JOHN PLANTAGANET (b.1166, king since 1199, age 48) – Angevin (1) King of England. Fifth, last and least son of the great King Henry II, John's reign has so far run the gamut from disaster to complete disaster. True, his elder brother and predecessor Richard the Lionheart – heart in right place, brain not - had left things in a mess, but John had still inherited England, southern Wales, much of Ireland and the western half of modern France. Trouble was, the Gallic bit was split into many independent states – Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Torraine, Poitou and Gascony – and John had also inherited a rival, his late elder brother Geoffrey's kid Arthur. Art soon disappeared in mysterious circumstances (John was almost certainly said circumstances) and, faced with the able French king Philip II, John had promptly run away. The English position soon collapsed until only Gascony and the Channel Isles were left of the once-great Angevin Empire. John's barons had narrowly repelled a French invasion the year before, but his recent failed and very expensive campaign to recapture his Gallic lands had, as you may imagine, not left the barons very happy.
HENRY PLANTAGANET (b. 1207, age 9) - John's eldest son, and heir to the throne. Named for his highly-able grandfather, unfortunately more in hope than reality as things turned out.
ELEANOR OF BRITTANY (b.1185, age 29) – Sister to the late Prince Arthur, John's niece and therefore a potential rival. The idea of a woman on the throne was utterly unthinkable to the barons – they remembered the dreadful Empress Matilda, John's atrocious grandmother, who had come close to power before upsetting everyone within screeching distance – but there was always the prospect that Elly could marry and transmit her claim to a male heir, so she had been kept under house-arrest since her capture in 1202, twelve years back. Poor girl.
WILLIAM (THE) MARSHALL (b. 1146, age 68) – Wiliam Fitzgilbert, Earl of Pembroke, far and away the most powerful baron in England. A professional tournament fighter, and the sort of person you only ever got to cross once. Among his many possessions was a castle at Little Garsle (now Ludgershall) in Wiltshire which bordered Lord Castiel of Colingburn's lands, and holdings in Winchester, which had brought the Saxon merchant's son Dean of Winchester into his household. William's lineage would descend through two of his daughters to the Tudor and Stuart dynasties, hence he is an ancestor to the modern British royal family.
PHILIP CAPET (b.1165, age 49) – King Philip II of France, one of the most able rulers of the medieval period (not that outwitting John needed much in the way of grey matter). As well as conquering the Angevin territories, he also greatly reduced the semi-independence of the other Gallic states that bordered the Royal France he had inherited back in 1180, then just the area around Paris.
LOUIS CAPET (b.1187, age 27) – Philip's son, and heir to the French throne (not 'the Dauphin'; that title for the heir came later). Louis had married John's niece Blanche in 1200 – they had both been twelve years old at the time. They had thirteen children! He would become King Louis VIII on his father's death in 1223.
INNOCENT III (b.1160, age 54) – Pope since 1198, one of the most powerful to hold that post for a long time. Had fought with (and of course defeated) John over the Investiture Controversy some years back, forcing the king to acknowledge papal supremacy and to 'sell' England to Rome. This led to a massive outflow of church money from England for the next three centuries.
WILLIAM CANMORE (b.1143, age 71) – William I King of Scots, nickname 'the Lion'; he was not 'King of Scotland' since large parts of the north and west were then still under the rule of the King of Norway. A mostly successful reign had been marred by frequent failed attempts to conquer Northumbria from the English. His only son was Prince Alexander.
ALEXANDER CANMORE (b.1198, age 16) – would become Alexander II, King of Scots when his father died in December, two months after this story begins. John's cousin, he would support the rebel barons against him.
LLYWELYN AP IORWETH (b.1172, age 42) – Llywelyn Fawr ('the Great'), Prince of Gwynedd, the largest remaining independent Welsh state in the north-west of that modern country. The rules of partible succession which split Welsh states up among all of a king's sons whether legitimate or not tended to keep them disunited and an easy prey to English expansionism, which made Llywelyn's achievements doubly impressive. Llywelyn was John's son-in-law as he had married the king's illegitimate daughter Joan back in 1205 – she had been 14 at the time, he well over twice her age at 33. They had two sons; David, who would succeed Llywelyn in 1240, and Gruffydd, whose son (another Llywelyn) would be the last great independent Welsh leader.
LORD CASTIEL OF COLINGBURN (b. 1192, age 22) – Owner of a small estate in the upper Bourne Valley in rural Wiltshire (now the villages of Collingbourne Ducis and Collingbourne Kingston), about eighty miles west of London. The excellent hunting there had made him a person worth knowing to the king.
DEAN (OF) WINCHESTER (b. 1195, age 19) – Saxon son of the rich merchant John Winchester, whose estate is being run by his wife (it's complicated). The Winchester money has helped the estate's elder son to attain employment as a page in the Marshall household. Dean has green eyes, bowed legs, and the sort of demonic smile that makes you think eternal damnation might actually be worth it.
Centuries later when the French lands were finally and irrevocably lost, the Angevins went for a makeover and renamed themselves Plantaganets from the broom plant (planta geneta) that the founder of the dynasty, John's grandfather Duke Geoffrey, had always worn into battle. They died out soon after to be replaced by the Tudors.
Cavesham, Berkshire (42 miles west of London)
A man in his sixty-eighth year should, by dint of his earlier labours, have earnt the right to enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, when you are in charge of organizing the army under the most incompetent king that England has yet had to endure, William Fitzgilbert, better known by his title of Marshall, knew that any chance of such peace and quiet would be limited. Still, it would be a few days until that idiot of a king made his way back to London, so at least there would be....
The sound of angry voices in the hallway made him frown, an expression that rapidly changed to one of resignation when he recognized one of them. He glanced heavenwards and sighed; God would have some answering to do for this.
Sure enough, moments later his servant announced Lord Castiel of Colingburn, owner of a small estate that bordered one of William's down in rural Wiltshire. The Marshall did not roll his eyes, but it was a close-run thing.
“My liege”, the dark-avised young knight said, “I seek....”
“In his room”, the earl sighed.
His visitor bowed and left, and the earl reached for the beer. It was going to be One Of Those Days.
Lord Castiel stomped angrily on the long and winding stairs as he made his way up to the usual place. He did not even knock before entering a sparsely-appointed room, whose single window opened out onto the River Thames and the village of Cavesham (1), far below.
“Well, well; look what the cat dragged in!” came an irritatingly familiar drawl.
The young lord glowered at the muscular figure, who was not even bothering to stir from his luxurious bed. Dean of Winchester, son of one of the country's richest merchants and a right Saxon pest, smirked at him. That was even more annoying.
“How did it go?” the taller man grinned. “No, wait... I know this one. Your useless excuse for a king lost the battle (2), lost the war, and lost nearly all his lands in France. Oopsie!”
