Queen Mary Tudor, Was She Out for Revenge? (Thomas Cranmer: Martyred 21 March 1556)

March 21, 2017 in Queens of World History, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

Queen Mary Tudor — Was She Out for Revenge?

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Editor’s Note: This article includes an excerpt from Thomas Cranmer in a Nutshell, by Beth von Staats (MadeGlobal Publishing).

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Thomas Cranmer, England’s first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, has a tainted and complicated legacy. One of world history’s most morally and emotionally conflicted historical figures, Cranmer’s professional life, combined with his wholehearted belief in the scriptural truth of the royal supremacy, left him continuously weighing his religious beliefs, moral centre, family values, and conscience with those of the monarchs he steadfastly served, King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Jane Dudley – and most tragically for Cranmer and those who loved him, also those of the monarch he ardently betrayed, Queen Mary Tudor.

When discussing Thomas Cranmer’s 21 March 1556 tragic martyrdom, sadly commemorated by the Church of England and the Worldwide Anglican Communion today, people often ask for my thoughts of Queen Mary Tudor. Did she orchestrate Cranmer’s downfall, imprisonment, and martyrdom due to her steadfast Roman Catholic belief system? Did she hate Cranmer? Was she out for revenge?

Queen Mary Tudor

Most people assume the answers to these questions to be, “yes, yes, and yes”. After all, Queen Mary Tudor was a devout Roman Catholic. In contrast, Thomas Cranmer believed the Pope to be the antichrist. Queen Mary Tudor believed her mother, Queen Catherine of Aragon, to have been the anointed Queen Consort of England from her marriage to King Henry VIII to the day she died. Thomas Cranmer instead declared Queen Catherine of Aragon’s marriage to the king to be “null and void from the start”, a decision that for all intents and purposes bastardized Mary. In short, at the time of Queen Mary Tudor’s ascension to the throne, beyond King Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, both dead and gone, there was one man left alive thought responsible for Queen Mary’s tragic childhood — her separation from her mother, her loss of her father’s affection, her loss of royal status and succession rights, her life at times at risk of execution. That man was Thomas Cranmer.

Given all we know of Queen Mary Tudor’s life before her ascension, if we are to look solely at her actions taken against Thomas Cranmer in isolation, setting aside the hundreds of others martyred by burning during her reign, would we really find her choice all that surprising? Would we even question it? I hazard to think we would not — but, I also believe it is important to point out in fairness to Queen Mary Tudor’s legacy — and also Thomas Cranmer’s — that there was far more behind Cranmer’s martyrdom than the simple desire by the reigning monarch to exact hate-filled revenge. The fact of the matter is this. Once it became clear that King Edward VI would die without an heir, Thomas Cranmer and Mary Tudor literally fought one another for survival — and through extension, the survival of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in England. In a valiant struggle of one against the other, Mary Tudor knowingly won the battle. Thomas Cranmer unknowingly won the war.

As all Tudor History enthusiasts know, when it became clear that King Edward VI would not survive to adulthood, the realm faced a huge succession crisis. History teaches us that the young king’s solution from that established by his father King Henry VIII was to change the succession to one more acceptable to his staunch Protestant beliefs. In his own hand, King Edward VI drafted “My devise of the succession”. In doing so, King Edward VI passed over both of his sisters Mary and Elizabeth Tudor and, like his father, his Scottish relatives, and settled upon the progeny of his paternal aunt, Mary, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk.

King Edward VI

Although Thomas Cranmer testified at his heresy hearing in 1555 that he was allowed no private access to King Edward VI during the final months of his reign to hear first-hand in a confidential forum what the king’s wishes actually were, he accepted them just the same. After all, King Edward VI’s commands were in original form in his own hand and further articulated to Cranmer in a group forum. Thus, steadfastly loyal to the two kings he served, Thomas Cranmer not only signed the bond of allegiance supporting the devise, he signed it FIRST — “unfeignedly and without dissimulation” — in an oversized signature, “T. CANT.”

King Edward VI’s death on 6 July 1553 came more swiftly than most anticipated. This created two major complications that would come back to haunt Thomas Cranmer. First, King Edward VI’s “My devise of the succession” had not yet passed through Parliament. Far more ominous, Mary Tudor, with advance warning of her brother’s impending doom, was able to flee. Without securing the person of the Lady Mary, Cranmer and John Dudley — who for the previous two years were at odds with one another — needed to immediately ally and work together. They did just that.

The first order of business was to crown a queen. The original heir to the throne Lady Frances Grey by prearrangement renounced her claim. Thus, the first intended regnant Queen of England would be Lady Jane Dudley (nee: Grey), who had married the Duke of Northumberland’s son Guildford just six weeks previously. The proclamation of Jane Dudley as Queen of England went smoothly, spreading throughout the realm. As was customary, she was initially housed at the Tower of London. Unfortunately for Cranmer, however, within two days of the king’s death, Mary Tudor was safe in East Anglia.

A wave of popular support for the Mary Tudor enabled her to safely venture on to Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. Wisely avoiding any debate of the religion question, Mary Tudor pressed her claim to the throne as the rightful heir as King Henry VIII’s eldest daughter. The strategy worked, and support for her ground-swelled. John Dudley’s hastily formed London forces, partially armed with men, armour, weapons and horses provided by Thomas Cranmer, intended to cut the Mary off from the Midlands. Unnerved by the resistance he was encountering, Dudley retreated to Cambridge, proclaiming for Mary Tudor as Queen of England himself. Cranmer stood alone.

John Dudley

While Dudley led his expeditionary forces, Thomas Cranmer composed a letter on 11 July in which he formally rejected Mary Tudor’s claim to the throne. Cranmer wrote that the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon “was necessary to be had both by the everlasting laws of God, and also by the ecclesiastical laws, and by the most part of the noble and learned universities of Christendom…”  Then, Cranmer’s name again led a list of Privy Councillors ordering sheriffs throughout the kingdom to pull together forces to retrieve the “bastard Mary”, because she was “plotting to bring papists, Spaniards and other strangers into the realm at the great peril and danger of the utter subversion of God’s holy word.” While Mary Tudor pointedly focused on her succession rights, Cranmer attempted desperately to bring religion back into the discussion.

One week into the reign of Queen Jane, news of revolts throughout the realm reached London, resulting in several Privy Councillors slipping away to join Mary Tudor’s cause. In contrast, Thomas Cranmer dug his heels in, again leading a now shortened list of signatures in a desperate attempt to secure the support of Sir Richard Rich and his influence in Essex on Queen Jane’s behalf. By then the cause was hopeless, his words wasted on Tudor History’s most notorious “flip-flopper”. Most Councillors signing the letter slipped away the same day, proclaiming Mary Tudor Queen of England.

Although resistance to her cause continued through the entire month of July in Cranmer’s home diocese of Cambridgeshire and also the Fens, Mary Tudor, accompanied by her younger sister Elizabeth, rode into London triumphant. The daughter of Queen Catherine of Aragon, granddaughter of Queen Isabella of Castile, was Queen of England. Thomas Cranmer instead was a traitor, the last man left not to proclaim for her.

Treason charges lodged against Thomas Cranmer were inevitable. With thirty suits of Cranmer’s armour found abandoned by the Duke of Northumberland’s troops and his bold signature leading several damning documents, his arrest was a fait-accompli. The Dudleys and Bishop Nicholas Ridley already in the Tower of London by the end of July, Cranmer walked free until mid- September. Evidently, Queen Mary was cautious not to show her religious cards too soon, also treading lightly with evangelical protesters.

Thomas Cranmer

With the luxury of time this afforded, Thomas Cranmer could have easily escaped to Europe as many other Protestants had, such as Peter Martyr, Francis Walsingham and Katherine Willoughby. Instead, Cranmer stayed in England, residing in plain sight in his private estates, carrying out his typical duties. Was Cranmer making arrangements to protect his wife and two children? Was he intent through duty and loyalty to preside over the funeral of his godson King Edward VI? Historians have yet to solve the mystery, but his decision to remain in England certainly had tragic consequences.

Commanded by Queen Mary Tudor to call together Convocation and appear at the Court of Richmond, Thomas Cranmer complied. Fearful of placing his contemporaries and friends in danger, he refused to speak with them publicly, most notably Sir William Cecil. As others around him, such as Secretary Cheke and Lord Russell were questioned and arrested, he refrained from his typical habit of writing letters of support on their behalf. From the point Queen Mary Tudor took power, she refused to see or speak with Cranmer, this quite obvious at functions where both were in attendance. In short, knowing his arrest and condemnation were forthcoming, Cranmer went about the business of preparing himself for the inevitable, careful to do so in a way that no one else was dragged alongside.

By August, Queen Mary Tudor no longer showed tolerance for open evangelical services. Rather than banning them altogether, she cleverly opened the possibility of the Eucharist mass being worshiped in all parishes instead. The tide swiftly turned, Eucharist masses swiftly overwhelming those clergies still willing to preach evangelical services. Cranmer was shocked by the Roman Catholic conversions of the imprisoned John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and Sir John Gates, Marquess of Northampton. A wonderful turnabout in Queen Mary’s favour, the lay leadership neutralized and religious tides turning her way, she took the opportunity to purge the Protestant clergy. Though careful not to involve others, Thomas Cranmer was still not of a mind to capitulate. Civil disobedience for him still reigned.

His arrest imminent, commissioners working on behalf of Queen Mary delivered to the archbishop a list of questions he was compelled to answer, along with a command to prepare a complete listing of his possessions. While Thomas Cranmer went along with the commissioners’ directives, he concurrently refused to bend to the Marian regime’s religious policies. Cranmer sent a letter to a friend condemning a Eucharist mass celebrated at his own Canterbury Cathedral, along with a draft of a proclamation condemning the celebration of mass as “devil devising”, further denying all rumours that he would ever celebrate any Eucharist mass before the Queen of England. Somehow this draft proclamation was promulgated. Thomas Cranmer was frustrated, to say the least. His intention was to edit the draft into a public manifesto that “a la Martin Luther” would be affixed to every church door in London with his official seal. Obviously, the ruling regime considered his action sedation, Cranmer proudly admitting to it himself when finally questioned and subsequently arrested after an appearance at Star Chamber.

Thomas Cranmer

In spite of Thomas Cranmer’s steadfast support of and scriptural belief in the royal supremacy, he engaged in active high treason. Although his signature on King Edward VI’s “Devise of the succession” was boldly signed while Edward was still king, it was never approved by Parliamentary decree. Once the king died, Cranmer engaged in overt activities to prevent Queen Mary’s succession, thirty suits of armour at the very least provided to John Dudley’s troops, documents written and signed ordering additional troops from all local sheriffs, and composition of written declarations of her illegitimacy and of heresy. Once Queen Mary Tudor ascended to the throne, Thomas Cranmer failed to proclaim her, engaged in activities in opposition to her religious agenda, and publicly shamed her belief in Roman Catholicism. Thus, after being paraded through the city of London in disgrace, Thomas Cranmer was found guilty of high treason on 13 November 1553 at the same trial that also condemned England’s shortest-reigning monarch Jane (Grey) Dudley, her husband Guildford and others.

Though Lady Jane Dudley and Guildford Dudley bravely faced inevitable beheadings, Queen Mary Tudor’s plans for Thomas Cranmer took a far different path. The first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury would be charged and convicted of heresy, like many “heretics” before him — some condemned by him — burned at the stake. From Queen Mary Tudor’s 16th-century mindset, heresy was the greater crime, Cranmer’s burning death a needed step towards England’s return to Roman Catholicism, and with it, the ultimate salvation of her subjects.

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A Video Tribute to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer by Mercy Rivera

Mercy owns none of the contents.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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"Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell" Final Blog Stop

Thomas Cranmer -mini-bio

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“The Virgin Queen”, by Leanda de Lisle

March 10, 2017 in Guest Writers, QAB Author Highlight, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

Editor’s Note: Queenanneboleyn.com is very excited to learn that Leanda de Lisle is completing the “finishing touches” on her new biography White King, The Untold Story of Charles I. This highly anticipated and comprehensive look at England’s tragic Stuart King and his family will release in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2017, by Random House. An American release by Penguin Books is anticipated in January 2018.

If you are seeking an outstanding introduction to the Tudor Dynasty of English History, look no further than Tudor: The Family Story. Do enjoy a short excerpt from Leanda highlighting the origin of Queen Elizabeth Tudor’s sobriquet as “The Virgin Queen”.

