FADE UP TITLE
Slowly, word by word.
"to the living we owe respect,
to the dead only truth"
FADE OUT TITLE
EXT. FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE - DAY
ANGLE FROM BELOW: The castle, symbol of the power of the
Middle Ages, stands silhouetted against a sky in which storm clouds gather.
England, the middle of the fifteenth century; a land on the edge of chaos, awaiting the spark to set alight a civil war and engulf it’s peace.
WIDE ANGLE: Helicopter
shot. Camera swoops down from the sky, circles the castle, moves in.
NARRATION (V/O) (CONT’D)
A king more interested in prayer than ruling, lost all England’s lands in France, save Calais. Hundreds of soldiers returned home looking for work, and found none.
wind picks up. Trees outside the castle walls sway back and forth. The camera sways with the wind. Drops to the ground.
NARRATION (V/O) (CONT’D)
The richest landowner, Richard, Duke of York, with a better claim to the throne than King Henry the Sixth who sat on it, named heir, expected a place on the council, but King Henry’s
French Queen Margaret refused. Setting her face against the duke, she turned him into an enemy. York knew he would have to take a stand, or lose all. Then, miraculously it seemed to most, the queen produced a son.
Guards patrol the battlements.
Thunder rumbles in the distance.
In the autumn of the year 1452 at the main York family home, York’s duchess was again about to add to their own already large royal family.
HOME OF THE HOUSE OF YORK
Buffeted by the wind, anxious eyes looking to the heavens, people move across the drawbridge, around the inner courtyard of the castle, in and out the huge central stone Keep.
The banner of The House of York, the Falcon and Fetterlock, flutters wildly, straining to escape the pole attaching it to the roof of the Keep.
A figure gallops up to the drawbridge, slowing to cross into the courtyard.
The reins of his mount are grabbed by a servant, his livery uniform coloured Murrey,
a purplish shade, and Blue, stitched together in quarters. The rider leaps from the saddle and runs into the gloom of the Keep.
FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE. THE KEEP. AFTERNOON.
He is SIR THOMAS HARRINGTON, a rugged man in his early thirties. He throws back his cloak. He too is dressed in the livery
of the House of York, Falcon and Fetterlock insignia of the Duke of York in the top right corner.
There is much activity around the Great Hall, as the coming storm creates near panic
inside the massive stone walls.
Candles and large spluttering tallows are being lit to illuminate the increasing gloom, wooden shutters are closed over the windows, the massive fires
Irish wolf hounds lope back and forth, getting under everyone's feet.
Sir Thomas greets, is
recognised by, numerous people as he passes through the crowded hall. He spots the Steward of the Household, SIR JOHN CONYERS, who carries a white wand of office. Sir Thomas pushes through the crowd to him, hands him a packet of letters, salutes, and backs
away into the crowd.
Sir John, in charge of all in the castle, leaves the hall up a stairway behind him, through a doorway that is opened as if by magic at his approach.
INT. FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE - THE SOLAR - DAY
John takes a couple of steps into a small and comfortable room. Tapestries hang on the walls, clean rushes cover the floor, and glass is in the windows.
A large fire roars in the
imposing stone fireplace, close to which sits a heavily pregnant woman.
This is DUCHESS CICELY OF YORK. She is 37, considered beautiful. Her long, strawberry blonde hair hangs freely
about her shoulders. She has an almost divine glow.
The Duchess looks up at Sir John, and he bows to her. She nods and smiles in acknowledgement.
She pushes herself to her feet, dismissing the attentions of the two of her four fussing ladies in waiting who reach to help her. Standing she is tall and elegant, very much in command.
One of her ladies, MATILDA, a chubby woman, of about the same age as the duchess, also very pregnant, leans in to smooth down the Duchess’ dress.
Do not fuss Matilda. We are going to be late for Mass. Storm or no storm, I will not miss the service.
As you wish my lady.
Lend me your arm for support then, and we can be on our way.
Sir John moves forward and offers her the package of letters.
From my husband?
SIR JOHN CONYERS
No, your grace
She shakes her head.
After Mass then John.
Sir John bows, pockets the letters, steps back.
and Matilda move down the stairway into the main hall, and turn to the left.
As the Duchess passes through the centre of the castle, the men bow their heads, the women curtsy. This
almost royal progress ends as the Duchess goes up a narrow staircase at the far corner into a small but richly decorated chapel.
FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE. THE CHAPEL - DAY
A PRIEST and an ALTAR BOY stand to one side of the altar. The Duchess moves to the front, past the dozen other waiting household
members, who all bow to her, and sits in a high backed wooden chair to the right of the nave. There are no other seats in the chapel. The priest approaches the Duchess, and bows deeply.
I trust Your Grace is well, this stormy afternoon?
Yes, thank you, Father Paul.
A stained glass window above the altar lights up as lightning streaks across the sky outside.
The Duchess looks from the window to the priest.
Best move along fast before the elements make it impossible to hear the words. Our Lord is waiting.
The priest smiles and bows again. The altar boy behind him, smiles sheepishly up at the Duchess, who smiles back.
punctuates the scene.
Priest and boy turn to begin the Mass.
MONTAGE: THE CEREMONY
OF THE MASS.
ANGLES: Close ups of the Duchess, Matilda, the ladies in waiting, the priest, the incense burning, the altar boy, other people in the chapel; flashes of lightning through
the stained glass; flashes of light on faces; the wall paintings of saints, Purgatory, Heaven and Hell.