Lord Castiel glared at him, praying to the Good Lord that the younger man would burst into flames. Apparently the Good Lord was not in an obliging mood just then.
“All right, you won”, he scowled. “What do you want?”
The blond man smiled. For the first time, the nobleman began to feel uneasy.
“I want..... a kiss.”
Lord Castiel of Colingburn's world titled sharply on its axis.
“You want what?” the nobleman asked incredulously.
“A kiss”, Dean grinned. “The Court is awash with rumours about how the dashing Lord Castiel is careful with his favours. I want you to kiss me.”
“Welsher!” (3) Dean retorted. “Seems you are not a man of your word, after all.”
The nobleman glared at him. It crossed his mind both that Dean could hardly brute about his refusal for such a strange request, and also that the younger man was indeed handsome, almost pret....
Pretty damn irritating. Yes, that was what he had been going to think. He marched up to the side of the bed and leant over.
“Get on with it!” he growled.
“Aw, princess!” Dean smirked, sitting up and revealing a broad, bare chest. “You have got to come closer than that!”
Castiel thought longingly of the sword at his side, but got up onto the bed and leant in to kiss the younger man. It was..... tolerable, he supposed, and.....
His eyes widened.
“In God's name, you are naked under there!” he exclaimed.
“That is for later”, Dean smirked, “when your king next proves himself totally useless. There are rumours that the Welsh under Llywelyn are stirring against him.”
“The Marcher barons will hold him in check”, the nobleman said, trying not to look at the handsome figure beneath the thin sheet. Or the sizable bulge about halfway down... stop it.
Dean grinned at his suddenly increased breathing.
“Want to bet on that?”
“If that happens”, he said firmly, “then I wil kiss your lily-white arse!”
Somewhere, part of his brain was sitting back and tutting 'Castiel of Colingburn, what have you just gone and done?'.
1) Now Caversham, a residential suburb of Reading. Marshall did indeed have an estate here.
2) Battle of Bouvines, in modern Belgium. John had planned a pincer movement against the French king, but Philip defeated his ally and nephew Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor, and John had to retreat.
3) A new word to the language at the time. The Welsh were reputed for not keeping to their word.
Chapter 3: Second Lay
A lord does not welsh on a bet - no matter how 'low' he has to go.
William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, was onto his fourth king by this time. There had been Stephen, who when he had been a boy had threatened to hurl his young body over the walls of his father's castle at Deriton (1) – he had never forgiven dear daddy for telling the king to do just that, because he could easily make more and better sons. Then there had been Henry II, first of the Angevins (2) and definitely the best of the bunch, but with his otherwise successful reign clouded by the ultimately tragic end of the turbulent priest, Thomas Becket. Then the awful Richard; Lionheart, loser and louse but great at publicity - just not at remembering to wear armour into battle, the dolt! And finally John, pretty much useless at everything, as events a few days ago had showed. Surely things could not get any worse for England?
Angry voices from the hallway suggested that, once again, the Good Lord was about to prove him wrong. Sure enough, it was Lord Castiel of Colingburn, looking even more unkempt than usual after his hard ride from the Welsh March, whither the Marshall had dispatched him after the latest John-inspired cock-up.
“His usual room”, the Marshall sighed. Young men these days!
His visitor bowed and left. The earl knew from the dark expression on his face that he was Not Happy. He reached again for the beer (3).
Lord Castiel drew a deep breath before entering. There was always the chance he could emerge from the forthcoming confrontation with his sanity intact, if not his principles.
The irritating Saxon was, of course, in bed. And bare-chested. The nobleman spared an angry thought towards a part of his anatomy that was registering its definite satisfaction at that fact.
“Well, well”, the younger man grinned. “How was Shropsbury (4), my lord?”
Castiel reminded himself that, despite his post, the Marshall did not approve of oaths in his household. No matter what the provocation.
“You know damn well!” he ground out. “That bastard Llywelyn has taken it. We will soon have it back.”
“Taken it”, Dean grinned. “Taken the very town that you said he would not be able to take, or you would.... now what were your exact words?”
Castiel began to have a bad feeling that he knew just where this conversation was heading.
“You know what I said”, he snarled.
“Remind me”, Dean grinned.
Castiel took a deep breath.
“I said that if the Welsh prince took the town, then I would kiss your lily-white arse!”
Dean grinned even wider, and began to remove the thing sheet covering his very obviously naked body. Castiel tried to steady his breathing as the younger man rolled onto his side.
“Well?” Dean said over his shoulder. “The 'lily-white arse' is ready and waiting, o proud nobleman.”
A very fine lily-white arse, a certain and as ever unhelpful part of Castiel pointed out, and those freckles were just del..... he gulped, and walked over to the bed. Leaning forward, he placed the most perfunctory of kisses on the younger man's freckled skin.
“That was not a proper kiss”, Dean called over a broad shoulder. “You did not keep your word, my lord.”
Something snapped inside Castiel, and he returned to the fray with rather more intent. Silently pleased at the noises that the younger man was making, he planted a very large hickey on the right buttock and, feeling pleased with his work, proceeded to do the same to the left one.
Dean swung onto his side to face the man, and grinned.
“Guess I won't be sitting down any time soon”, he grinned. “Care to join me in here?”
Oh yes, said part of Castiel's anatomy.
“No!” the nobleman said, a little too forcibly. “You were lucky this time. But the king will soon be triumphant. He is already payi.... persuading the pope to excommunicate the rebel barons, and that will destroy their support.”
“Bet he cannot manage it within a threemonth”, Dean smiled.
“You are on!”
1) Now Donnington, on the main London to Bristol road near Newbury in Berkshire. A key castle in the later English Civil Wars (1642-1651).
2) The dynasty that ruled England from 1154 to 1485 was called the Angevins at the time, literally 'the people from Anjou', their home duchy in what is now France. Only after the family split between Lancaster and York branches after 1399 did the later name of Plantaganet catch on, from the planta geneta (broom plant), a sprig of which Henry II's father had always worn into battle.
3) No, the Marshall did not have a drinking problem! Because rivers were used as sewers, water was often unsafe to drink. Beer was safe because the brewing process killed virtually all the germs; they even produced a special weak version – 'small beer' – just for kids!
4) Now Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire. A key town along the border with the fractious Welsh kingdoms, of which it had many centuries before been a part.
Chapter 4: Third Lay
Just outside the City of London, Castiel has the original choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Westminster, Middlesex (1 mile west of London)
This was the thirteenth century, and women Knew Their Place. For Mary Winchester, that place was running the family businesses, which her husband had been forced to secretly sign over to her - otherwise she might just happen to have 'accidentally' mentioned to a certain William Marshall that John Winchester had tried to have his way with the great nobleman's daughter.