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The Phoenix Portrait, Nicholas Hilliard

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The Virgin Queen

by Leanda de Lisle

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Was it better for a Queen who could not marry never to have felt love? In verse Elizabeth begged, ‘let me live with some more sweet content/Or die and so forget what love e’er meant’. Her father, Henry VIII, had feared it would be hard to find a King consort for a Tudor Queen, ‘with whom the whole realm could and would be contented’ as’, and so it had proved. The anxieties she had expressed to the emissary of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1561, that she could not marry without triggering unrest, had deepened following Mary’s disastrous marriages. Elizabeth continued to look publicly for a husband to fulfill national expectations and surely hoped it was not impossible that she might find someone suitable, but in their absence, she had settled for a kind of celibate marriage with Robert Dudley. It was a kind of ‘sweet content’.

People always rushed to see Elizabeth and Dudley together. The antiquarian John Stowe recalled witnessing them meeting once in 1566. Dudley had entered London with a train of seven hundred lords, knights, and gentlemen accompanied by the Queen’s footmen, as well as his own. They had marched from Temple Bar, through the City, across London Bridge into Southwark while the Queen came, ‘secretly.. [across the water] taking a wherry with one pair of oars for her and two other ladies’. When she had landed Elizabeth got into a blue coach and as Dudley and his army reached her on the highway, she came out and greeted him with kisses, before she mounted a horse and they rode on together to Greenwich palace. Later Stowe had watched Dudley return to London in advance of the Queen, the night sky lighting his way with the strange glow of the northern lights.

Nine years later, in 1575, Robert Dudley had prepared a magnificent eighteen days of entertainment for Elizabeth’s visit at his seat at Kenilworth castle in Warwickshire. When the great day came Elizabeth had enjoyed a feast in a specially built pavilion before Dudley rode with her to his castle, the flickering flames of the candles from the windows reflected in the lake and glittering like a vision from a fairy tale. Over the following two and half weeks there had been masques, pageants, and dramas, with the subject of marriage a constant theme. But Elizabeth would turn forty-five in 1578, suitors had come and gone for two decades, and the pretence that she would ever marry was coming to an end.

One last serious discussion of a match was underway with Elizabeth courted by the twenty-four-year old brother of the French King Henri III, the Duke of Anjou. The old friendship with Spain had soured over their religious differences and the piracy of Spanish gold. Elizabeth needed France as a friend, but to England’s beleaguered Catholics the marriage proposal also represented the desperate hope of an end to the increasingly vicious persecution to which they were being subjected. English Catholics reasoned that Elizabeth’s fears about their loyalty would be greatly reduced if she were married to a Catholic, but their hopes for the Anjou marriage were matched by Protestant opposition. These divisions over the Anjou match were to be played out during the royal progress into East Anglia that summer.

As usual a book was drawn up of the proposed route of the progress, which the Queen would then agree, and she picked the clothes she was to wear. Elizabeth’s face now had the square jawline of middle age and her aquiline nose dropped a little at the tip, giving it a hooked appearance. But what she had lost in youth she made up for in the increasing magnificence of her dress. The Spanish style cone shaped skirts of the 1560s had given way in the 1570s to much fuller skirts, thickly embroidered fabrics, and still more elaborate ruffs. Elizabeth did not always remember all the clothes, ruffs and jewels, she needed for each stop of her progress. She once overheard a carter, who was being sent back on a third trip to the Royal Warbrobe, slap his thigh, complaining, ‘Now I see that the Queen is a woman..as well as my wife’. More her Tudors predecessor Elizabeth had a sense of humour, and asking loudly from her window, “What a villain is this?’, she then sent him three coins ‘to stop his mouth’.

The progress of that summer arrived in Norwich on Saturday 16 August 1578 where, amongst the composers of the coming entertainments was a poet called Thomas Churchyard. A principle theme of his shows was to be the virtues of chastity – his patrons were against the Anjou match. He had been rehearsing his shows in Norwich for weeks but he was uncertain when and where his performances could go ahead and the weather was unsettled. When that Monday proved dry Churchyard was determined to seize any opportunity that might arise to put on his opening pageant.

Sometime before supper the Queen was spotted standing at a window with her ladies. As Churchyard’s players swung into action Elizabeth saw an extraordinary coach appear in the gardens beneath her. It was covered with painted birds, naked sprites and had a tower decked with glass jewels and topped with a plume of white feathers. As the coach rattled by a boy dressed as Mercury jumped off, made a leap or two and delivered a speech. The subject was God’s desire to, ‘Find out false hearts, and make of subjects true/ Plant perfect peace, and root up all debate.’ Elizabeth looked pleased (as well she might, tired as she was of debate about who she should marry) – but his show was not over yet.

The next day a friend gave Churchyard advance notice of the path the Queen was taking to dinner. They set up quickly in a field where a crowd was gathering. Churchyard had a whole morality play organised, in which the forces of Cupid, Wantoness and Riot were ranged up against Chastity and her lieutenants, Modesty, Temperance and Shamefastness. When Elizabeth arrived it unfolded before her, in praise of the celibate life. She acknowledged Churchyard’s efforts politely with ‘gracious words’, unaware as yet of the true significance of what she had just witnessed.

The famous phrase, the ‘Virgin Queen’ was coined in the parting pageant on Saturday, but Churchyard’s show in the open field was the first to celebrate Elizabeth as such. The sobriquet associated Elizabeth with the cult of the Virgin Mary and when the Anjou match eventually came to nothing like the others before it, a new iconography was born, with classical as well as Christian associations. A favourite theme in the pictures of Elizabeth that Courtiers commissioned was the classical story of the Vestal Virgin who proved her chastity by carrying water in a sieve from the river Tiber to the temple of Vesta. At least eight pictures survive depicting Elizabeth holding a sieve from the period 1579-83. In several of her portraits icons of empire were included, with the abandonment of the Anjou marriage linked to an aggressive foreign policy in which England would found a Protestant empire. But although these are the images of the great Queen we still remember, behind the icon stood an isolated figure.

Elizabeth is supposed to have written the verses of yearning ‘to live in some more sweet content’ when Anjou left England. But the pain and passion it describes surely found their true inspiration in the man she had truly loved: Robert Dudley.

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.1

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Queen Elizabeth I; Selected Works (2004) edited Steven W May p 12

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Leanda de Lisle

Leanda de Lisle is a renowned journalist and historian who writes articles and book reviews for BBC History Magazine, History Today, the Literary Review, the New Criterion and the Spectator, as well as several national newspapers in the United Kingdom.  Leanda’s first non-fiction book, After Elizabeth: The Death of Elizabeth & the Coming of King James, made a huge impression, a runner-up for the Saltire Society’s First Book of the Year award. Leanda’s book, Tudor; The Family Story (1437-1603), was a top ten bestseller in the United Kingdom and released in the United States, re-titled Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder – The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family for an America audiences. Leanda’s newest highly anticipated biography, White King, The Untold Story of Charles I, will release August 31, 2017.

Fittingly, Leanda lives near Bosworth Battlefield, Bosworth, England. For more information, visit Leanda’s website at LEANDA DE LISLE.

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“Anne of Cleves — Henry VIII’s Luckiest Wife?”, by Roland Hui

March 5, 2017 in Guest Writers, News, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

By Roland Hui

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Anne of Cleves – Henry VIII’s Luckiest Wife?

By Roland Hui

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Of Henry VIII’s six wives, Anne of Cleves has the distinction of not only outliving him, but also his other Queens. That she also emerged unscathed from her marriage (unlike the unfortunate Anne Boleyn and Katheryn Howard) and ended up a wealthy divorcee, has many describe her as Henry’s luckiest wife.

But did Anne of Cleves see herself that way? Although there were reports of her being joyous and spending her time as a free woman in endless rounds of recreations and shopping sprees for new clothes, there were indications that her behaviour was a façade. In truth, Anne’s divorce from the King was crushing to her. So much so that, when the opportunity arose, she even wanted him to take her back.

Misconceptions about Anne begin with her early life in Germany. The daughter of Duke John III of Cleves, she was brought up by her mother the formidable Mary of Julich-Berg-Ravensberg, a lady who ‘very straightly looketh to her children’. Of her siblings, Anne – a girl of ‘very lowly and gentle conditions’ – was particularly close to her mother. The Duchess, it was said, was ‘very loath to suffer her to depart from her.’ This implied a meekness in Anne, perhaps even a reluctance to ever leave the comfort of home and family to marry.

However, when the King of England sought her hand as his fourth wife in 1539, Anne appeared to have regarded the marriage with eager anticipation. Unlike the lovely Christina of Denmark, whom Henry VIII’s fancy had alighted upon previously, Anne had apparently no fear of marrying a man whom Christina thought was another Bluebeard. From what she had heard of Henry’s three late Queens, the first ‘was poisoned, the second was innocently put to death, and the third lost through lack of keeping in her childbed’. There were no reports that Anne shared such worries. On her journey to England to be made a married woman, her only concern was to make herself an agreeable companion to her future husband.

At a stopover at Calais, Anne was made aware that her fiancé was especially fond of gambling. Seeking out one of the King’s officials, the Admiral William Fitzwilliam, she had him teach her one of Henry’s favourite card games. Later, she even invited Fitzwilliam and his fellow Englishmen to her table to sup in order to learn more about her new country and its people. When Fitzwilliam declined out of modesty, she insisted he sit with her.

Anne’s enthusiasm was even more evident when she would not even let foul weather hinder her way to the King. When a snowstorm threatened to delay her at Canterbury, it was Anne who insisted that she and all her party set out for Rochester nonetheless. She was ‘so desirous to make haste to the King’s Grace’, the Duke of Suffolk remarked, ‘that Her Grace forced for no other.’ So much for the shy and withdrawn young woman many historians have made Anne out to be.

Despite Anne’s zeal, the meeting with Henry VIII at Rochester was a disaster. For reasons that remain mysterious to us, he took an instant dislike to her. However, the papers were signed, and the couple were duly wed on January 6, 1540. Although Henry was unfailingly polite to Anne, he shunned her bed, claiming impotence (he was still a most virile man, Henry insisted, but just not with his wife). Not only that, in private he complained about her supposed ugliness, and he even grumbled that she was probably not the virgin she claimed to be owing to her unattractive figure.

On the other hand, as her ladies would later claim, Anne was definitely still ‘a maid’; she was clueless as to what sex really was. According to them, the Queen stated that by just lying next to the King, she could become pregnant without intercourse! As this story only later came about during Henry VIII’s efforts to annul his union with Anne, it can be dismissed as an outright fabrication. A lie to confirm that the royal marriage was never consummated, making it easier for the King to get rid of her. Such a tall tale made Anne look pathetically naive and, even today, some historians give it credit. But we need not believe it. It is inconceivable that Anne, a woman who was determined to be a success as Queen of England, would have been so dense as to what was expected of her in the royal bedchamber. Also, Anne’s English was still too limited to allow her to converse with ease with her English ladies, much less on a subject so intimate.

Anne’s disappointment with her marriage (the King rarely, if ever, slept with her), led her to seek out Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister, who had arranged their match. However, Cromwell put her off repeatedly as he thought himself incapable of dealing with such private matters. Frustrated, she began to wax ‘stubborn and wilful’ with her husband, as the King himself would complain. This was a woman who would not sit still and be silent when her happiness was at stake.

‘The pretended marriage’ as even Anne herself would later call it, came to an end in July when it was told to her that the King had doubts about its validity (Anne was formerly betrothed – and actually still was – to another man Francis of Lorrain, according to English lawyers). As many historians would tell it, as well as Hollywood with ‘The Private Life of Henry VIII’ (1933) and television with’ The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ (1970), Anne was very eager and willing to be free of the notorious Henry. But nothing was farther from the truth. According to Karl Harst, the German envoy, his mistress was devastated. ‘She does weep and bitterly cry,’ he wrote her family, ‘in such a manner as would move a stone heart to pity.’

Ultimately, Anne had no choice but to give in.  In return, she accepted a handsome settlement and was even adopted as the King’s ‘sister.’ Anne was reported to be most content, and when the King married his fifth wife Katheryn Howard, Anne bore her no grudge. However, when Katheryn fell, Anne saw it not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity – a second chance for herself. Would the King take her back? But when her German representatives put out feelers at the English Court, they received an unequivocal ‘no’. Anne was further embittered when her ex-husband took a new wife, Katharine Parr. Although she was never heard to say an unkind word about anyone, Anne was heard to complain how the new Queen was less beautiful than herself.

