of studying all sorts of different languages? I would think you would only need to know the language of your troops, and that would be the same language of the people you govern.”
“Thank you, Will. That is enough. You will go and eat and be back here in half an hour’s time. Do you understand me?” Anne spoke in a sharp tone.
“Etiam matris,” Will said and left the tent. His skill in Latin was beginning to pay off, for he could now begrudgingly drag out, “yes mother,” in Latin as easily as in French.
Anne sighed. “He refused to do his Latin lessons for Master More. He thinks Latin is boring because Richard thinks Latin lessons are boring.”
“I cannot imagine that any child of yours would be stubborn.” One corner of Philip’s mouth turned up in a smile.
Anne brought a chair around to sit next to him. The tent walls billowed in and out with the wind. “I was most sorry to hear of your wife’s passing, My Lord. May I extend my deepest condolences?”
“Yes, thank you, Anne.” Philip tried to change the tone of the conversation from his wife who had recently died while giving birth to stillborn twins, and attempted to add some humor. “On top of everything else, I have got to find myself a new queen.”
“Hum.” Anne shook her head.
Philip looked at Anne. He found it hard to believe he had forgotten how beautiful she was. She was not wearing a wimple as married women did. He knew she hated the things and only wore them when it was necessary. Now her auburn hair tumbled down about her shoulders and her face. “I shall be honest with you, Anne. You crossed my mind once or twice as a most pleasing candidate. I even petitioned the Pope on your behalf for an annulment. As you know, he would not even let the subject be breached because your husband is on crusade and cannot speak his case. Besides, if you did get an annulment, then I would have to petition the Pope to allow our marriage because we are second cousins. Then there is Richard. In the end, I came to the conclusion that were you and I to marry, he would find a way to ensure I would have no more heirs.”
“Sire, I am flattered, but there are other women who would make a better queen than I.” She tipped her head to the side.
“Or one that my marrying would not put my manhood in danger.” He grinned.
Anne did not smile. She looked down at her lap and said nothing.
“Anne, you do not look happy. What is wrong? What can I do to make you smile?” Philip scooted closer.
“Oh, I am a little tired. That is all. Perhaps it is the heat and life in camp.” She shrugged.
Philip cupped her chin in his hand and lifted it so her eyes would meet his. “I know you better than that, cousin. You have spent a good deal of time following Richard around in military camps. Camp life is nothing new to you.” He let go of her chin. “I guess I can understand your mood when there is the whole business about the Princess of Navarre.”
Anne narrowed her eyes. “The Princess of Navarre? What business?”
Philip hesitated for a moment. He knew his plan was beginning to work, and here with Anne, looking into her eyes, he regretted it. He knew she would be hurt, but he had already started down the path and he must complete it. He reasoned she would find out about it soon enough, and it was better she heard it from a friend. “Oh, no. You did not know? You mean Richard has not told you?”
“Regretfully, Sire, I do not know what he should have told me.”
“Really? Richard has said nothing to you about Berengaria of Navarre?” Philip felt slight surprised.
Befuddled, Anne only looked up at him.
Philip took both of her hands in his. “I should not be the one to tell you this. It is not my place.”
“Your Highness Cousin—I beg you, please tell me.”
“Richard should be the one to tell you this. Not me.” Philip pursed his lips. “However, I will tell you because I care for you. My sources have informed me that Richard does not intend to marry Alice as he promised. He intends to marry Princess Berengaria of Navarre and form an alliance in the south to protect his borders there. That is why Eleanor went to Navarre, to negotiate the marriage treaty.”
Anne relaxed. “With all due respect, you must have been misinformed.”
“I wish I were. Believe me. I wish it was all a rumor, but it is not. Thrice I had the information confirmed.” He studied Anne’s face. “Richard does not know that I know.”
After a trice, Anne exhaled. “Well, I was never born to be a queen.”
“Naturally, I am angered by it all because of the whole affair with Alice, but to treat you this way, to not even tell you himself… Oh, dear Anne, I am sorry. Was he thinking, Eleanor would show up with the woman, and you would just understand or submit without any kind of warning? I am so very, very sorry you found out about it this way.”
“No, I thank you for your candor, Cousin.” She pushed herself up out of her chair and began to stack the books strewn around on the table.
“I am worried about you.” Philip stood and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Do not go with him. Stay in Marseilles with Will where you will be safe.”
She reached out for a book on the other side of the large table and pulled it closer to her. “I am not going on Crusade with him.”
Philip reached around her and firmly placed his hand on the stack of books, looking her in the eye. “I know why you are officially supposed to be going, Anne, but, in truth you, and I know the real reason.”
“My Lord, the real reason is to see to Marseilles’ interests overseas. We do a considerable trade all along the Mediterranean. Granted, we are no Genoa or Pisa, but we are still very dependent on trade from that region. I have an important duty to my son and his inheritance.”
“Anne, I beg you. I do not want to see you further hurt.”
She turned around and faced him. “My feelings are of no consequence in this matter. Duty is the important thing. I never hoped to marry Richard and knew this day would come, eventually.”
“I realize that; however, the way he is going about it is not fair to you. He is treating you as a trifle. After all these years of loyalty and sacrifice.” He was close enough to feel her breath on his cheek.
Anne looked into Philip’s blue eyes. “I promise I will come out of this adventure unscathed.”