Since you ask, yes; Mary Winchester had wondered how she would look in widow's weeds. There was a really nice shop just along the Kensington road.....
Her younger son Samuel was still away at school, but her elder Dean was at home, lazing about as usual. She fretted for him, but at least he had the great Marshall as his mentor, and the earl had even let him come home for a short visit. That was quite something, given how busy the earl was now, trying to stop the idiot king making an even bigger mess of things than usual....
Oh dear. That was not good..
A familiar figure was striding across the courtyard. Lord Castiel of Colingburn had obviously been told that Dean was out in one of the barns, and was on the prowl. It crossed her mind that, typically of brothers, her younger son had often wished that he were an only child.
Samuel Winchester might be about to get his wish!
Castiel stalked into the barn looking about him, trying to control the red mist that was threatening to descend.
The penalty for murder is death, the penalty for murder is death, the penalty for murder is..... not quite worth it.
A set of broad and very naked shoulders loomed up from the upper deck of the barn. Dean of Winchester, damn him, smirked.
“So”, he said, “how did that surefire papal excommunication go?”
Castiel ground his teeth in frustration.
“You were just lucky”, he almost spat. “The Holy Father condemned the vile rebels, but is not quite yet ready to throw them out of the Church.”
Dean chuckled. Castiel's hand tightened around his sword.
“So”, the younger man said, “I believe that that means you owe me a forfeit. Come on up, but leave your weapon – well, your sword at least – down there.”
Castiel rolled his eyes, but did as he as told and climbed the ladder to the deck. The younger man was only bare-chested, and a part of the nobleman could shut up about being disappointed on that fact.
“What do you want?” he growled.
“Simple”, Dean said. “I want you to wear something. And to bring it with you next time you call.”
The nobleman narrowed his eyes at the attractive young man. There had to be more to it than that. Then Dean opened his hand, and doubt became confusion.
“A locket?” he asked dubiously.
“For the forthcoming royal ball”, Dean grinned. “I want you to wear this, so, when all those ladies see it, they will know that you are already taken.”
Never in a million years!
“You did promise”, Dean purred. “But if you feel unable to do that, I shall accept an alternative payment of my giving you one kiss.”
Castiel sighed in relief.
“That is.... acceptable”, he said, trying to will a certain part of his anatomy (whose timing sucked lately!) back down again. It did not help that Dean, with equally bad timing, looked down just then.
“And I see someone is waiting for his kiss!” he grinned.
It took Lord Castiel of Colingburn rather too long to put two and two together and.....
He did not sulk as he slipped the locket on. And someone's smirk was still damn annoying!
“You have been lucky so far”, he ground out. “The king will win this battle with the rebels, because he is the king. They will all be ruined.”
“The rebels, as you call them, will be in London in under a threemonth”, he said.
The Saxon waggled his eyebrows at him.
“Want to bet on it?”
Author's Note: Although the modern Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are in metropolitan London, they are actually in the City of Westminster, which is separate from the City of London. Also, there was no parliament building at this time; the king summonsed those who he wanted to call to a parliament to wherever he happened to be at the time (famously the Shropshire village of Acton Burnell would house one such parliament), and only after King Henry VIII moved into the sumptuous new Whitehall Palace across the road in the sixteenth century did he allow members to meet regularly in his old palace of Westminster.
Chapter 5: Fourth Lay
That sound you can hear is a certain nobleman's dignity disappearing into the far distance.....
If looks could have killed, a certain green-eyed son of a Saxon would have dropped dead the moment that Lord Castiel of Colingburn had crossed the mighty River Thames. Unfortunately, when he arrived to the Lord Marshall's estate, it was to receive the news that some smirking bastard was up in his room and, as far as could be ascertained, still very much alive. Damnation!
Castiel reminded himself again that the penalty for killing someone was death. It was no longer the demotivating factor that it had once been. Tasking a final breath after the long ascent, he pushed open the door.
“Ever heard of knocking?” came a mocking and irritatingly familiar voice.
Castiel glared at the younger man. Dean was, for once, fully clothed, but his loose shirt hung open to reveal a broad and almost hairless chest that was absolutely......
“You were just lucky!” Castiel scoffed.
Dean's eyes slid down the nobleman's slender figure.
“You're wearing my pendant”, he observed. “Good boy!”
Bearing in mind where most of Lord Castiel's blood was just then, blushing should have been a physical impossibility. Unfortunately it was not.
“What do you want this time?” the nobleman ground out.
Dean seemed to think about that for far too long. Then he smiled, a slow, lazy smile that made the nobleman want to run from the room.
“I want to give you a hickey”, he said.
Oh yes please, said the most unhelpful part of Castiel's anatomy.
“Aw, come on, Cas!” Dean said beseechingly, batting his eyelashes in a way that was not the least bit attractive (down, boy!). “No-one likes a welsher!”
Castiel took a deep breath.
“Only if it is somewhere that cannot be seen in these clothes”, he said firmly.
The nobleman's eyes narrowed. Dean had accepted that far too easily. What was he up to?”
If there had been sufficient blood left in his brain, Lord Castiel of Colingburn would have been grievously embarrassed by the noises that the Saxon had wheedled out of him in the past half an hour. And any pretence that he was unaffected by the tow-headed boy – that had been put into a trebuchet (1) and hurled high into the blue yonder.
“You do like to back a loser”, Dean grinned, helping him up with his trousers (the nobleman would have glared at him, but his vision, like everything else about him at the moment, was not fully functional). “The king will lose and lose again.”
“I still say he will break the barons”, Castiel said defiantly, tying his belt.
“He will surrender to them in under a month”, Dean grinned.
“Want to bet on it?”
It was only as he reached the bottom of the stairs that the nobleman realized. Walking was agony enough – but how he had a long horse ride, with that hickey rubbing between his thighs all the way home! And the fact that he had been at full mast whilst the bastard had applied it..... he hated him!
Oh really, asked a small voice from inside his head. He ignored it.
1) Medieval artillery weapon. Various sharp and unpleasant objects, sometimes including bodies of captured enemy soldiers, were hurled high over the walls of a besieged castle or town, falling on their victims at over twenty meters a second. If the impact didn't kill them, there was always the prospect of disease; it is believed that either catapults or trebuchets were used by the Golden Horde in their siege of Theodosia (now Kaffa, in the Crimea) to hurl infected dead horses into the town that started the Black Death in Europe – possibly the first ever use of biological warfare!
Hundeslow, Middlesex (12 miles west of London)
Samandriel, Lord Castiel of Colingburn's cousin and page, took a deep breath before stepping inside the tent. His master was not prone to violence, and besides, there was a clear path to the entrance. The nobleman looked up at his approach.
“What is it, Alfie?” he yawned. “I am almost ready for my bed.”
“You have a visitor, sir”, Samandriel said. “A Saxon fellow, calling himself Dean of Winchester.”