Far from being the ugly and dim lady many historians and popular culture have made her out to be, Anne of Cleves was far from that. She was reasonably attractive (just take a look at Hans Holbein’s portraits of her) and her efforts to be a success in England show Anne to be a woman of courage, determination, and initiative. By no fault of hers, her husband was entirely unattracted to her and, being King, he was allowed to have his way in the end. Perhaps it was in death that Anne of Cleves was vindicated. Of all of Henry VIII’s wives, she alone was laid to rest in the grandeur of Westminster Abbey, the great burial place of the Kings and Queens of England.

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Roland Hui

 

Roland Hui received his degree in Art History from Concordia University in Canada. After completing his studies, he went on to work in Interpretive Media for California State Parks, The U.S. Forest Service, and The National Park Service.

Roland has written for Renaissance Magazine and for Tudor Life Magazine. He blogs about 16th-century English art and personalities at Tudor Faces at: tudorfaces.blogspot.com.

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New Release!

 

Ten remarkable women!
One remarkable era!

In the Tudor period, 1485–1603, a host of fascinating women sat on the English throne. The dramatic events of their lives are told in The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens of England.

The Turbulent Crown begins with the story of Elizabeth of York, who survived conspiracy, and dishonour to become the first Tudor Queen, bringing peace and order to England after years of civil war. From there, the reader is taken through the parade of Henry VIII’s six wives – two of whom, Anne Boleyn and Katheryn Howard, would lose their heads against a backdrop of intrigue and scandal.

The Turbulent Crown continues with the tragedy of Lady Jane Grey, the teenager who ruled for nine days until overthrown by her cousin Mary Tudor. But Mary’s reign, which began in triumph, ended in disaster, leading to the emergence of her sister, Elizabeth I, as the greatest of her family and of England’s monarchs.

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

Roland Hue and MadeGlobal Publishing are graciously offering a complimentary copy of The Turbulent Crown: The Story of the Tudor Queens of England to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on March 11, 2017. Good Luck!!!

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“Lágrimas Negras: La Plegaria de Mary Tudor, Reina de Inglaterra”, por Mercy Rivera

February 18, 2017 in Hall of Crowns (Mercy Rivera), Historical Fiction, Queens of World History, Spanish Language Diary Entries by Mercy Rivera

por Mercy Rivera

Maria_Tudor1

Reina Maria Tudor

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Video producido por Mercy Rivera (piratesse4)

 Mercy no posee nada del contenido.

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LágrimasNegras

Fui una vez la perla de este reino, la luz de los ojos del Rey mi padre, y la vida entera de la reina, mi madre. Heredera de sangre noble, de casta fuerte, con ancestros de linaje impecable, y legado precioso, mas aún, a pesar de todo eso, no soy amada por mi reino, ni por mi marido ni por los que me rodean. Yo, la nieta de Isabel y Fernando de Castilla, hija de la noble Catalina de Aragón, hija del león, Enrique VIII, estoy reducida a menos que nada, con una corona que me pesa, que me duele, que me da un inmenso poder pero al mismo tiempo me condena a una soledad extrema. ¿De que me sirve cargarla en mi cabeza si no me puede dar el amor de mi súbditos y de mi rey, de que me sirve si no me puede dar herederos, de que me sirve si solo inspira el miedo de los que pasan por delante de mi? ¿Para esto me esforcé tanto durante mi niñez, para esto es que me mantuve en pie ante todas las amarguras que viví?

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Me miro en el espejo, y no me reconozco. He perdido la lozanía de la juventud, más por causa de las penas que por el paso de los años, me he convertido en una mujer de piedra, fría e indomable. Le he dado mi alma, mi corazón y todo mi ser a Inglaterra como siempre fue mi deber, no me arrepiento, porque he vengado a mi madre, y a mí misma por las injurias del pasado. Desde el momento en que fui unjida y coronada, le devolví el honor a mi casta, recuperé lo que siempre fue mío por derecho, eliminé a mis enemigos y a los enemigos de la Santa Fe Católica, uno por uno cayeron ante las llamas del fuego puro de la justicia de Dios, misma que por mi mano recibieron, poco a poco he destruído la herejía que vino con La Bolena y su estirpe, Inglaterra es una vez más una con Dios y el Santo Padre. He cumplido con un deber sagrado, y aún así, no soy amada. El reino entero murmura, la gente me llama “Maria Sangrienta”, me temen y me odian, no se atreven a decirme de frente lo que gritan a mis espaldas. Soy la Reina, María Primera de Inglaterra, regente sin duda alguna, y no soy amada. Hablan de mi a escondidas. Susurran sobre como la reina envejece y aún no se escucha el llanto del heredero al trono de Inglaterra. ¡Dios, como me torturan, lo peor es que son palabras ciertas, es una verdad que me hiere profundamente! ¿Acaso estoy maldita, acaso Dios me castiga negándome lo que más he querido tener en el mundo? Un hijo, un hijo al cual amar, un hijo que limpie mi alma de tantas amarguras, de tantos pesares y que borre para siempre de mí, ese pasado que tanto me envenena. Un hijo me daría la paz que perdí hace muchos años, me devolvería la alegría de vivir, hasta la misma juventud perdida. Un hijo que sería mi legado más grande, un hijo que continuaría con lo que ya he iniciado. Un hijo, una bendición, una criatura a la que amaría y entregaría todo, sin importar su género, pues jamás cometería el cruel error de mi padre, de rechazar a una hija por el deseo de un heredero varón, yo no cometería nunca esa crueldad con quien sería sangre de mi sangre, carne de mi carne.

Pero estoy vacía, y me niego a creer que no hay oportunidad, ya tuve esa dulce sensación dentro de mí una vez, y fue como si algún maleficio le hubiera hecho desaparecer. Dios sabe cuanto le anhelaba, como pude sentir que florecía la vida misma en mi vientre, no fue engaño, yo se que estaba dentro de mí. Pero por voluntad divina o maligna, no pudo ser, perdí a ese pequeño ser que el amor creó dentro de mis entrañas y mi corazón, sin dolor físico, pero si en mi alma, que nunca pudo entender el por qué de tan cruel burla de este destino mío que se empeña en condenarme a la soledad.

Destino maldito! Destino que cambió mi vida en mis años de niña cuando permitió que Ana Bolena descargara su veneno en mi vida, arrebatándome todo, a mi padre, a mi madre, mi rango y todo lo que yo amaba. Cruel destino que me puso por delante madrastras que poco hicieron por mí, por miedo a enfurecer al tirano de mi padre, al que aveces perdono, y al que aveces odio con todo el corazón, cada vez que pienso en las lágrimas de mi amada madre, y en las mías, Como sufrí en aquellos días, lejos de quien me dio el ser y de todo lo que dulcemente me rodeaba, de la protección que el rango de princesa me otorgaba, como recuerdo el terror de pensar que al día siguiente vería ante mí la sentencia de mi muerte, por la mano de esa perra de Bolena, que me convirtió en bastarda bajo el embrujo que la hizo reina sobre la desgracia de mi madre. Y es por eso que no puedo amar sin dudas a mi hermana como lo manda la ley de Dios, no solo por ser el fruto de la unión que me separó de todo lo que una vez fue enteramente mío, también, porque siempre me sentí menos que ella, si esa es la verdad aunque me pese. Posee una belleza que opaca a la que yo una vez tuve, heredó lo mejor de su madre, tiene ese encanto hechizante que atrae a las masas, los embruja con solo una sonrisa, ¡es por eso que ella no debe ser mi sucesora, no lo puedo permitir! Isabel será lo que una vez fue su madre, una reina hereje, apartará al reino de la obediencia al Santo Padre, de el dulce consuelo de la Madre de Cristo, reinstalará el mal que yo ya he erradicado y no lo puedo permitir! Y aún con todo lo que ya se, no la puedo odiar, no la puedo matar, por sus venas corre la misma sangre que por las mías, admito que recuerdo con cariño los momentos que pasamos juntas cuando la soledad y el desprecio eran nuestra única compañía. Mas como creer ahora en sus palabras de afecto, si estoy segura que su corazón anhela tener sobre su cabeza la corona que yo poseo, estoy segura que su alma es tan ambiciosa como la de su estirpe materna, ella en los huesos también es una Bolena. Isabel, mi hermana y mi rival, mi ruina, y al mismo tiempo la salvación de este reino.

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Isabel, tan joven aún, en cambio yo, a mi me han consumido las penas de tal manera, que los años se pueden considerar inocentes, ante el deterioro tan evidente en mi apariencia. Isabel, la envidio y le temo, la quiero y la desprecio, nos unen y nos separan tantas cosas. Me pregunto, ¿ como ha podido superar los martirios de su soledad, como ha logrado mantenerse fresca y bella a pesar de los miedos que la torturan, por qué a ella le ha bendecido la vida con belleza espléndida a pesar de sus penas, mientras que a mí me ha emparejado con la misma decadencia? No tengo respuestas que me conforten, que me hagan comprender y conformarme, y es por eso que ese amor que le tuve cuando era una niña, denigrada a bastarda como yo, sin madre y sin rango, se ha desvanecido, la rivalidad ha tomado el lugar de ese sentimiento que una vez fue dulce, pero que ya no es más que solo amargura.

Lejos están de mi aquellos recuerdos que dulcemente me consolaban, todo cambió desde los días en que mis padres se mostraban amor a puertas abiertas, tanto que les vi besarse, romper protocolos para brindarse sonrisas, mi padre el Rey, que corría a recibirme en sus brazos y me llamaba “La Perla de su Mundo”. Y mi madre, la hermosa Reina Catalina de Aragón, que guiaba con ternura mis pasos, la que con fervor curaba mis fiebres y me cantaba nanas en la madrugada cuando las pesadillas me aterraban. Dios sabe cuanto extraño su dulce voz, sus consejos, y aquellos regaños, que inspiraban admiración y respeto, pero miedo, eso jamás. Mis padres fueron Reyes, mas yo nunca los vi de esa manera, fueron mis padres, y con ellos fui feliz. Por eso siempre prometía a mi madre que el día que fuera Reina de Inglaterra, haría honores a mi Casta de Castilla y Aragón, haría que la Rosa Tudor marcara por siempre la Corona. Pero Ana Bolena me arrebató todo, y no importa si dicen que mi padre tuvo mil amantes, y un bastardo al que puso por encima de mí, aún con todo aquello yo era la luz de sus ojos, yo lo se. Fue ella y la llegada de Isabel, quienes sellaron mi destino para mal, y todo lo que fui, todo lo que amé, ya nunca más fue mío, y aquella promesa que mil veces le hice a mi madre, ahora mismo se tambalea, se encuentra en peligro de perecer sin ser realmente cumplida.

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Isabel, siento que tristememente en un tiempo no tendré muchas fuerzas para enfrentarte, a veces quisiera olvidar todo, y tenerte conmigo, verte como la hermana que siempre quise a mi lado, más no puedo, ya sea por envidia, por miedo, por desprecio u orgullo, debo mantenerte lejos. Yo se, que los ojos de mi esposo el Rey se han deleitado con tus encantos, los mismos que heredaste de tu madre, bien que eres cuña de su mismo árbol. ¡Me duele y me indigna! Pero en el fondo quisiera ser como tú. Te veo tan llena de vida, mientras que yo me consumo como una llama en medio de la tormenta, sonríes con dulzura, y yo ya no puedo, eres delicada, como lo fui yo en mis años felices, eres ciertamente hija de nuestro padre, hija del león, igual que yo, pero más fuerte, has sobrevivido tus penas sin marchitarte, y es por eso que, aunque me cueste admitirlo, siento que en este reino no habrá reina más amada y recordada que tú. Pues ya no puedo seguir posponiendo lo inevitable, mis fuerzas no son las mismas, y siento que lo que llevo en mi vientre, no es el dulce latir de un hijo, aunque lo deseo con todas mis fuerzas, cada día que pasa me doy cuenta que lo que crece dentro de mi me absorbe la vida, se alimenta de mi de manera ponzoñosa, más no con la dulzura con la que un a criatura de Dios lo hace dentro del vientre materno. Permita Dios y me equivoque, pero si estas dudas se tornan ciertas, tendré que heredarte todo Isabel, pasar mi corona sobre tu cabeza, y al irme de este mundo ver una vez más la perversa sonrisa de tu madre, regocijada en tu triunfo sobre mí.