“Anne, promise me that you will not hesitate to ask for my help, should you need it.”
“I promise, My Lord.”
“Anne, I swear…”
“Don’t,” she interrupted him.
Philip gave her a tender kiss on the forehead and turned to leave. He stopped at the tent door and turned around. “Just because he is a king does not mean he has the right to act like… he should remember those who made him what he is.” Philip did not wait for a response; he left.
Anne spent the rest of the day supervising Will in his Latin lessons. Night fell and the camp outside came alive with music. Anne sat in her tent and listened to the celebratory mood. The nervous laughter of men soon to go to war floated across the camp, men relishing but fearing the glory that lay ahead of them, ready to be taken.
Anne was alone. Marguerite went off on a tryst somewhere with Andrew, and Will dragged Master More off to look at a fresh herd of horses that arrived earlier that day. Richard and Philip were somewhere, probably in Richard’s tent, going over war strategies, or something equally uninteresting.
After a while, Anne decided she would retire early. Sitting down at her dressing table, she loosened her hair, brushed it out with her fingers, and laid her hairpins neatly in a row on the table before her. Lost in thought, she felt the ribbon around her neck, which held Richard’s ring; she still wore it after all this time. Wondering if Richard still kept his token as close by as she did his, she pulled the ring out to look at it.
Before she had a chance to examine the ring, she heard a ruckus outside, so she went to her tent door. Just as she reached out to pull back the flap, Richard burst into her tent. She could tell by his red face that he was livid.
“Be direct with me. Did you or did you not have a private audience with Philip today?” Richard boomed at her.
“Richard, keep your voice down.” She tried to hush him.
“Do not order me about! I am your king! Answer the question, Anne.” He spoke even louder.
She looked up at him, defiant. “I fail to see how that is any of your concern. I am not your subject, and I will conduct my business with whomever I see fit.”
“You have embarrassed me, Anne. I spent all evening in parlay with Philip, and now Will tells me that you and Philip were alone together in your tent. There were others there and they heard.” He pointed at her.
“You cannot possibly think that Philip and I…” Anne raised her voice slightly.
Richard picked up a blue pillow and threw it hard against a tent wall. “I know you did not, but others do not know that. Besides, it looks as though you are plotting against me with the French King.”
“Richard, you are being ridiculous.”
“I am being ridiculous? I am being ridiculous? What about you? You have moped around ever since my coronation. Everyone sees it! Everyone agrees!”
“Of course, they agree with you. You are the king.”
“Do not mock me, Anne.” Richard flashed her a look of warning.
“I would not know how to mock you. I hardly know who you are anymore. The Richard I knew would not have cared one for the latest rumor at court.” Anne glared at him.
“That man was not the king.”
“Do not worry. That is a fact I have not forgotten. How could I? You keep reminding me. You know that I am, and have always been loyal to you, Your Highness.”
Richard stood over her, his arms folded, and looked down at her. “Then swear an oath to me.”
“What?” Anne’s eyes widened.
“An oath. I want you to swear an oath to me that you are loyal to me and not to Philip.”
Anne exploded. “An oath! I do not need to swear an oath to you, nor shall I. The fact that I have stayed with you, stood behind you all these years, that is my oath.”
“Swear that you are loyal to me, and that you love me.”
“No.” She folded her arms.
Without warning, Richard reached out and grabbed her arm, hauling her out of the tent and into the camp. “I will have you swear it before a priest.”
She pulled against his strong grip. First he went left and then he came back to the right. Quickly, he walked toward his tent, dragging Anne along with him all the while shouting, “Where is a priest?”
“My Lord!” Blondel ran to him.
Still in Richard’s camp, speaking with Baldwin, Philip heard Richard shout out. Returning towards Richard’s tent, he found Richard standing there with Anne, both seething. Richard yanked on Anne’s arm again as he started toward the Archbishop of Canterbury’s tent. “Where is a damned priest when you need one? They are always fluttering and flitting around when it’s inconvenient, but when they are actually needed, there is not one to be found.” As he went past one tent, he slapped the wine out of the hand of one soldier and pushed another who stood too close to his path, sending the man reeling.
Philip stepped into Richard’s path. “Richard, stop! You are hurting her!”
Richard bellowed back, shaking his finger, “This is none of your concern, Philip. Get out of my way!”
“Richard, I am not going to let you hurt her!” Philip stood firm.
Richard stopped and clenched his free hand into a fist. His face flushed red with rage, and he shook. “Someone find me a bloody priest!” He thundered.
“I am done with this conversation!” Anne shouted.
Her outburst shocked Richard enough to loosen his grip on her arm. She jerked free.
“Anne!” Philip reached out toward her.
Anne stepped out of his reach. “I am sick to death of kings. I have had enough of kings today to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. Good night, Your Highnesses! I am taking my leave of you.” She turned and stomped back to her tent.
Richard tried to follow her, but Philip jumped in front of him. “As a blood relation, I would advise you to calm yourself and let her calm down before you approach her again.”
The two kings stood face to face, each one silently daring the other to make a move. Baldwin rushed to Richard, “Your Majesty, there is a message from Marshal regarding your… brother.” Baldwin lied but he hoped it would be enough to distract the king. Once he got Richard away, he would make up something, but he needed to separate the two men.
“We shall discuss this again, Philip.” Richard grumbled and stormed to his tent.