Even though there was no visible response, the boy knew immediately that Lord Castiel was Not Pleased at that news. He offered up a silent prayer that his was not the sort of master who took his anger out on the lower orders, as so many did. Too many masters these days confused 'page' with 'punch-bag'.
“Send him in”, Castiel sighed. “And you may retire for the night, Alfie. I can find my own way back to the house.”
The page nodded, and left quickly. Moments later, an annoyingly familiar figure replaced him, smirking far too loudly.
“Oh, I love a knight in shining armour!” Dean grinned. “Always ready to relieve damsels in distress – well, rid them of one cause of their distress, at least!”
“You are no damsel”, he said acidly.
“True”, Dean agreed. “I wonder how I would look in a dress, though.”
The nobleman coughed violently at the image that that entailed. And once he had stopped, the younger man's green eyes were shining with a knowing light. Damnation!
“So”, Dean said, “I am here in Hundeslow (1) to claim my reward, o brave knight. Especially now the king has signed the Charter (2) down the road at Runnymede, and given into all the baronial demands.”
“Technically he has not signed it”, Castiel pointed out.
“Ah yes, functionally illiterate as well as dumb as a house-brick”, Dean said. “All right, he affixed the royal seal. My reward?”
Castiel silently cursed the chivalric code that prevented him from skewering this annoying young buck right here and now. Surely God had to overlook the occasional mild sin....
The image of Dean in that dress resurfaced, and Castiel's unhelpful brain provided another way that he could skewer the handsome Saxon.
“Maybe next time, when your king lets you down again”, Dean smirked.
“You cannot know what I was thinking”, Castiel protested. The other man glanced downwards.
“In those trousers?” Dean chuckled. “Oh I know, believe you me!”
He produced what looked like a long piece of green silk. Primarily because it was a long piece of green silk. The nobleman's confusion deepened.
“Gossip at the court tells me that they have spotted my locket on your chest”, Dean said with an easy smile. “So you will have no trouble wearing this tomorrow, will you?”
It suddenly hit home. Castiel paled.
“The tournament!” he exclaimed. Dean nodded.
“Yes”, he said. “You will wear my favour, and no other, when you ride into battle. And everyone will know for sure that you are taken.”
Somehow he had edged closer to the nobleman without seeming to move. Castiel drew a deep breath.
“Because”, Dean growled, “one day very soon, you will be.”
“Will be what?” the nobleman managed, his breahting suddenly difficult. Dean grinned.
“Taken!” he said.
Castiel coughed. It was a very high-pitched cough. Dean smirked.
“But not yet”, Dean said. “You and your king will soon have troubles a plenty.”
“Why?” Castiel asked, trying to pull himself together.
“The barons cannot take on the king without some external help”, Dean said simply. “They will invite the king of Scots to invade. He will be over the Border by the end of the year.”
“He barely survived a revolt against him when he became king last year”, Castiel scoffed. “There is no way he would dare....”
Too late, he recognized that look.
“Want to bet on it?”
Not a chance in hell! Absolutely not! No way!
1) Now Hounslow, part of Greater London.
2) Then called the Charter of Liberties. It obtained its more famous name when reissued in 1217 along with a second, separate part covering forest laws. The original one then became the Great Charter, or Magna Carta.
Chapter 7: Sixth Lay
It starts with angry panting, and ends with lacy panties.
Windsor, Berkshire (25 miles west of London)
Jethtro was a palace guard. As such, he was paid to keep some people out of the king's palace and, occasionally, to keep some people in the dungeon accommodation (best described as Spartan). And apart from the great Marshall who was in talking with the idi – sorry, His Royal Highness – right now, he knew that it was his job to stop anyone else getting....
Jethro might be over six foot tall and pretty muscular, but the sight of Lord Castiel of Colingburn striding purposefully towards his gateway across the greensward was... well, not a good one.
“Open the bloody gate, Phil!” he hissed at his fellow guard. Phil yawned.
“We've got orders to....”
He stopped, noting Jethro's gesture across the greensward. Following his gaze, he saw what was descending upon them. Coincidentally, both men silently thanked their mothers for making them change their underwear that day. Phil rushed to start the mechanism.
“I'm opening, I'm opening!”
Failing to find Dean in his room had not exactly improved Lord Castiel's simmering temper, and he only narrowly refrained from barking at the servant who told him that the man was in the training-rooms. Murdering someone only yards away from the king would be a bad thing.
He spared an angry glance heavenwards. A little flexibility here?
Sure enough, Dean was there. A bare-chested Dean, flushed from his workout. Castiel was not pleased to see him.
(Most of Castiel was not pleased to see him. And the part that was could shut the fuck up right now!).
“Hullo, Cas!” Dean grinned, as if they were old friends. “How goes the Scottish invasion that you were sure wouldn't happen... oh wait, it happened, didn't it?”
Castiel gripped the pommel of his sword tightly.
“You just got lucky”, he griped, not adding the 'again'. All right. What do you want this time?”
That knowing look on the Saxon's face scared him much more than he would ever admit. Dean sauntered over to the bag that presumably held a change of clothes, and then looked at the nobleman.
“The king is holding an investiture tomorrow”, he said. “Then there'll be a big dinner with all your fellow nobs.”
Castiel winced at his coarseness.
“And?” he pressed. Dean's grin widened.
“I have something else for you to wear to that particular event”, he said.
“Another pendant?” Castiel asked.
Dean shook his head, and pulled something blue out of his bag. Then he opened it out and.....
Castiel doubted that he had ever gone so pale quite so rapidly.
“Are those..... ladies' panties?” he asked in horror.
Dean just smirked at him. It took someone as clever as Lord Castiel of Colingburn way too long to put it all together.
“You must be bloody joking!”
Castiel took the precaution of placing the... 'item' in his left pocket. The last thing he wanted was to accidentally pull it out in polite society. People would.... well, he would have to flee the country and have done with it!
“Such a good boy!” Dean purred. “And so easily gulled.”
“You have just been lucky so far”, Castiel sniped, trying to still his breathing. He was not aroused by having to wear that awful garment to a royal event. He was not!
Dean smirked and glanced downwards. Evidently some part of Castiel was aroused all right!
“The king will crush his Scottish rival”, Castiel said confidently, “and then he will return south and deal with the rebel barons.”
Dean just shook his head.
“Whilst the cat's away, the mice will play”, he said. “The barons will use that time to find a new figure to rally round. Someone they can replace the king with.”
“That is treason!” Castiel protested.
“That is politics”, Dean grinned. “Your king is a loser, Cas. Even if he does manage to avoid stuffing up dealing with the un-mighty King of Scots, he will never get London back.”
“And why not?” Castiel demanded hotly. “How, pray, are the barons going to stop him?”