Lágrimas negras he llorado, lágrimas que encierran rabia, rencor, soledad, amargura y miedo. Lágrimas negras que comencé a derramar desde el día en que me separaron de mi madre, desde el momento en el que el Rey mi padre me lanzó a la sombras para llevar a la luz a su amante en todo su esplendor, mientras que su verdadera reina, se consumía en le verguenza y en la pena de su abandono. Lágrimas negras derramé cuando me degradaron a sirvienta, siguiendo los pasos de mi hermana recién nacida y bajando la cabeza ante aquellos que siempre debieron inclinarse ante mí. Lágrimas negras he llorado sin consuelo, a solas, con el único apoyo de mis recuerdos felices, de aquella niñez que fue cortada tan temprano. Siempre escuché de mis damas decir: que las lágrimas de una princesa, siempre deben ser de alegría, pues el alma de una princesa, siempre debe brillar de felicidad, como el oro con el que fue labrada su corona al nacer. Fácil forjar palabras bellas para alagar a una princesa cuando la gloria le favorece, más cuando ésta cae en desgracia, nadie forja palabras de igual belleza para consolar, y hacer que esas lágrimas negras, tan llenas de agonía, dejen de brotar.

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Lágrimas negras han secado mi alma, se han llevado la juventud de mi rostro, lavaron con su frialdad mi alegría de vivir, ya nunca pude ser de nuevo aquella joven de gran altivez, de presencia cálida que a todos agradaba. Lágrimas negras, lloré cuando al ver mi reflejo en los ojos de mi padre el rey, ya no veía el amor de un padre, si no la rigidez del tirano que solo buscaba mi obediencia y complacencia absoluta, en su mirada fría pude ver mi propio temor, pues me di cuenta que si me mantenía firme en mis convicciones, era claro que no se tocaría el corazón para ordenar mi muerte. A partir de ese momento mi alma se fue marchitando, y así mis sueños e ilusiones igual fueron pereciendo. Pasaba el tiempo y para mí no habia esperanzas, solo la muerte de mi hermano me devolvió lo que siempre debió ser mío en primer lugar, El Trono de Inglaterra.

La dulce victoria de mi llegada al trono fue cálida, yo tenía tanto por hacer, por primera vez me sentí segura, recompensada por tantos años de rechazo y amargura. Pero de nada sirvió, porque la soledad no me abandona, y tampoco la mala fortuna. En las noches siguen brotando lágrimas negras, caen por mi rostro tan frías como el invierno mas duro, porque no hay alegría a pesar de mis logros, no hay amor a pesar de mi deseo, no, no hay amor, pues no lo veo en los ojos de el hombre al que amo, en el que había puesto todas mis esperanzas de felicidad. Me mira con desprecio, y aveces creo que hasta con asco, y no le culpo, ya no soy hermosa, al menos no como una vez lo fuí, pero le amo, ¿acaso no es eso suficiente? No, creo que no lo es, tanto que mi madre amó a mi padre, y aún así fue abandonada. ¿Por qué, Por qué para una reina es tan dificil ser amada por lo que es, por quien es, es que acaso las reinas de Inglaterra tienen prohibido el placer de amar y ser correspondidas, con la misma libertad y pureza que ese sentimiento divino profesa.

Cruel destino el mío que solo ha hecho brotar de mis ojos lágrimas negras. Tan corta fue la dicha en mi vida, y tan larga mi pena. ¿Será que mi estirpe está maldita, a causa de pecados pasados, será este el precio a pagar? Dios sabe que mis actos fueron hechos con el fin de traer a Inglaterra de vuelta a la luz, a la Fe única y verdadera. No me arrepiento de nada, pues lo hice actuando con mi consciencia, hice lo que juré en silencio mi madre y a mí misma. Pero quizás sea mi negativa a perdonar, lo que realmente me esté envenenando por dentro. Puede que esa sea la raíz de todos mis males, pues Dios mismo ha ordenado en Su palabra perdonar, aún a nuestros más fuertes enemigos. Bien pues, tomando en cuenta que dentro de mí, siento un nuevo ardor de vida, elevo al cielo una plegaria, abro mi corazón al perdón, pues si es el precio a pagar por una esperanza de felicidad, de ser amada por mi pueblo como su reina, estoy dispuesta a tragame mi orgullo, y dar el perdón a quienes más daño me hicieron en esta vida.

De rodillas, suplico a Dios y a la dulce Virgen María que escuchen mi clamor, es mi deseo, dejar mi odio atrás, que me den la fuerza que necesito para tragarme mi orgullo, y perdonar a mi padre, a esa mujer, Ana Bolena, que con su lujuria y ambición destruyó mi vida, pido por el alma de ambos, para que reciban el perdón.Te perdono, padre mío, por darme el cruel látigo de tu desprecio después de tantos años de veneración y amor, jamás podrás imaginar el dolor tan inmenso que me hiciste padecer, y si está tu alma finalmente en el cielo, no lo se, aún me siento muy herida como para anhelar que así sea, aunque mi corazón te perdone en mi memoria están ardiendo aún los recuerdos de esos días negros, que tanto marcaron mi existencia. Y ella, Ana Bolena, espero que Dios le haya perdonado todo el mal que causó, tanto a mí como a tantos hombres buenos que sirvieron al Rey con fervor y lealtad. Mi confesor una vez me dijo que ella con la pérdida de su cabeza ya había pagado todas sus maldades, tal vez sea la verdad, y sea hora de olvidarla y dejar de pensar en ella con tanto odio. Pido también por el alma de mi madre, a la que nunca olvido, la que vive en mi corazón y en mis recuerdos, que esté en paz y me ayude desde el cielo a hallar la mía propia. Y más que todo, pido que esto que siento latiendo dentro de mí, sea la esperanza de este reino, y mi redención, mi recompensa a tantos años de miedo y sufrimientos. Que me equivoque en mis malos pensamientos, que sea vida y no desventura o enfermedad lo que dentro de mi viente siento crecer, que sea un heredero, creo merecer esa bendición, ¿verdad?

Deus, animam meam: dimittite me ut plangeret prohibere nigrum lacrimis. In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.

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English Translation:

Black Tears:  The Prayer of Mary Tudor, Queen of England

I once was the pearl of this kingdom, the light of the eyes of the King my father, and the whole life of the queen, my mother. Heir of noble blood, strong caste, with ancestry of impeccable lineage, and precious legacy, but still, in spite of all that, I am not loved by my kingdom, neither by my husband nor by those around me. I, the granddaughter of Isabel and Ferdinand of Castile, daughter of the noble Catherine of Aragon, daughter of the lion, Henry The VIII, I am reduced to nothing, with a crown that is too heavy for me to carry, it hurts me, a crown that gives me an immense power But at the same time condemns me to extreme solitude. What good is it to have it on my head if it can not give me the love of my subjects and my husband, what good is it to me if it can not give me heirs, what good is it if it inspires only the fear of those who cross my path? It is for this that I worked so hard in my early years, it is for this that I kept myself together during all my years of suffering?

I look in the mirror, and I do not recognize myself. I have lost the freshness of youth, more because of the pain than for nature of years, I have become a woman of stone, cold and indomitable. I have given my soul, my heart and my whole being to England as it was always my duty, I do not regret it, because I have avenged my mother, and myself for the insults of the past. From the moment I was anointed and crowned, I returned the honor to my caste, recovered what was always mine by right, I eliminated my enemies and the enemies of the Holy Catholic Faith, one by one fell before the flames of pure fire Of the justice of God, which by my hand they have received, I have gradually destroyed the heresy that came with The Boleyns, its lineage and all their allies, England is once again one with God and the Holy Father. I have fulfilled a sacred duty, and yet, I am not loved. The whole kingdom murmurs, people call me “Bloody Mary”, they fear me and they hate me, they do not dare to tell me on my face what they shout behind my back. I am the Queen, Mary First of England, regent without doubt, and I am not loved. They talk about me on the sly. They whisper about how the queen grows old and the cry of the heir to the throne of England is not yet heard. They torture me, the worst thing is that their words are true, it is a truth that deeply hurts me! Am I cursed?, perhaps God punishes me by denying me what I have wanted most in the world. A son, a son to love, a son who cleans my soul from so many sorrows, from that past that poisons me so much. A son would give me the peace I lost many years ago, would give me back the joy of living, even the lost youth. A son who would be my greatest legacy, a son who would continue with what I have already begun. A son, a blessing, a creature I will love and give everything, regardless of gender, for I would never commit the cruel error of my father, to reject a daughter for the will of a male heir, I would never commit that cruelty with who would be blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh.

But I am empty, and I refuse to believe that there is no chance, I already had that sweet sensation inside me once, and it was as if some curse had made it disappear. God knows how much I longed for a child, how I felt that life itself flourished in my womb, it was not deception, I knew it was inside me. But by divine will or dark evil, could not be, I lost that little being that love created inside my heart without physical pain, why so cruel mockery of This destiny of mine that insists on condemning me to solitude?

Damn destiny! Destiny that changed my life in my childhood when allowed Anne Boleyn to discharge her poison in my life, snatching everything, my father, my mother, my rank and everything I loved. Cruel destiny that put me before stepmothers who did little for me, for fear of infuriating the tyrant of my father, whom I sometimes forgive, and whom I sometimes hate with all my heart, whenever I think of the tears of my beloved mother , And in mine, As I suffered in those days, far from who gave me life and everything that sweetly surrounded me, the protection that the rank of princess granted me, as I remember the terror of thinking that the next day I would see Before me the sentence of my death, by the hand of that bitch of Boleyn, who made me a bastard under the spell that made her reign over my mother’s misfortune. And that is why I can not love my sister as God’s law commands, not only because she is the fruit of the union that separated me from everything that was once entirely mine. Also because I always felt less Than her, that is a fact I can not deny.

She has a beauty that overshadows the one I once had, she inherited the best of her mother, Elizabeth has that enchanting charm that attracts the masses, she bewitches them with just a smile, that is why she should not be my successor, no I can not allow it! Elizabeth will be what her mother once was, a heretic queen, she will remove this kingdom from obedience to the Holy Father, from the sweet consolation of the Mother of Christ, she will reinstall the evil that I have eradicated and I can not allow it! And even with all that I already know, I can not hate her, I can not kill her, her blood is also my blood, I admit that I remember with affection the moments we spent together when loneliness and contempt were our only company. But as I now believe in her words of affection, I am also sure that her heart yearns to have on her head the crown that I possess, I am certain that her soul is as ambitious as that of her maternal race, she in the bones is also a Boleyn . Elizabeth, my sister and my rival, my ruin, and at the same time the salvation of this kingdom.

Elizabeth, so young, yet I have been so consumed with such pains that the years can be considered innocent, in the face of the deterioration so evident in my appearance. Isabel, I envy her and I fear her, I love her, the sorrows unite us and separate us from so many things. I wonder, how she has overcome the martyrdoms of her solitude, how she has managed to keep herself fresh and beautiful despite the fears that torture her, why she has blessed her life with splendid beauty despite her sorrows, and I am in decay? I have no answers that comfort me, that makes me understand and conform, We both were denigrated, called bastards and we both lost all we loved and cared for, and yet, I was the most devastated by bitterness.

Far away are those memories that sweetly comforted me, everything changed from the days when my parents showed their love openly, many times I saw them kissing, breaking protocols to give themselves smiles, my father the King, who ran to receive me in his Arms and called me “The Pearl of his World”. And my mother, the beautiful Queen Catherine of Aragon, who tenderly guided my steps, who fervently cured my fevers and sang me nanas at dawn when the nightmares terrified me. God knows how much I miss her sweet voice, her advice, and those scoldings, which inspired admiration and respect, never fear. My parents were Kings, but I never saw them that way, they were my parents, and with them I was happy. That is why I always promised my mother that on the day that I was Queen of England, I would honor my Caste of Castile and Aragon, I would lead the Tudor Rose to mark forever the Crown. But Anne Boleyn took everything from me, and it does not matter if they say that my father had a thousand lovers, and a bastard whom he put above me, even with all that I was the light of his eyes, I know. It was her and the arrival of Elizabeth, who sealed my destiny, and everything I was, everything I loved, was never mine anymore, and that promise that I made to my mother a thousand times, is now tottering, Is in danger of perishing without actually being fulfilled.