A huge clap of thunder climaxes the storm, startling the altar boy who knocks
over the wine cup and stains the altar cloth red.
At the same moment the Duchess rises, clutching her vast abdomen. The boy stares at the stain he has made, looks up suddenly as the
Duchess cries out.
Dear God, no! It is too soon!
My lady! What
My waters have broken. Help me to my bed Matilda. The child is
on it's way. Send for the midwife.
With amazing dignity, the Duchess and Matilda leave the chapel, disappearing into the darkness of the doorway.
EXT. FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE - DAY
Matilda emerges from the darkness of the main doorway of
the Keep pushing a MAN AT ARMS, PETER, down the steps of the Keep towards the gateway leading to the village. The rain falls heavily.
Pulling her hood up over her head, Matilda shouts
above the din of the storm.
For God's sake Peter, hurry! Fetch the midwife!
The man grunts, and moves off across a courtyard that is turning to a lake of gooey mud.
Run you dolt!
back, terrified, breaks into a trot, mud splashing up his legs and tunic.
Matilda grunts and turns back inside.
INT. FOTHERINGHAY CASTLE - DUCHESS CICELY'S BED CHAMBER - EARLY EVENING
The Duchess is settled into her
cushion and fur covered bed.
Two kitchen boys lift a cauldron of water onto a spit above a brightly burning fire, sneaking looks over their shoulders at the bed and the Duchess.
Their task done, they are pushed from the room by another LADY IN WAITING.
now! This is no place for boys!
The Duchess’ linen nightshirt is patchy with sweat. Her hair hangs about her face and shoulders.
Duchess Cecily tries to conceal the pain she is in.
The women show their concern.
The Duchess is relieved to see Matilda return.
Help me here Matilda.
The girls forget this is not my first lying in! They are fussing so.
Matilda takes charge and helps her mistress settle.
They were not in your service then, Madam, and the child is early. This time, even I am concerned.
As Matilda pumps up her pillows the Duchess pulls her close and whispers to her.
Any news of my husband?
No, my lady.
The dispatches were not from DukeRichard. Remember?
Can I not get word
to hi....? Ahh!
A spasm takes her and she does not finish the last word.
I shall do my best, milady.
She turns to Edith.
Send another man for the midwife. Peter must have been swept away by the storm!
The Duchess lets out another muffled scream.
Matilda, full of concern, turns back to her charge.
Duchess Cecily yielding to the pain, reaches out and grabs
hold of Matilda's hand.
The midwife will soon be here, milady.
He may have started his journey early, but I fear he could take his time appearing in this world.
He? A son is it Madam?
The Duchess lets out an undisguised cry of pain. She calls out for her husband, but Matilda thinks she is telling her the baby's name.
Richard it shall be, milady. After
The Duchess is about to ask what Matilda means when another spasm hits her. She grips Matilda's hand, and cries out again, her face now pale, sweat pours from her forehead.
INT. DUCHESS CICELY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
The room is darker. The women are grouped around the bed. The light from the fire and the burned down tapers flicker.
The Duchess is barely conscious. She tosses her head back
and forth. Matilda mops her brow.
(to the other women)
Build up the fire, and light some more candles!
At her other end the MIDWIFE, a buxom, dark haired young woman of about
25 is attending to matters.
She is red faced, sweating from the heat and her efforts to coax the baby out of its mother. Her thin linen smock sticks to her ample breasts. She is
only a few weeks from giving birth herself.
The Duchess' mouth opens wide as she once more cries out her husband's name...
She collapses back onto the pillows,
eyes closed, breathing shallow, exhausted.
There is a slap off screen, followed by a baby's cry, as the new child announces itself to the world.
The midwife cleans the baby with white linen strips that turn red as she washes the blood away. She hands the child to Edith who wraps it in clean strips of linen. The Midwife washes herself, glances at the Duchess.
Give her the sleeping draught Lady Matilda. It will help her recover.
Matilda takes the cup from the midwife and administers the draught. The Duchess collapses back onto the pillows, eyes closed.
Sleep now milady. Sleep will make you strong again.
She turns to the Midwife and the other ladies, already clucking over the cleaned and wrapped up baby.
Don't just stand there! Take the child to Father Paul and have him baptised! In case he does not last out the storm.
The women look shocked. Their reaction doesn’t faze Matilda.
We all heard the Duchess call out his name as he arrived. Richard, like his father.
The Midwife clucks over the baby.
Did you hear your mother, Richard? You shall carry your father's name. How proud he will be when he sees you. And you must make him proud of you.
The women leave the room.
INT. DUCHESS CICELY'S BED CHAMBER - MORNING
Only a little smoke rises from the ashes in the fireplace. The fire has died in the grate.
The storm has passed and a thin autumn sun shines in. Matilda dozes in a chair by the bedside.
The Duchess moans
Matilda stirs in her chair. The Duchess smiles weakly. Matilda leans forward and gently takes her hand.
You have another son, milady.
A son? Where is he? Is he well?
Do not fret. The boy seemed weak at first, though he has mighty lungs! The midwife and I are taking special care of him. Go back to sleep. It’s a good sign that Richard still lives.
She smiles benignly and straightens the bedclothes. The Duchess, bleary eyed and sleepy, looks puzzled.
CUT TO BLACK:
ONE WORD MAIN TITLE FILLS SCREEN