“They will unite behind the blood of the king's sibling”, Dean said confidently.
Castiel felt his mood improving at once. Because he guessed that Dean could only mean the daughter of John's late elder brother Geoffrey of Brittany, Lady Eleanor – who, unbeknownst to the Saxon, was about to be secretly moved to a new and more secure castle. Hah!
“You're on!” he said.
Chapter 8: Seventh Lay
St. Albans, Hertfordshire (25 miles north-west of London)
This was holy ground, Castiel reminded himself as he followed the lay brother's directions through the maze of corridors. So any shedding of blood would be frowned upon. No matter how merited.
Damn, but that bastard Saxon had done him again! He had been sure that Dean would have been proven wrong over the barons rallying behind the imprisoned Eleanor of Brittany, and indeed, they had not done so.
And yet he had lost the damn wager anyway!
There was the sound of someone being tortured from behind the door. Either that, or the damn Saxon was singing for some daft reason. Castiel gripped the pommel of his sword, uttered a silent prayer for whatever help the Heavenly Father was disposed to give in the forthcoming encounter, and entered without knocking.
And that was a mistake. Because there was a large tin bath full of steaming water, and next to it, one large blond Saxon.
Lord Castiel of Colingburn really needed to get some new clothes; his current ones were suddenly so tight, he had difficulty in breathing. Still, the annoying smirk was the same as ever, even if the nobleman's eyes were.... nononono, not there!
Holy Mother of God!
And now It was rising up, taking the nobleman's reluctant gaze with it. He dragged his traitorous eyes up to the annoying smirk.
“Wel, well”, Dean said, his eyes alight with his triumph. “So the barons are rallying behind Count Louis of France who is.... oh my, King John's nephew. I mean, who could possibly have predicted that?”
'Unfortunate Saxon drowns in freak accident', part of Castiel's brain supplied. It was better than the suggestions coming from other parts, which were mostly horizontal, and distinctly unhelpful.
“All right, I did not think the barons would support the King of France's son and heir”, Castiel admitted reluctantly. “What do you want?”
Dean's smirk widened, and he looked hungrily at the nobleman. Then down at the steaming waters. Then back at Lord Castiel again.
It should not have been possible to shiver in a hot bath, but Lord Castiel of Colingburn was managing it. And the reason was not just the hunky naked Saxon behind him, whose strong arms were wrapped around his body and whose hands were poised far too low for common decency.
(He was naked in a bath with another man, part of his brain reminded him. Common decency was not just long gone, but probably on a longship halfway to Norway!).
No, the naked bodies part was.... tolerable. It was what was pushing against the nobleman's backside that was..... not so tolerable.
And why did his body suddenly have to have a mind of its own, and take to grinding against the larger man? Castiel shuddered again.
“I scare you”, Dean muttered into his ear. “Interesting.”
Castiel was about to come back with a snarky reproof when one of the Saxon's hands suddenly dropped several inches, and wrapped itself firmly around a Little Castiel who was, annoyingy, registering more than satisfaction at this turn of events. Dean pushed him closer, and closer, and closer......
... And then he stopped.
“You bastard!” Castiel hissed. “Finish what you started, damn you!”
He could hear the smirk.
“Say please, my lord”, came the teasing rejoinder.
The thought of having to find somewhere else in this holy place to beat one off was too much for the nobleman.
“Please, damn you!”
And with that he not only resumed his handiwork, but his other hand somehow then managed to get to Castiel's balls, and tickle them. The nobleman went off like a rocket!
Lord Castiel of Colingburn was now of the opinion that, in all probability, any hopes he may have entertained of feigning complete and utter disinterest in the handsome Saxon had been somewhat reduced. Probably.
“You just got lucky again”, he managed, pulling his clothes back on and deliberately not looking at the gorgeous man towelling off across the room. Dean smirked.
“Your king is a loser”, he said simply. “Within a threemonth, he will be trying to hide behind a woman's skirts.”
“The king would never do that”, Castiel said firmly. The Angevin was a poor monarch, but he had some standards. Dean casually threw the towel across the room and (quite deliberately in the nobleman's opinion) turned to bend down to pull on his underpants, presenting a perfect butt to view.
No, there was no drool.
Well, not much.
“Want to bet?” Dean grinned. “Because the forfeit next time will take you to.... rock bottom!”
Castiel shuddered. This man was going to be the death of him!
Chapter 9: Eighth Lay
Those who go down to the sea.....
Swanwick, Dorsetshire (130 miles south-west of London)
Although his main estate was at Colingburn in the county of Wiltshire, Lord Castiel like most landowners owned a number of properties elsewhere in the country. None of them was anywhere near the king's castle on the Isle of Purbeck at Corvesgate (1), but he still went there anyway. The thought of what that handsome Saxon had promised last time.....
Thank God he had worn the loose trousers today!
Annoyingly his quarry was not at the royal castle. Corvesgate was only a small place, and the Marshall had decided to base some of his men in the nearby town of Swanwick (2). He was however pleased to find Miss Charlotta, a fiery red-headed lady who kept the servants in order and, Castiel knew, annoyed Dean no end by always referring to him as 'her handmaiden'. He wondered how Dean would look in a dress....
Yes, the loose trousers had been a very good idea today!
Swanwick was a pleasant enough little place by the sea, and the nobleman was directed to a small house right at the end of the long bay where a certain blond Saxon was based.
It was raining slightly, so Castiel was a little surprised to be told on his arrival that Dean had gone for a walk along the coast. The landlady – a short, young woman called Mistress Margaret who clearly had something in her eye, the way she kept winking at him – said that her guest often went a half a mile round the end of the bay, where there was a small and little-used beach. Sighing, Castiel followed him there.
Sure enough, Dean was at the beach. More specifically, Dean was in the water. And judging from the large pile of clothing on the stones....
Lord Castiel of Colingburn actually felt light-headed with so much blood rushing to his lower brain. And someone's smirk was even more annoying than he remembered.
“Hey, Cas!” the Saxon called out. “So the king wasn't going to try to hide behind a woman's skirts, huh?”
Castiel ground his teeth, and reminded himself that making off with the man's clothing would be childish. And fun..... no, childish.
“So he tried to persuade his imprisoned niece (3) to back his claim”, he growled. “A reasonable request, given she stands to lose if her uncle loses the throne.”
“Quite unreasonable, seeing as how he has been holding her under house-arrest for the past decade and more”, Dean grinned.
The nobleman was reminded that the devil took many forms to tempt people from the paths of righteousness, even of some of them were very attrac.....
He pulled himself together and took a deep breath, remembering the Saxon shaking his butt at the last wager.
“What do you want?” he demanded.
Dean stood up, and walked slowly out of the water to stand before the slightly shorter man. Castiel did not drool. He merely wiped the rain away from his mouth.