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Elizabeth, I feel that sadly in a while I will not have much strength to face you, sometimes I want to forget everything, and to have you with me, to see you as the sister I always loved at my side, but I can not, either out of envy, out of fear, out of contempt Or pride, I must keep you away. I know that the eyes of my husband the King have delighted in your charms, the same ones you inherited from your mother, well, you are wedge of her own tree. It hurts and makes me angry! But deep down I would like to be like you. I see you so full of life, while I consume like a flame in the midst of the storm, you smile sweetly, and I can not, you are delicate, as I was in my happy years, you are certainly the daughter of our father, Daughter of the lion, just like me, but stronger, you have survived your sorrows without waning, and that is why, although I admit it, I feel that in this kingdom there will be no queen more loved and remembered than you. For I can no longer postpone the inevitable, my strength is not the same, and I feel that what I carry in my womb, is not the sweet touch of a child, although I want it with all my strength, every day that passes I realize That what grows within me absorbs my life, it feeds on me in a poisonous way, but not with the sweetness with which a creature of God does it within the womb. I pray God that I am wrong, but if these doubts become true, I will have to inherit all to Elizabeth, pass my crown on her head, and when I leave this world I will see once again the wicked smile of her mother, rejoicing in the triumph of her daughter over me .

Black tears I cried, tears that contain anger, rancor, loneliness, bitterness and fear. Black tears that I began to spill from the day they separated me from my mother, from the moment the King my father cast me into the shadows to bring to light his mistress in all her splendor, while his true queen , Was consumed in the shame and the pain of his abandonment. Black tears I shed when I was degraded to a servant, following in the footsteps of my newborn sister and lowering my head to those who always had to bow before me. Black tears I cried without consolation, alone, with the only support of my happy memories, of that childhood that was cut so early. I always heard of my ladies saying that the tears of a princess must always be of joy, for the soul of a princess must always shine with happiness, like the gold with which her crown was wrought at birth. It is easy to forge beautiful words to swell a princess when glory favors her, but when she falls in disgrace, no one forges words of equal beauty to comfort, and make those black tears, so full of agony, cease to spring.

Black tears have dried my soul, they have taken away the youth of my face, washed with coldness my joy of living, and I will never again be that young woman of great pride, with a warm presence that pleased everyone. Black tears, I cried when seeing my reflection in the eyes of my father the king, I no longer saw the love of a father, but the rigidity of the tyrant who only sought my obedience and absolute complacency, in his cold gaze I could see my own Fear, for I realized that if I held firm in my convictions, it was clear that he would not touch his heart to order my death. From that moment my soul wilted, and so my dreams and illusions alike were perishing. Time passed and for me there was no hope, only the death of my brother gave back to me what must have always been mine in the first place, The Throne of England.

The sweet victory of my arrival to the throne was warm, I had so much to do, for the first time I felt safe, rewarded by so many years of rejection and bitterness. But it did no good, because loneliness does not abandon me, nor does bad luck. In the nights, black tears continue to come, they fall on my face as cold as the hardest winter, because there is no joy despite my achievements, there is no love despite my desire, no, there is no love, for I do not see it in the Eyes of the man I love, in whom I had put all my hopes of happiness. He looks at me with contempt, and sometimes I think that even with disgust, and I do not blame him, I’m not beautiful anymore, at least not as I once was, but I love him, is not that enough? No, I do not think so, so much so that my mother loved my father, and yet she was abandoned. Why, why is it that for a queen it is so difficult to be loved for what she is, for who she is, is it that the queens of England are forbidden the pleasure of loving and being reciprocated with the same freedom and purity as that divine feeling Professes.

Cruel destiny of mine that only made black tears come out of my eyes. So brief was happiness in my life, and so long my grief. Shall my race be cursed, because of past sins, is this the price to pay? God knows that my actions were done in order to bring England back to the light, to the only true Faith. I do not regret anything, because I did it by acting with my conscience, I did what I swore in silence, for my mother and myself. But maybe it’s my refusal to forgive, which is really poisoning me inside. That may be the root of all my evils, for God himself has commanded in His word to forgive even our strongest enemies. Well, taking into account that within me, I feel a new ardor of life, I raise a prayer to heaven, I open my heart to forgiveness, for if it is the price to pay for a hope of happiness, to be loved by my people as His queen, I am ready to swallow my pride, and give the forgiveness to those who have done the most harm in my life.

On my knees, I beg God and the sweet Virgin Mary to listen to my prayer, it is my desire, to leave my hatred behind, to develop the strength I need to swallow my pride, and to forgive my father, that woman, Anne Boleyn, Who with her lust and ambition destroyed my life, I ask for the soul of both, so that they may receive forgiveness. I forgive you, my father, for giving me the cruel whip of your rejection after so many years of veneration and love, you can never imagine the Pain that you made me suffer, and if your soul is finally in heaven, I do not know, I still feel very hurt to yearn for it to be so, although my heart forgives you, in my memory are still burning the memories of those dark days, that marked so much my existence. And she, Anne Boleyn, I hope that God has forgiven all the evil she caused, both me and so many good men who served the King with fervor and loyalty. My confessor once told me that with the loss of her head she had already paid for all her evil action, perhaps it is the truth, and it is time to forget and stop thinking about her with so much hatred. I also ask for the soul of my mother, whom I never forget, who lives in my heart and in my memories, who is at peace and help me from heaven to find my own. And above all, I ask that what I feel beating within me, may be the hope of this kingdom, and my redemption, my reward for so many years of fear and suffering. I hope that I am wrong in my bad thoughts, that is life and not misfortune or disease what I feel growing, that he is an heir, I think I deserve that blessing, right?

Deus, animam meam: dimittite me ut plangeret prohibere nigrum lacrimis. In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen

Majesty, Honor, and Tradition: The Monarch’s Royal Christmas Message

December 22, 2016 in Queens of World History, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

Queen Elizabeth II delivering her first Christmas Message Broadcast, 1952

Queen Elizabeth II delivering her first Royal Christmas Message, 1952

“At my Coronation next June, I shall dedicate myself anew to your service…. You will be keeping it as a holiday; but I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me on that day – to pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
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— Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas Day, 1952 —
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Technology is a remarkable thing. Prior to the advent of the wireless radio, the vast majority of the subjects of the kings and queens of first England and Wales, then Great Britain, and ultimately the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth nations never heard directly from their monarchs. Although common people could guess through portraiture and know from photography what their monarchs looked like, unless they had the great fortune to attend an event where the monarch spoke or gained an audience, hearing their king or queen speak directly to them was virtually impossible.

There are few people alive in the United Kingdom today who remember a Christmas Day without hearing their monarch speak directly to them. Now a time-honored tradition, the monarch’s Royal Christmas Message, first delivered by radio, then also television, and now additionally by streaming on the internet, is as ingrained into the British national consciousness as Christmas Eve church services, Father Christmas, choral singing, Ebenezer Scrooge, mistletoe, the Yule log, Christmas crackers, and the delightful, albeit laboriously prepared, flaming Christmas pudding.

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King George V delivering his first Christmas Message Broadcast, 1932

King George V delivering his first Royal Christmas Message, 1932

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In 1932, with the growing popularity of the wireless radio, Sir John Reith, a brilliant founding father of the British Broadcasting Company, pitched a novel idea to the Royal Family. Would King George V be willing to speak directly to his people via the wireless radio on Christmas Day as a prologue to inaugurate the Empire Christmas Service?

Initially, King George was hesitant. Nothing short of His Majesty touring the British Broadcasting Company personally convinced him of the brilliance of the idea. Ultimately, after much deliberation, the king agreed. With this simple leap of faith into the modern era, the vast majority of King George V’s subjects listened to the voice of their monarch for the first time in history, hearing firsthand the king marvel at the technology that brought him to them on Christmas Day. Leaving nothing to chance, the words spoken from the king were not of his composition, but instead those of renowned poet and author Rudyard Kipling.

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KING GEORGE V CHRISTMAS BROADCAST OF 1932

Video Credit: Roman Styran (You Tube)

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With an estimated 20 million subjects around the globe witness to the event, King George V’s first Royal Christmas Message had an enormous impact on the British people. Beyond a far more pronounced feeling of closeness to the monarchy, the use of the wireless radio as a means to speak to the realm created a unifying force of patriotism through shared values, hardships, sacrifices, challenges and the ultimate success and victory possible, despite all odds, created by a unified sense of purpose. Though unknown to him at the time, King George V set the precedent and ultimate stage for his son, King George VI, as well as the British government, to galvanize an entire nation to fight for their survival together as one people during the dark days of World War II.

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King George VI delivering his first Christmas Message Broadcast, 1939

King George VI delivering his first Christmas Message Broadcast, 1939

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Although the monarch’s Royal Christmas Message was becoming increasing popular, it did not become an annual event until Christmas Day 1939. Overcoming through exhaustive speech therapy a life-long pronounced stammer, King George VI spoke to his people in the midst of the onset of the horrors of World War II. With conviction and valor, King George VI reassured his people by forthrightly telling them, “A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.”

Although King George VI was a constitutional monarch with only the power to advise, his ability to reassure his people through his committed example of true courage and shared sacrifice as communicated through the print media and wireless radio profoundly impacted morale and confidence among the realm that victory was not only possible but inevitable. Consequently, the Royal Christmas Message broadcasts that King George VI conscientiously prepared and then persevering and haltingly articulated during World War II hold a pronounced importance in the history of the nation.

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Queen Elizabeth II delivering her Christmas Message Broadcast, 2015

Queen Elizabeth II delivering her Christmas Message Broadcast, 2015

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Upon her ascension to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II delivered via radio transmission a memorable inaugural Royal Christmas Message, asking her subjects for their prayers on her behalf. Five years into her reign, Her Majesty then entered a new age of communication by delivering the first televised Royal Christmas Message, broadening and personalizing further still the reach of the monarchy to the people. For the first time in history, common people caught a glimpse of the Royal Family’s homes decked for the holidays, further humanizing the monarchy in the eyes of the subjects of the realm. By 1960, to insure all people throughout the Commonwealth nations could view the Queen’s Royal Christmas Message, her holiday broadcasts became prerecorded, further increasing the monarch’s ability to reach her intended audience.

Unlike her grandfather King George V, Queen Elizabeth does not rely on others to craft her words and message. Each year, Her Majesty selects a meaningful theme often driven by current events and builds her speech around it. For example, in 1966, the Queen focused her message towards women, telling those listening at home and abroad, “In the modern world the opportunities for women to give something of value to the human family are greater than ever, because, through their own efforts, they are now beginning to play their full part in public life.” With the advent of the ability to prerecord her broadcasts, Her Majesty also is able to highlight visually events of the year, along with her thoughts and opinions about their impact.

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Queen Elizabeth II delivering her Christmas Message Broadcast, 1997

Queen Elizabeth II delivering her Royal Christmas Message, 1997

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Although the Royal Christmas Messages of Queen Elizabeth II rarely hold the historical impact of her beloved father during the war years, her annual conversation with her people sometimes does rise to importance in establishing the monarchy as continually viable. This took on a critical priority in the Queen’s 1997 Christmas broadcast, the first Her Majesty delivered after the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Her Majesty’s affection from her people at its lowest in her reign, Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Christmas Message of 1997 provided essential reassurance of her humanity, compassion, and love for her family.

Now an annual cherished tradition for over 80 years, the monarch’s Royal Christmas Message broadcasts continue to hold an essential role in binding and unifying the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations, not only in reinforcing the pride and patriotism of the realm’s subjects but also in insuring the continued popularity and vibrancy of their constitutional monarchy.

Happy Christmas! Long live the Queen!

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A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FOR US ALL

christmas-mistletoe

“I believe that the Christian message, in the words of a familiar blessing, remains profoundly important to us all:

‘Go forth into the world in peace,

be of good courage,

hold fast that which is good,

render to no man evil for evil,

strengthen the faint-hearted,

Support the weak,

help the afflicted,

honour all men.’

It is a simple message of compassion… and yet as powerful as ever today, two thousand years after Christ’s birth.

I hope this day will be as special for you as it is for me. May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.”

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— Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas Day, 2000 —

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RESOURCES

Author Unidentified, A History of Christmas Broadcasts, The Official Website of the British Monarchy.