“I have something else for you to wear”, Dean grinned. “And this time, you have to wear it for a whole week. You can only don it four times a day, and even then only for a few minutes each time.”
Castiel frowned as the Saxon strutted past him – it was definitely a strut, the bastard! - and then deliberately leant over the pile of clothes, giving the nobleman an eyeful that had him instinctively moving across the beach towards....
“Not yet!” Dean said, and turned to smile at the other man. He had clearly heard the crunch of stones that the involuntary movement had caused. “Here you are.”
He opened his hand, and Castiel stared in puzzlement at the item in it. When realization finally dawned.....
“You must be fucking joking!”
Lord Castiel of Colinbgburn walked very slowly and carefully back along with his companion to the house. Even so, every uneven step jarred the.... thing currently nestling in his backside. It was insanely hot.
Degrading! He had meant to think 'insanely degrading', damnation!
“Look on the bright side”, Dean said with a smile. “When the king starts out on his doomed attempt to take London, you will be able to ride with him. And you will have that reminder of me at every one of your noble mount's steps.”
Castiel coughed. It successfully hid the whimper thought not, it seemed, successfully enough, judging from the smirk.
“The king will be in London by winter”, he said confidently, “and he will have regained his crown.”
“On the contrary”, Dean smiled. “By winter, he will have lost his crown forever.”
“You underestimate the Angevin”, Castiel said, his eyes watering at an uneven step. Dean grinned.
“Well”, he said, “next time, the forfeit will be considerable. Choose carefully, my lord, before you once again back a loser.”
1) Now Corfe Castle.
2) Now Swanage.
3) Despite occasional attempts to use her as a political pawn, Eleanor would be kept under house-arrest until her death in 1241.
Chapter 10: Ninth Lay
Castiel has to endure a LONG ride.
Lord Castiel of Colingburn had long ago decided that gossip was a cruel thing. Cruel and, most times, unerringly accurate.
He had just paid his respects to Mary Winchester, widow of the late merchant John who, it seemed, had been caught once again in the wrong bed. And fatally for him, the bed of one the daughter of one of the chief rebel barons.
He was still in the same bed. And over it. And under it. And in the wardrobe. The lady's brother, a champion swordsman, had been Displeased.
Mary Winchester had graciously accepted the young nobleman's platitudes, and had not smirked at all at his discomfort when he had sat down. Nor the slight but notable change in his walk as he went to talk to her eldest son.
All right, she had smirked. So sue her!
Castiel could not believe that the bastard Saxon had not known what would happen after he agreed to wear that damn torture device! Returning to Corvesgate, the king had set off to try to gather his strength before moving on London, and had circled the capital via the cathedral city of Welle (1) before advancing to Oxenford (2). One hundred and seventy miles of agony, not helped by the fact that a certain bow-legged someone would occasionally ride up alongside and smirk at him. As if he needed an erec... more problems!
Then, the king had decided that London was too strong against him, and had embarked on a tour of the East Country to try to raise support there. He had move via Grantbridge (3) to Grimsby – over two hundred and twenty more miles in the saddle, damnation! - then doubled back to Bishop's Lynn (4) before turning again and making for Newich (5). And then – disaster!
The young nobleman did not even knock before entering the room. Dean was, predictably, sat up in bed despite the late hour, and part of Castiel perked up immediately at that bare chest. The Saxon grinned.
“Hullo, both of you!”
Castiel gritted his teeth. The king had been visibly fading at Lynn, and if he had died, then the grinning ha'porth before him would have lost his wager. But of course, the nobleman had not been that lucky. John had sent the carts carrying the crown jewels on a short-cut across the sands of the Wash Estuary, and they had been caught by the incoming tide and sunk without trace. The king had indeed lost his crown, and had died at Newich soon after being told the dreadful news.
“I did not know you meant the physical crown”, he ground out. “And now Count Louis is here in London, and will be crowned sooner or later.”
“It was good of the Marshall to spare you, considering he must be in Gloucester by now”, Dean grinned. “I left you at Lynn when I heard the news of my father's untimely passing. What is that now – over seven hundred miles in the saddle?”
It should not have been possible to blush with an erection, but Lord Castiel of Colingburn managed it.
“I am a man of my word”, he said firmly. “What do you want this time?”
Dean seemed to think about that.
“I want you to wear my ring”, he said at last.
Castiel's eyes narrowed. That seemed far too easy. Then the Saxon leant over to the bedside cabinet – ye Gods, he wore nothing under that sheet! - and got something, which he held out to the nobleman. Castiel frowned.
“That is too small for my wrist”, he said.
“It is not for your wrist”, he said casually.
Again, it took a smart man like Lord Castiel rather too long to realize....
This was torture! Dean of Winchester was really a demon, sent to make Lord Castiel of Colingburn suffer. Healthy young men needed their release ever day – several times, some days – so how was he going to.....
And the ring was damn cold down there!
“You cannot always get lucky!” the nobleman growled.
“Yet I always seem to”, Dean smirked, draping the thin sheet so low that the watching man felt himself grow even harder, his eyes watering with the effort. “You are for Gloucester?”
Castiel sighed. At least the Saxon had removed the plug before clipping on the ring. Out of the frying-pan.....
“The Marshall wants to crown Prince Henry there”, he said. “But most of the barons are for the French count. It is hopeless.”
“Not for long”, Dean said cheerily. “Within a threemonth, Louis will say something that will prevent the count from ever actually being crowned king.”
“He would not be that stupid!” Castiel said scornfully.
Dean waggled his eyebrows at him. It was not the least bit sexy, and Castiel's lower brain could shut up right now, damn it!
“Want to bet on it?”
1) Now the cathedral city of Wells, Somerset.
2) Now Oxford.
3) Now Cambridge.
4) Now King's Lynn.
5) Now Newark-on-Trent.
Chapter 11: Tenth Lay
Another barn encounter.
Samuel Winchester was, as one of his contemporaries had accurately described him, 'built like a brick outhouse'. And there were few things that he thought twice about before marching up to and confronting.
The sight of Lord Castiel of Colingburn crossing the estate yard and heading straight towards the barn where, Samuel knew, his brother Dean was working – why yes, that was on the list.
“What is it?” Jessica asked. Her father had, at last, agreed to accept the younger Winchester's suit for his daughter, albeit only after a certain surprise development the other week.
She joined her future husband at the window and looked at the scene before them.
“Oh dear”, she said. “He does not look happy!”
Castiel threw open the doors to the barn and stormed inside. Sure enough, the annoying Saxon know-all was there, sorting out the remaining stores of hay. He looked up at the nobleman and smirked.
“I cannot believe it! Castiel seethed. “How in God's name could you know?”
It had seemed such a sure bet. Count Louis of France was not the most inspiring leader, but he was careful. Castiel had been sure that he would never say anything dumb enough to damage his own cause.