Logie, Phyllis, Looking at the History of the Queen’s Christmas Day Speech, Humanities: Every Topic, Every Angle, 360.
Proctor, Charlie, A History of Christmas Broadcasts, Royal Central.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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"Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell" Final Blog Stop

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Henry VIII’s Letters to Anne Boleyn, by Sandi Vasoli

June 20, 2016 in Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

by Sandi Vasoli

'The Banquet of Henry VIII in York Place' , 1832 Artist: James Stephanoff

‘The Banquet of Henry VIII in York Place’ , 1832
Artist: James Stephanoff

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Video Credit: CBS News — 60 Minutes, posted by GreenGriot

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There came to me suddenly in the night the most afflicting news that could have arrived…

— Henry VIII —

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What a heart-wrenching statement!

One can almost picture a royal page, gripping a lantern which pierced the darkness of deepest night, knocking tentatively at the door of the King’s chambers. Tense with anxiety, the servant delivers the dreaded message to Henry VIII, who had just been roused from sleep by the chamberlain at the Palace of Tyttenhanger, where Henry and his Queen, Katherine of Aragon, were in temporary residence in a desperate attempt to evade the dreaded sweating sickness, then rampant in London.

It is the first line of the letter Henry hastily wrote – that very night – to his love, Anne Boleyn. The month was June in the year 1528 …

As is well known, there exists a cache of letters: 17 to be exact, which Henry penned to Anne over the course of several years. These letters, remarkably, are housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica, the Vatican Library, in Rome. It is a mystery in the story of Henry and Anne, and one subject to great speculation, as to how the letters made their way into the collection of papers, manuscripts, and documents owned by the Pope, and which, today, are kept under careful guard.

In September of 2012, as part of my research, while writing the fictional memoir Je Anne Boleyn, I was granted the great privilege of access to the Manuscripts Room in the Papal Library with a rare opportunity to study the love letters Henry composed. As I progressed through the various levels of security in the fascinating and intimidating realm of the Library, it became increasingly evident how greatly these letters are treasured and protected within the thick, ancient walls. I was the object of polite, but keen scrutiny by the gentlemen in the Office of the Secretariat, and by the Scriptores, the Assistants, and the Vice Assistants in Manuscritti – the Manuscript reading room. Once seated in the whitewashed room, the barrel-vaulted ceiling soaring overhead, statues peering down from alcoves carved into the walls, I waited while the decision was made by the Director as to whether I would be granted an audience with the documents which expressed the depths of the heart of Henry VIII.

At last, I was summoned to be seated in the first row of study tables, directly in front of the administrators, and a Scriptore approached me and handed me a smallish book, quite unremarkable in its appearance. It was about 7 by 5 inches, and covered in a pale green fabric. There was no decorative element to it at all; in fact, it appeared almost as would a homemade keepsake book, the pages within bulging a bit. No gloves were required to be worn, yet I knew that this was something I would touch minimally, and only with the greatest of care as I examined it.

I opened the cover, my heart literally pounding in my chest.  I was met by the sight of the first letter: on thin, yellowed, subtly lined parchment which had been affixed to a larger page at some point since its acquisition by the Church of Rome – there was his handwriting! and his opening words were “Ma Maestres et Amye…”  my Mistress and Friend…

I was overcome with the awareness that I was inches from something so personal, so intimate – a message written by the hand of Henry VIII intended only for the eyes of Anne Boleyn. And 485 years later, there sat I, scrutinizing the same scratches of the pen, the same words crossed out, the same smudges made by his very hand, as did Anne. It was an experience like no other I have ever had.

Very quickly, one could identify the unique markers of Henry’s handwriting. The strong, bold strokes, the decorative letter ‘q’, the broad slash  ‘/’ which indicated the end of a sentence. I smiled to myself as I observed that he had a very difficult time maintaining the straightness of his lines of writing. In almost every letter, by the 4th or 5th line, there was a decided slant upwards, and by the end of the page, the words crowded themselves toward the upper right corner.

Also fascinating was the difference he used in ink color and the thickness of the pen nibs.  Each variation created a quite distinct feeling for that particular letter. In my view, it became very apparent which letter was written first in this series (though it is evident by his own statement that Henry had written other letters to Anne, but perhaps none of such a personal nature).   The early letters were  formal in their composition, their execution, and their penmanship. This would make sense, based upon the fact that Anne had not yet determined her position with regard to Henry’s feelings for her. He courted her with beautiful writing!

Henry’s frustration with Anne’s absence and her reluctance to commit to him appeared clearly in the letter which was pasted fourth within the Vatican’s book (they are not placed in a particular sequence in time, nor are any of the letters dated). Written with unusually large, bold strokes, well-spaced and purposefully transcribed, Henry states that he is in great agony, not knowing how to interpret her recent letters (they are not known to be in existence – if only we had them today!). It is not difficult to imagine Henry, reading and re-reading Anne’s letters, analyzing very word, seeking to know if she would promise to be his. When he could not determine it, he wrote her what is well-nigh to a command, but only one of the most romantic nature, telling her that it is “absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been above a whole year stricken avec du dart d’amours” – with the dart of love.   My interpretation of the events documented early in their romance leads me to believe this letter was written in the late autumn of 1526.

In response to this ‘command of the heart’, Anne capitulates – its own element in their love story also very touching – and her reply causes Henry to compose a beautiful missive: the letter in which he first inscribes the famous heart. This reply represents the most careful, most beautiful penmanship in the collection. The first letter of the first word, ‘D’ is created almost as an illumination: dark and dramatic, with a flourish intended to set the tone. That first line is exactly inscribed thusly:  «  De l’estrene si bel que rien plus (notant le toute) je vous en marcy tres cordialement… » ; meaning ‘For a present so beautiful that nothing could be more so (considering the whole of it), I thank you most cordially…’  This letter finishes with a decoration he added to the close: his initials, thoroughly embellished, enclosing the very tiny words “aultre” and “ne cherse” (‘Henry seeks no other’ than AB), and in the middle of all, a long, carefully drawn heart with AB at its core. The whole was clearly intended to present a special visual message, and it is one that cannot be mistaken.

As I turned the leaves of this book, fingers barely making contact with the edges, I literally drew in my breath in shock at the sight of the letter on the tenth page.  Splattered with droplets of ink, smudged from his large hand smearing the extraneous drops, and its look in such great contrast to the other entries, I was stunned to see the pained letter Henry wrote in the middle of that night in June 1528 when he learned his love had fallen ill of the sweat.  Composed in French, it was plainly written in a state of panic. The quill had been jabbed into the inkwell with every few strokes of the pen. This was apparent because the application of the ink to the page was dark, with a fine surrounding spray as the nib caught at the parchment in haste. It was amazing to see, at close range through my magnifying glass, the marks of his hand as it tracked to the right along the page, smearing what had been spattered in his haste. His message, as the pen attacked the page, is emotional and almost pathetic in its poignancy. He states that he would willingly bear the illness in her place, and bemoans the fact that they are apart at such a terrible time. He is distraught because his primary physician was unavailable, saying that “to obtain one of my chief joys on earth – that is the care of my mistress“, he will instead immediately send William Butts, his second physician in command. He then beseeches her to do as the doctor advises. He closes by telling her that he hopes to see her again, which will be a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.  He tells her that he is, and forever will be, her loyal and most assured servant. He then encloses his initials around hers, which he again encases in a heart, drawn with an unsteady hand.

As I sat looking at the whole of this letter, so plainly the work of a man completely and totally in love, I will admit it brought tears to my eyes.  The depth of his feeling for her was eminently visible.  Reviewing the pattern of the letters, with this particular one representing a decisive moment in their relationship, my view of their love story was reshaped forever. I have no doubt that Anne was the love of Henry’s life, and I felt very privileged to have been able to gain such an insight.

This, and the following letters in the collection, which grow ever more familiar in their tone and their appearance, as did the couple in their affiliation, record one of the most fascinating love stories of all time. One wonders how they were delivered, and by whom, to the Pope, then to be preserved in his library of documents.

When viewing the letters, placed together in a volume which was clearly created once they arrived in Rome, it is apparent with just a little deduction, that they were stolen in a group. Thinking about this just a bit further, it becomes plain that Anne must have kept them together…and to me this indicates that she treasured them.  If so, then how were they taken from her?  It’s doubtful that she left them lying about casually; instead they were likely put away with her most personal possessions.  One can imagine easily that she kep them in a locked cask or chest, along with her best jewelry – gifts from Henry. So… who might have been able to gain access to the entire group of letters?  We know that the hiring and use of spies was rampant in the courts of England and Europe in the 16th century. Those individuals who were against Anne, and her burgeoning relationship with Henry would have wanted to prove that his desire for a divorce was not sparked by remorse over an unlawful marriage, but instead by besotted love for Anne. Who even knew about the letters… and who had access to her privy bedchamber which is likely where she kept them? None of these answers have been recorded for posterity, but I believe firmly that Anne had a spy in her midst who was performing the service of a chambermaid. Likely she had hired a lady’s maid upon the recommendation of someone she previously trusted, who then planted a spy to observe Anne’s habits and snoop into her belongings. I believe it was that maid who took the letters, and, for a fee, passed them on to one of Katharine’s faction of supporters, who sent them post haste to Rome.

The confiscation and delivery of the cache of letters into the hands of Pope Clement VII has been a serendipitous gift to the following generations, since they have been preserved as documentation of this historic love story.

To imagine how we might interpret Anne’s view of the letters, her responses to them, and her reaction to their theft from her personal belongings, read the fictional memoir, Struck With the Dart of Love : Je Anne Boleyn, available on Amazon in paperback and e-reader,  and visit my website www.sandravasoli.com.

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And now Sandi discusses one of Anne Boleyn’s letters… or is it?

VIDEO CREDIT: MadeGlobal Publishing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sandy Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower; Struck with the Dart of Love: Je Anne Boleyn, Book One; and Truth Endures, Je Anne Boleyn, Book Two earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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Queen Elizabeth is 90 Years Young Today! To Celebrate, Enjoy Some QE2 Fun Facts!

April 21, 2016 in News, Queens of World History, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

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Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom of Great Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch God Save the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom of Great Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch, is 90 years old today.
God Save the Queen! Long May She Reign!

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“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
– Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, on her 21st Birthday –

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Today, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, turns 90 years old. How will she celebrate?  A walk-about and lunch with President Barack Obama, along with lighting the first of 1000 bonfires to commemorate her 90 years, awaits Her Majesty. In other words, the Queen will continue to fulfill her promise to her subjects. Today, like any other throughout her long reign, will be a day in service to the realm.

How will Queenanneboleyn.com honor Her Majesty? Well, like any other day here on the website, we will make an attempt to educate and entertain our browsers. So, within that spirit, here are several “fun facts” about Queen Elizabeth II:

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

1. Folks, this is a Tudor Era themed website, so it will interest our members and regular browsers to know that Her Majesty is not only a direct descendant of Mary Boleyn Carey Stafford, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, but rumor has it she may also be a direct descendant of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex through her mother’s lineage. Gregory wasn’t so dumb after all.

2. We are very fortunate Her Majesty is with us and that the Queen Mum graced the realm for so many years. In an age where such surgery was very complex and risky, Queen Elizabeth II was born by cesarean section.

3. Like Queen Anne Boleyn did before her, Her Majesty speaks fluent French.

Queen Elizabeth II with President Jimmy Carter

Queen Elizabeth II with U.S. President Jimmy Carter

4. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are competing to become the 13th President of the United States to hold office since the Queen’s ascension to the throne.

5. Are you a friend or follower of the Queen? She joined Facebook in February 2010.

6. Just how committed is the Defender of the Faith? Pope Francis is the seventh pontiff to lead the world’s Roman Catholic Church while Her Majesty has reigned as Queen of England.

7. Her Majesty is a generous and thoughtful boss. She selects personalized Christmas gifts for all of her staff, including gifting over 90,000 Christmas puddings.

8. There are some very lucky English subjects out there. Thirty call the Queen their godmother.

9. With everyone debating whether a surviving portrait of Queen Anne Boleyn exists, there are at least 130 portraits of Queen Elizabeth II!

10. Write this down for your next game of Trivial Pursuit. Queen Elizabeth II is the first British monarch to visit China.

Queen Elizabeth II and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Queen Elizabeth II and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

11. The Queen’s crown is certainly Imperial. Not only is she a monarch of a Commonwealth of Nations, but Her Majesty left a message for those who may someday venture to the moon.

12. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. Justin Welby is the Queen’s seventh Archbishop of Canterbury.

13. Secretary Hillary Clinton has nothing over the Queen regarding her access to the world wide web. Her Majesty sent her first email in 1976.

14. Everyone knows the Queen loves corgis. How many have shared their home with her? At last count, Her Majesty has included at least thirty corgis and four dorgis in her family. What is a dorgi?  A new dog breed Her Majesty created.

15. Caroline Kennedy loved her pony, Macaroni, but not as much Princess Elizabeth loved her Shetland pony, Peggy.

Queen Elizabeth's Horse Wins Historic Gold Cup At Royal Ascot

Queen Elizabeth’s Horse “Estimate” Wins Historic Gold Cup At Royal Ascot

16. There is the great Triple Crown-winning racehorse American Pharoah, and then there are the horses Her Majesty breeds at the royal studs. They are spectacular. The Queen’s horses won races at Royal Ascot on a number of occasions, four winners during Ascot week 1957 alone.

17. You know nothing, Jon Snow. Though Her Majesty visited the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones, she resisted the urge to sit upon it.

18. Salute! Queen Elizabeth II is Great Britain’s first and only female royal to serve in the military.

19. Do you have a flat tire on your car or truck? No problem, Her Majesty knows how to change it. Spark plugs are no challenge for her, either.

20. During World War II, the Queen and her sister Princess Margaret lived at Windsor Castle, where the royal jewels were hidden in the castle dungeons stored in hat boxes.

21. Step aside, Thomas Cranmer and King Edward VI. Queen Elizabeth II will be the last reigning monarch to be “home schooled”, her religious education provided by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

22. The ultimate letter writer, Her Majesty has answered over 3.5 million, yes million, items of correspondence. Britons married 60 years or celebrating their 100th birthdays receive a personalized telegram.

Prince George of Cambridge

Prince George of Cambridge

23. Awwwwwwwwww, how cute is this? Prince George of Cambridge calls Her Majesty “Gan Gan”. I would not suggest trying this title yourself.

24. Need change for a ten-pound note? If asking the Queen, she will only be able to oblige on Sunday, the only day she carries cash. The Church of England exempts no one.

25. Anyone have an umbrella handy? It poured buckets the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

26. Maundy Thursday was expensive this year! Tradition dictates the Queen share bags of “Maundy Money” with as many subjects as she is old.

27. Do have sympathy for the Queen. For an hour a week, she is compelled to meet with the Prime Minister — twelve different power hungry personalities during her reign.

28. The Queen of England’s wedding gown was exquisite. Even so, like everyone else in Britain at the time, she needed to save her ration coupons to pay for it.

Photographer Queen Elizabeth

Photographer Queen Elizabeth

29. Although the paparazzi is a frustrating fact of life Her Majesty struggles with daily, she herself is an avid photographer.

30. When in England, be careful to pay homage to the swans. They all belong to Her Majesty, every last one of them. No wonder they are so cheeky.

31. When your image is on money and you rule the realm, there is no need for formalities. Queen Elizabeth has no passport, car registrations, or driver’s license.

32. Though 90 years old, Her Majesty is a modern woman. She does not carry her husband’s name.

33. Queen Elizabeth II is one brave woman who is calm under pressure. In 1982, she woke up one morning to find a stalker sitting at the edge of her bed. Her Majesty engaged the intruder in conversation about his family for ten minutes before a footman finally roused and seized the man.

34. Cymru am Byth! The Queen’s wedding ring is made from a nugget of Welsh gold. King Henry VII would be pleased.

35. The Queen is a busy woman! She is the patron of over 600 charitable organizations! Not only that, in 2015, she attended more official engagements than HRHs Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; and Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge, combined!

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GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!!

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

LONG MAY SHE REIGN!!

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Anne Boleyn and the Cultural Arts by Sandra Vasoli

September 18, 2015 in Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

By Sandi Vasoli

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This sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger is thought by some art historians to be Queen Anne Boelyn.

This sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger is thought by some art historians to be Queen Anne Boleyn.

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In 1513, a young girl of about 12 or 13 years of age boarded a ship in Dover, England, to make a crossing into France and the European continent. The journey, to join the court of Margaret of Austria, would provide the young woman with an education that very few English noblewomen were privileged to have. Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary were the daughters of a Sir Thomas Boleyn, a cultured and well-to-do courtier in the service of the magnificent King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas had carefully made arrangements for both Anne and Mary, and expected that the learning and the comportment they would be taught in the European capital of Brabant would equip them to make splendid marriages, and to bring honor to their families once they returned to England.

In Margaret’s court there were children of illustrious nobles from across Europe, and Anne was to become one of Margaret’s filles d’honneur, young ladies who would learn French and manners, and associate with the elite on the Continent.

Palace of Mechelen

Palace of Mechelen

Anne remained in the Palace at Mechelen for between one to several years. During this time, she endeared herself to the Regent, the Archduchess Margaret. Anne was an avid student of French, and quickly became fluent. She learned the subtle skills of conversation and conduct befitting a lady. She also began an unofficial study of such things as architecture, textiles, personal beauty and style, and humanism. She was so adept at French that when Mary Tudor, the sister of the English king became betrothed to King Louis XII of France, it is probable that Anne was sent, along with her sister Mary, from the Low Countries to the French Court to assist Mary Tudor with translation and adjusting to life as the new French Queen.

The Royal Château de Blois

The Royal Château de Blois

Thus began Anne’s stay in France – first serving Mary, then in the service of Queen Claude – for possibly seven years. This formative period in Anne’s life allowed her to become immersed in the highly refined culture of France and the French court. She met and associated with many people who were instrumental in the development of the Renaissance, including Marguerite d’Angoulême – a woman whose brilliance and presence appear to have been extremely influential to Anne – renowned Christian humanists, musicians and painters – even perhaps Leonardo da Vinci, who stayed at the court of François I and Claude for a time.

Anne returned to England some time between December of 1521 and March of 1522, because in March her appearance is notated as a participant in an elegant court masque in Henry’s Palace of Placentia. Whether or not Henry took note of Anne on that evening, we do not know. However, over the next several years, Anne traveled back and forth between her parents’ estate, the manor of Hever in Kent, and whichever palace was being occupied by the King’s court.

By late 1526 or early 1527, however, it is certain that the lovely, graceful, and cultured young Anne Boleyn had become the object of King Henry’s fascination. It’s likely that other men had been entranced by Anne before the King, among them young Lord Henry Percy and the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt; whether or not she returned their affections in kind we just do not know.

Why was she so incredibly attractive to men of taste and power? Clearly, Anne possessed that indefinable something which draws men in pursuit, and women in grudging admiration and then jealousy. Anne was sophisticated, elegant, and poised. She was intelligent and talented. And she understood the psychology of all things beautiful. As Anne established her place by the side of Henry VIII, she was able to exercise her skills in the many arenas of her talents. Truly, she was a prodigiously talented woman, as we look back on her from the vantage point of today. Not only was she an avid sportswoman, hunting, hawking, competing at bowls, archery and other outdoor pursuits (which she did well), but she excelled at the more typical female pastimes.

Anne, like other women, did needlework. Whether or not she enjoyed it we don’t know, but there is a piece of fabric from a suite of bedclothes which remains and is attributed to Anne and her ladies, and the craftsmanship is fine.

Lute, detailed from the portrait "The Ambassadors" by Hands Holbein the Younger

Lute, detailed from the portrait “The Ambassadors” by Hands Holbein the Younger

It is recorded that she played the lute beautifully, and also perhaps the virginals (an early type of keyboard instrument). She sang, and Anne and Henry enjoyed singing together. They also composed music together, which demonstrates a deeper knowledge of music than that required to merely sing prettily. Throughout her adult life, and especially as Queen, Anne acted as a patron to the talented musicians who served Court. Thomas Tallis, one of the most noteworthy of English composers, thrived during Anne’s time. Sadly, it is well known that Anne greatly enjoyed the music of the accomplished young musician Mark Smeaton, and her frequent requests for his music contributed to Smeaton’s being accused as one of her lovers in 1536.

The Ambassadors Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors
Hans Holbein the Younger

Anne was also a serious patron of fine art. She shared a consistent working relationship with the brilliant Hans Holbein the Younger, who was in residence in the King’s and Queen’s court from the late 1520’s. He served as a court painter, executing primarily portraits, and from Holbein we know what many of the significant members of Court at that time looked like. It is likely that Anne directly commissioned Holbein to create one of his most acknowledged paintings, The Ambassadors. Highly symbolic, it represented the insurgence of the Reformed faith which was sweeping England in 1533. It is so unfortunate that no verified portrait of Anne by Holbein exists today. Surely there was one, probably only to be destroyed after her death.

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Whitehall

Whitehall

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One of Anne’s most significant accomplishments as a woman well ahead of her time was the partnership she shared with Henry as they, together, redesigned and reconstructed the former York Place, a residence of Cardinal Wolsey’s, into the magnificent palace they both called home – Whitehall. Henry, proud of his exceptional, beloved Anne, invited her to assist in developing the architectural plans for the refurbishment of the Palace. She did so, reveling in the fact that her rival, Katharine of Aragon, would never set foot over its threshold. Whitehall became a most spectacular royal estate, as did Hampton Court Palace. Anne’s influence was felt there as well.

Not only a woman of style, beauty and a keen intelligence, Anne Boleyn was a cultural icon, and her influence in these areas is felt today.

Meet The Author

Sandi Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Sandra Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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Anne Boleyns Letter From The Tower

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

MadeGlobal Publishing is graciously offering a complimentary copy of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, A New Assessment to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on September 25, 2015. Good Luck!!!

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Elizabeth II, Queen of “The Greatest Generation”

September 9, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

By Beth von Staats

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Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom of Great Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch God Save the Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom of Great Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch

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“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
– Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, on her 21st Birthday –

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Video Credit: Maestro Stokowski, You Tube

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Aided by ascension to the throne at a young age, the wonders of modern medicine, a culture heralding tradition as a core value, and most pointedly a steadfast call to duty, Queen Elizabeth II today becomes the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch – not just for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, but also each individually, history heralding back a millennium. Her Majesty, Elizabeth the Second, is not only Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, and Defender of the Faith by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, but she is also our anointed Queen of “The Greatest Generation” – the beloved Queen a full partner of those men, women and children for whom the rest of us owe our freedom, and for many of us, our very lives.

The then Princess Elizabeth held by her father,  then Prince Albert, Duke of York.

The then Princess Elizabeth held by her father, then Prince Albert, Duke of York.

Born to Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George, Duke of York and his delightful Duchess, once the beloved Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Her Majesty the Queen was not born to reign. She and her younger sister Margaret were the children of the “spare to the throne”, not the heir. Initially, this was quite fortunate indeed. Unable to verbally articulate due to a profound stammer, Her Majesty’s father was once ill equipped to reign in a age where one communicated directly to the realm via speeches in large forums and worldwide by radio. Through one of Great Britain’s greatest a twists of fate, however, not only through exhaustive therapy did the Duke of York overcome his demons, but he also overcame the demons of his brother, a man who chose his personal desires over duty. Thus, upon the abdication of King Edward VIII, the Duke of York suddenly became King George VI and Princess Elizabeth, heir presumptive.

The Victoria Cross is awarded for supreme courage, a disregard for danger and complete devotion to duty.

The Victoria Cross is awarded for supreme courage, disregard for danger and complete devotion to duty.

“For Valour.” These two words penned originally to the Victoria Cross appropriately defined the monarchy of Queen Elizabeth II’s father, so much so that Sir Winston Churchill penned them once again upon a note laid with the Government wreath accompanying the King’s casket. King George VI’s reign was short, but through His Majesty’s example of courage and fortitude, along with that of his remarkable wife, Great Britain galvanized with a shared strength of purpose during the dire years of World War II. In a generation where “all gave some, and some gave all”, as everyone did around her, through the example and steadfast support of her parents, the then Princess Elizabeth “rolled up her sleeves” to do the work that needed to be done to win a war so crucial to preserve a nation, to preserve an empire, to preserve a way of life going back a millennium.