Except, of course, that had not been what Dean had wagered. The smirking bastard before him, who was sauntering over to close the barn door against the slow February rains had said that 'Louis' would doom the Frenchman's cause. And now it was all round England that the Count of Melun – yes, called Louis – had, on being mortally wounded at the siege of Dover, decided to shorten his stay in Purgatory by confessing to the English barons supporting his liege lord just what the Frenchman had planned for them once he was safely crowned. Safe to say, it had not exactly helped the Frenchman's cause. Even the great Marshall was now edging nearer to London with his young charge, making several leading barons seriously reconsider their options.
“I did say Louis would ruin everything”, Dean grinned. “Was I right or was I right?”
Castiel seethed, and something in him snapped. Striding up to the slightly taller man, he pulled him into a fierce kiss, that went on so long that they were both gasping when he finally pulled back.
Incredibly, the smirk was even wider.
“My lord”, Dean growled. “Well, are you ready to pay your forfeit?”
Lord Castiel of Colingburn was still trying to remember which way was up.
“What?” he asked.
Dean grinned, and reached inside the shorter man's trousers. His grin widened.
“You are wearing it still”, he smiled. “Good boy!”
And before the nobleman could object, the flaxen Saxon had not only unclipped the torture device, but had his hand firmly wrapped around a Little Castiel that was mighty pleased to see him. Castiel arched his back and whined, and surrendered himself until....
“But I want more than that”, Dean said, suddenly serious. “My brother Sammy has got engaged to one Mistress Jessica Moore, and her father only agreed to it on condition that he inherit the Winchester estate.”
Castiel took a deep breath and tried to pull himself together.
“What?” he managed, in what was far too high-pitched a voice. “But what about you?”
“I am betting that you have a... position on your estate for me”, he purred. “Preferably a horizontal one. Or vertical. I am... flexible.”
Castiel looked hard at him.
“You certainly seem to know what is going on”, he said carefully. “I suppose that I could be persuaded.”
“Do you require more 'persuasion' right now?” Dean grinned.
Castiel spared an angry thought for his dick, which incredibly was getting hard again at the prospect. And worse, Dean immediately looked down.
“Another wager, then”, the Saxon smiled. “Within three months the French count's cause will be doomed by.... lemon? No, by lime. Yes, that is it.”
Castiel looked at him warily.
“And if I am right”, Dean grinned, “then next time, you can be acquainted with my dick. Intimately!”
The nobleman shuddered. Because from what he had seen before....
Down boy, down!
Chapter 12: Eleventh Lay
Castiel takes it like a (noble)man - more than once!
Castiel was almost resigned as he walked into his the property he had purchased from Mary Winchester to find a familiar green-eyed smirk waiting for him.
“Well?” Dean grinned.
“At least let me get my coat off”, Castiel grumbled.
“Why stop at the coat?” Dean said, his eyes dancing with mischief. “It is late, and there is a bed upstairs that is all ready for you. Or will be, once we are both naked in it.”
Castiel shook his head at him, but donned his coat.
“Well?” Dean asked again.
“You were right, as always”, the nobleman sighed. “The forces sent by King Philip to support his son were defeated off Sandwich yesterday. That, coupled with the defeat he had at Lincoln four days back, mean he is doomed. England will have a boy-king, God help it!”
Castiel scowled at him.
“I thought you meant fruit”, he complained, as they both went upstairs. “The English commander led his ships past the French – he was totally outnumbered – and then released bags of quicklime, which the wind carried into his enemies' faces. They were blinded, and soon overpowered. But it was quicklime, not lime.”
“Which everyone calls lime anyway”, Dean countered, “hence the term limestone. Come on, my lord. Time to seal the deal!”
If he had had any dignity left, Lord Castiel of Colingburn would have been mortified at the noises that he was putting out. Fortunately his dignity had fled the capital once the Saxon had breached him with the first of what had turned out to be four fingers.
“What are you doing back there?” the nobleman grunted. “Looking for Mecca?”
Annoyingly, he could somehow still hear the smirk in his new steward's voice.
“Just servicing my master”, Dean said smoothly. “So, my liege. Are? You? Ready?”
Castiel rolled his eyes at the drama queen who now had two... no, three fingers inside of him.
“Just get on with it”, he grunted. “I haven't got.... oh fuck me!”
“All right”, Dean grinned. “Seeing as you ask so nicely.”
And with that he proceeded to set Castiel's innards on fire. The noises that the Saxon had been extracting from the smaller man beforehand were as nothing compared to the wild keening that the dark-haired nobleman was putting out now; Castiel arched his back and tried to scream, but with most of his blood supply currently being diverted to his inner brain, only an inhuman wail (not, as some bastard later claimed, a 'girly shriek') came out. This was absolute Heaven! This was bliss! This was....
And then Dean's hand – Dean's very cold hand, damnation! - suddenly wrapped itself around the nobleman's erect cock. Castiel went off like a rocket and, to his eternal shame, promptly passed out.
He came to to find that the Saxon had cleaned them both up, and that Lord Castiel of Colingburn was currently lying in his new steward's arms in what was most definitely... a manly embrace. Yes, that was what it was.
“I can hear you smirking!” the nobleman grumbled. “Don't rub it in.”
“Maybe I'll try that later”, Dean mused, playing with Castiel's hair. “At least we can all get back to a quiet life now that the mess caused by our late and un-lamented monarch has been cleaned up. The Marshall can run the country in his son's name, the Frenchman can be paid off, and we can all go about pretending that everything is fine.”
Castiel paused, then pulled himself up to lie on top of the taller man.
“Is everything not fine?” he asked curiously.
“The barons challenged the authority of the king”, Dean pointed out. “When the boy-king grows up, he may choose to let that lie – or he may try to reset things to back the way they were, with the king as an absolute ruler. If he does.... then we will be back for Round Two later. Which reminds me.....”
Castiel looked at him in confusion. Dean grinned, and waggled his eyebrows at him.
“Round Two?” the Saxon smirked. “On your back, my liege!”
Castiel groaned, but did as he was told. It was going to be a long, hard evening.
With any luck!
Chapter 13: Twelfth Lay
Castiel makes an interesting discovery.
Lord Castiel of Colingburn was not mad. He was not cross. He was not angry.
He was absolutely bloody furious!
He managed to control himself enough to hand his horse over to his servants, and strode angrily into the house. Where was that bastard green-eyed steward of his?
There was no sign of Dean below, so the nobleman stomped upstairs to their bedroom. Sure enough, some lazy son of a Saxon was lying in bed, having probably spent the two hours or so since Castiel had left him after their most pleasant morning....
No! He was mad at the bow-legged traitor, and he would stay mad.