Princess Elizabeth (left) and Princess Margaret (right) as Girl Guides

Princess Elizabeth (left) and Princess Margaret (right) as Girl Guides

World War II erupted while the then 13 year old Princess Elizabeth was vacationing at Balmoral, Scotland with her sister and parents on 3 September 1939. Obviously, King George and Queen Elizabeth rushed to London. Their children initially remained in relative safety at Balmoral cared for by their nanny and governess, along with other royal staff. With the war concentrating for the moment on the European mainland, the Royal Family spent the holidays as usual at Sandringham. Once the King and Queen returned to London, however, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret took up residence at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. Members of the Girl Guides, they continued forward with as normal childhoods as their royal status and the war would allow.

British children board a ship on their way to Canada.

British children board a ship on their way to Canada.

It was during the early months of 1940 that discussions took place regarding the safeguarding of the Royal Family, particularly Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Moving the girls to Canada for the duration of the war or at the very least to Wales or Northern Scotland were all options “on the table”. Had King George VI decided to safeguard his daughters and in doing so also safeguard the succession by moving them to a safe haven, no one would have found fault with it. Instead, Queen Elizabeth famously explained to the realm her thoughts on the matter, “… the children could not go without me, and I could not possibly leave the King, and the King will never leave.” With that so pointedly decided, by May 1940, official announcements declared the girls were living in a “house in the country”. Instead, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were safeguarded for the remaining duration of the war within the walls of Windsor Castle, it’s deepest dungeons, as well as caves dug into the hillside by King George III, used as air raid sheltering. How the Princesses felt while holed up in a dungeon or a cave while bombs fell on London can only be imagined.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit Londoners after aircraft bombings of the city.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit Londoners after aircraft bombings of the city.

Sharing Windsor Castle with a Grenadier Guards company, Princess Elizabeth began her now life-long call to service, sharing meals and playing the royal host. Though the castle was gloomy, it’s contents protected from possible bombing damage (including the royal jewels being stored in hat boxes within the castle vaults), the Royal Family made the most of a downright dangerous situation, the King and Queen visiting their children on weekends. Nearly killed themselves during a bombing raid on Buckingham Palace, the King and Queen continued their royal duties, raising morale visiting British subjects displaced by bombing raids, British troops, and munition factories. Following their example, Princess Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast to the children of Great Britain in 1940. Her remarkably composed broadcast is highlighted below.

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Video Credit: British Pathé War Archives, You Tube

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Prince George, Duke of Kent

Prince George, Duke of Kent

War, like illness, is often an inevitable equalizer among classes of people within a society, and the Royal Family did not avoid the heartache of many impacted by World War II Great Britain. Thus, at age 15, Princess Elizabeth mourned the death of her beloved uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent. Killed in a plane crash during active duty, Prince George left his wife and three children, the youngest only seven weeks old. It is within this context of nationally shared heartbreak that Princess Elizabeth began her royal duties in earnest, named by her father Colonel of the very Grenadier Guards she hosted in her wartime home at Windsor Castle. With steeled determination and poise, Princess Elizabeth dutifully inspected her troops.

 

Princess Elizabeth changing a tire while serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service

Princess Elizabeth changing a tire while serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service

At age 16, Princess Elizabeth dutifully registered with the Labour Exchange, a requirement of all British teenagers. Eager like her peers to join the military services, the King finally acquiesced to her desire to contribute more meaningfully to the war effort. Thus, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) at age 18, becoming to date the only female member of the Royal Family in British history to serve her country in the military. A subaltern, Princess Elizabeth worked alongside her peers, learning how to change tires, dismantle and repair motor vehicle engines, and how to drive heavy military vehicles, ambulances in particular. Beyond Princess Elizabeth’s military service, she became of age to act as Councillor. Within this role, she acted as a Regent when her father was away, most notably when he made a highly top secret trip to Italy.

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(left to right) The then Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Winston Churchill, King George VI and Princess Margaret celebrate before and with Londoners upon the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945.

(left to right) The then Princess Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Winston Churchill, King George VI and Princess Margaret celebrate before and with Londoners upon the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V.E. Day, 8 May 1945.

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Through the shared hardship of people throughout the allied nations, along with the Grace of God, World War II ended throughout Europe on 8 May 1945. After joining her sister, parents and Prime Minister Winston Churchill upon the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet those in celebration, Princess Elizabeth, grown from a child to a woman through the hardship of war alongside all other British children of the “Greatest Generation”, slipped outside with her sister. Together they celebrated unrecognized alongside their London neighbors, cheering their parents on to immortality.

God save the Queen. Long may she reign.

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SOURCES:

Author Unidentified, Rare Pictures of Queen Elizabeth II Serving in World War II, Vintage Everyday: Rare Pictures.

Cohen, Jennie, 8 Things You May Not Know About Queen Elizabeth II, History in the Headlines.

Couzens, Ellen, The Queen’s War, Royal Central.

Wallace, Irving, She Did Her Bit, Collier’s Magazine, March 22, 1947.

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Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth  is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

Beth’s short biography, Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell, was recently released by MadeGlobal Publishing. A second biography, Thomas More In a Nutshell, and a full length book focusing on Henrican martyrdom are current works in process.

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Thomas Cranmer by Beth von Staats

To Purchase Thomas Cranmer “In a Nutshell”.

Click the link below!

Thomas Cranmer “In a Nutshell”

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The Coronation Jewels Worn by Elizabeth II, By Sandi Vasoli

September 9, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Guest Writers, Queens of World History by Beth von Staats

by Sandi Vasoli

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Queen Elizabeth II on Her Coronation Day

Queen Elizabeth II on Her Coronation Day

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Early in the morning of 6 February, 1952, this urgent report was broadcast from London by BBC News:

“His Majesty, King George VI, has died peacefully in his sleep at Sandringham House. The official announcement from Sandringham, given at 1045 GMT, said the King retired in his usual health, but passed away in his sleep and was found dead in bed at 0730 GMT by a servant. He was 56, and was known to have been suffering from a worsening lung condition.

Princess Elizabeth, who is at the Royal hunting lodge in Kenya, immediately becomes Queen at the age of 25. She has been informed of her father’s death, and is preparing to return to London, but a thunderstorm has delayed the departure of her plane. She is expected back tomorrow afternoon, when she will take the Royal Oath which will seal her accession to the throne.” (1)

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Sir Winston Churchill

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Sir Winston Churchill upon her arrival from Kenya.

Flying back to London from Kenya with her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Elizabeth was greeted by a committee of officials headed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The city and the country were in mourning, yet, following ancient tradition, Elizabeth was proclaimed queen on 8 February, 1952. She was 25 years of age.

Protocol required that an appropriate period of official mourning take place prior to the coronation ceremonies for the new queen. So, 16 months after the death of her father, having served that time as the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, the elaborately planned and spectacular event took place. Elizabeth Windsor was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June, 1953 in Westminster Abbey. Prior to her coronation, there had been thirty-eight Sovereigns who had acceded the throne in the ancient, stunning Abbey of Westminster.

There are very few, if any, ceremonies or occasions the world over which holds equal significance and pageantry as does the crowning of a new king or queen of the United Kingdom. The fact that most of the ritual is centuries old, and has remained in place as such for close to a thousand years offers a unique and quite spectacular view into the grandeur and durability of the British monarchy. And of course, an extraordinary element of the day, with its visual grandeur and historical significance, are the jewels worn by the new monarch.

The coronation of Elizabeth II was noteworthy in that it was the first such ceremony ever to have been captured on film, and broadcast to millions of viewers the world over. Those viewers were able to marvel at the solemnity of the proceedings, and they were also offered a glimpse of the breathtaking jewels worn by Elizabeth.

Diamond Diadem

Diamond Diadem

Attired in a silk gown designed specifically for the day by the couturier Norman Hartnell, Elizabeth entered Westminster Abbey wearing the Diamond Diadem, also known as the George IV State Diadem. (2) The Diadem was made in 1820. It consists of over 320 carats, and 1,333 diamonds. Its circular base features 169 pearls. The sculpted design represents roses, thistles and shamrocks which are traditional symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Coronation Necklace

Coronation Necklace

Setting off her elegant gown were the Coronation Necklace and Earrings. These pieces were commissioned in 1858 by Queen Victoria. The necklace is set with 26 enormous, perfect diamonds, graduated in size around the actual circlet, with the largest of those weighing over 11 carats. The pendant diamond is the Lahore Diamond: 22.48 carats, which had been culled from the Timur Ruby necklace of India. The earrings are pendant diamonds suspended from double studs – the pendants also taken from the Timur Ruby necklace and remade by Victoria. (3) 

Coronation Ring

Coronation Ring

During the ceremony, a symbolic ring was placed on Elizabeth’s fourth finger by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Known as the Coronation Ring, it has, since the thirteenth century, contained a ruby. Elizabeth’s ring was made in 1831 for the coronation of William IV. Its center stone is a mixed-cut octagonal sapphire, set in gold. The sapphire is overlaid with four rectangular-cut and one square-cut ruby which form a cross. The entire ring is bordered with fourteen diamonds, with a diamond on each corner. The band is gold. (4) 

Coronation Armills

Coronation Armills

At a particular stage in the coronation service, Elizabeth had placed on her arms a pair of armills – cufflike bracelets. They represent sincerity and wisdom. The pair worn by Elizabeth had been specifically commissioned for her investiture. Made of 22 karat gold, they were fashioned by Garrard &Co. and encircle the arm by way of spring clasps, with the hinges designed as Tudor roses. (5)

St. Edward's Crown

St. Edward’s Crown

The moment of crowning is the most significant, most dramatic point in the commencement of the reign of all Sovereigns of England. To signify her accession as an annointed queen, St. Edward’s Crown was placed upon Elizabeth’s head. It is made of solid gold, and was created in 1661. The current St Edward’s Crown was designed after the Restoration of the Monarchy. Legend has it that the lower part may in fact contain part of the original crown of Edward the Confessor. (6)

In the course of the coronation rite, Elizabeth, like other monarchs before her, was presented with the Sovereign’s Orb and the Sceptre with the Cross. The Orb – a gold sphere encircled with diamonds, pearls and other gemstones, and topped with a golden cross, represents the Monarch’s role as Defender of the Faith. The Sceptre, which is intended to indicate that the Monarch has temporal authority under God, is a staff which is set with the second largest diamond in the world: the Great Star of Africa, hewn from the massive Cullinan diamond. (7)

Coronation Septre

Coronation Septre

Finally, and most astonishing of all of the magnificent jewels worn by Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day, and on other state occasions since, is the Imperial Crown. It is stunning, and what’s more, it is rich in history. Many of the stones set in the crown have mysterious and captivating histories. If the gems in this tiara could speak, oh, how legends would come to life! There are pearls reportedly having belonged to Elizabeth I (might they be the pearls which adorned her mother, Anne Boleyn’s, famous necklace?), the Second Star of Africa, the Stuart Sapphire, the Black Prince’s ruby, and St Edward’s Sapphire, which may well be over one thousand years old. Such a piece defies imagination. It is, possibly the best representation of the majesty, the mystery, and the ravishing glamour of the coronation of a new king or queen.

To hear about, and see the Imperial State Crown, watch this charming video in which Elizabeth II describes the treasure. It will leave you breathless! (8)

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Video Credit: Royal Insight (You Tube)
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Source Notes:
.

1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/6/newsid_2711000/2711265.stm

2.http://www.royal.gov.uk/LatestNewsandDiary/Pressreleases/2003/50factsaboutTheQueensCoronation.aspx

3.http://www.royal.gov.uk/the%20royal%20collection%20and%20other%20collections/thecrownjewels/overview.aspx

4.  https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31720/the-sovereigns-ring

5. Ibid

6. http://www.royal.gov.uk/the%20royal%20collection%20and%20other%20collections/thecrownjewels/overview.aspx

7. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31712/the-sovereigns-sceptre-with-cross

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Meet The Author

Sandi Vasoli

Sandi Vasoli

Sandra Vasoli, author of Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Villanova University before embarking on a thirty-five-year career in human resources for a large international company.

Having written essays, stories, and articles all her life, Vasoli was prompted by her overwhelming fascination with the Tudor dynasty to try her hand at writing both historical fiction and non-fiction. While researching what would eventually become her Je Anne Boleyn series, Vasoli was granted unprecedented access to the Papal Library. There she was able to read the original love letters from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn—an event that contributed greatly to her research and writing.

Vasoli currently lives in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two greyhounds.

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Anne Boleyns Letter From The Tower

To Pre-Order Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, A New Assessment

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower

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