Dean grinned at his lover's noisy entrance and, quite deliberately, lowered the sheet down his bare chest. Castiel was only momentarily distracted (all right, there may have been some drool) before he pulled himself together.
“Guess who I met today?” he growled.
The smirk was even more annoying than usual.
“No idea”, Dean smiled lazily. “Can I try to fuck the answer out of you?”
Castiel spared a quick thought for that part of his anatomy which leapt up at the prospect. And a second thought for the fact that his lover knew that full well.
“A Mistress Pamela Barnes!” he ground out.
“Oh, Pammie”, Dean grinned. “How's she doing?”
Castiel strode over to the side of the bed and glared down at the Saxon, with a look that should have had him going up in flames. Unfortunately it did not.
“The Mistress Pamela Barnes who, everyone knows, is the Royal Seer”, he said angrily. “You know, banned from betting on sporting events because she always knows the outcome. And yet, she has been getting someone to place bets for her. Guess who – and I will give you a hint. His name is Dean bloody Winchester!”
He was shouting by the time he had finished. The Saxon's lazy smirk was even more annoying than usual.
“I know”, Dean said. “She sent me a note that she was going to meet you, and to be prepared. That is why I'm wearing the plug.”
And Lord Castiel of Colingburn went straight from barely controlled fury to hyperventilation. He almost tore the sheet off the bed, and found that his lover was all too correct.
“Right!” he snarled. “We're going to have our own version of the Norman Invasion right here and now, Saxon!”
“Go for it!” Dean grinned.
So Castiel did.
The following Sunday, Lord Castiel of Colingburn made a larger than usual donation in church. And from the yelp the nobleman made when he sat on the hard pew, the vicar knew damn well not to ask why!
Chapter 14: Epilogue
It ends with a dressing-down.
Colingburn, Wiltshire (80 miles west of London)
Outside, a flock of birds took off hurriedly as the last moans died away in the cold Wiltshire air. Lord Castiel was sure that, at some time in the relatively non-distant future, he would be able to walk again. Or move. Or at least attempt complicated facial expressions.
A green-eyed demon swung into view above him, smirking far too noisily.
“So”, he said, far too knowingly. “I told you I would look good in a dress. And even better out of it!"
Castiel knew, even if the effort of thinking about it hurt his head, that said dress was currently lying in shreds on the floor. Damn bastard Saxon had known what it would do to him to come up and find him.... well, a man had to to what a man had to do.
He just hurt!
“You are trying to kill me!” he managed. “I am broken!”
“Look on the bright side”, Dean said, far too chirpily. “When you go to church tomorrow, you will have a whole lot more sins to confess!”
Castiel moaned as he shifted his position in bed. The handsome Saxon loomed over him.
“Although”, he growled, “I am sure that I can use the intervening twenty-four hours to add a few more!”
Yes, he was definitely trying to kill Castiel. Well, let him try! The nobleman was made of strong stuff and he could withstand any.....
Oh Lord above, not there!
Downstairs, Samandriel hastily adjusted his earplugs. Yes, he was glad that he or his offspring would one day inherit his cousin's estate, but really? Again?
Apparently again. And again!
Chapter 15: Magna Carta: A Summary
The document that gave us the right to do as we like, as long as we do as we're told.
The original 1215 Charter of Liberties was re-issued as Magna Carta in 1217, and again several times thereafter (usually every time the reigning monarch was squarely in the you-know-what!). It was mainly a peace treaty dealing with the here and now, but the most important bits in both versions were:
1) Trial by peers. This was when you were taken to the sea and thrown off the.... oh sorry, wrong peer. This ended the ability of the king to have people who opposed him tried (tried = convicted = executed) by his own placemen. The idea of extending that right to the common people would almost certainly have horrified the English barons.
2) Justice not to be sold, delayed or denied to anyone. The king, and for that matter many rich barons, could often win cases by spinning them out until their opponents ran out of money.
3) Guaranteeing the rights of the cities, particularly London.
4) Securing the rights of the English Church. These four are the only parts that are still in themselves part of English law, although most of the other points have been covered by later laws.
5) Regular lawsuits to be heard away from wherever the royal court was. This seemingly small change proved one of the most explosive in the long term, for it made people view 'the law' and 'the king' as two different institutions – which meant, eventually, that they reasoned that the king too should be subject to the law.
6) Fairer parliaments. Unless he was desperate for money the king could usually restrict those invited to parliament to people he liked, plus a few who were just too powerful to ignore. This too would have an important and unintended consequence; to try to weaken the baronial influence, kings would in future invite more of the lower orders to such sessions, and naturally the 'Lords' took to sitting separately, not wishing to mingle with the 'Commons'.
7) Scutage to be heavily restricted. This 'shield-tax' had become popular with kings who needed men to fight for more than the standard forty days, as it enabled vassals to 'buy out' their service and usually led to better quality troops. Kings had taken to demanding it so often that the barons demanded consultation (as in a parliament) beforehand.
8) An end to unlawful land seizures. This particularly covered abuse of wards of court (underage inheritors), in which the king would sell the wardship to a relative for a cut of the estate, and said relative would then bleed the remaining estate dry so there would be little left when the boy reached adulthood.
9) No disparagement. This meant forcing widows or young girls to marry those of lower social classes for money – basically selling their titles.
10) No more unlawful seizures of a debtor's assets when they could meet their debts. It had hitherto been possible to seize absolutely everything someone possessed, even if they owed just a small debt.
11) No more unnecessary purveyance (seizing of whatever the king needed in times of war) without immediate payment. Smaller barons could be ruined by the king doing this and promising payment 'some time in the future'.
12) No more foreign mercenaries. There being no standing army, the power of highly-trained mercenaries was much greater, and rightly feared by the barons. John broke this one almost at once.
13) No more kiddles. Nothing to do with banning kids (pity!); kiddles were a system of weirs and traps that did for rivers what forest law did for lands. They had often resulted in rivers silting up and trade downstream being disrupted, but the penalties for interfering with them were Draconian.
14) Restrictions on usury. This had the effect of driving many Jewish moneylenders out of London; the barons hated them not just for their religion but because they helped keep royal finances fairly solvent. And of course if they were forced to leave, any debts the barons owed them would most happily leave with them. Bye bye!
The difference between the two versions two years apart were mainly twofold. In the 1217 Charter, William Marshall added on a second part, the Charter of the Forest ('the Parva Carta'). This imposed heavy curbs on afforestation. This meant that the king could no longer grab huge swathes of land simply by declaring it 'forest' (i.e. royal hunting land), and was aimed at winning over the barons from supporting King Louis. Marshall also dropped one key clause from the original, which had given the barons the right to form a council of twenty-five members jointly with the king to, ahem, 'help' him govern. As if a fully-grown King Henry III would turn out to be so dumb that he needed....