A Conversation with Giles Taylor, Renowned Shakespearean Actor Now Performing in WOLF HALL

May 14, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, QAB Guest Interviews and Chats, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

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Giles Taylor

Giles Taylor

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Giles Taylor, renowned English Shakespearean actor, is also a highly respected teacher, mentor and consultant to emerging stage actors. With exhaustive stage, screen and television credits, Giles is well known throughout the United Kingdom for his outstanding acting skills and technical mastery of classical verse and language, rhetoric and form. Currently, Giles is an actor for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Tony nominated Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two, now playing at the Winter Garden Theater, Broadway, New York City. Portraying Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury; Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, and Jean de Dinteville, the French Ambassador, Giles adds richness and authenticity not only to his specific roles, but also to the overall outstanding ensemble cast performance.

QueenAnneBoleyn.com recently caught up with the remarkably gifted Giles Taylor. You will find his insight into a variety of questions posed intriguing.

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Lydia Leonard (left) as Anne Boleyn with Gile Taylor (right) as Thomas Cranmer Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

Lydia Leonard (left) as Anne Boleyn with Giles Taylor (right) as Thomas Cranmer
Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

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Giles, when you were offered the roles you portray in the Royal Shakespeare Company Wolf Hall plays, did you have any idea how popular they would become both in the United Kingdom and the United States?

I knew the books were hugely popular, but had no idea whether the plays would work, let alone catch the public’s imagination as they have done.

Did the apparent knowledge of the American audiences come as a surprise to you?

No. I knew the books were popular in the States, and that the Americans seem to have an insatiable appetite for English History and period drama generally. The pleasant surprise has been our American audiences’ religious knowledge. We are so secular now in the UK that the religious references and jokes went for very little, but here in NYC they go down like a storm!

I am asking this question at the request of a few QAB members and browsers. Through the popular media, many Americans are led to believe that the plays as performed in London were shortened with simplifications made for American audiences. Some Americans took offense to this. Were the changes significant? Or is this “Much Ado About Nothing”?

This is not a case of ‘dumbing down’, if that is what people took offence at. The American producers wanted the show to be 5 to 10 minutes shorter each, and a small handful of references were cut which American audiences would simply not have understood (such as a joke about Stoke Newington being in the countryside… You see, it’s not funny in America!) The rewrites for Broadway were done solely by Hilary Mantel. She wanted to tighten the story-telling and to build on our runs in Stratford and London. This version is certainly the best to date, so actually the American audience should be proud that they have seen the optimum version.

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (Photo Credit: Jesus College, Cambridge)

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
(Photo Credit: Jesus College, Cambridge)

Giles, after enjoying both Wolf Hall plays and also the BBC mini-series, I was struck by how much more prominent a role Thomas Cranmer has in the plays as opposed to the mini-series. In your performance of Thomas Cranmer, did you consult with Hilary Mantel (or a historian) as Ben Miles did for Thomas Cromwell?

I too was shocked by how small a role Cranmer was in the TV version (played by my friend Will Keen, who has just been in Ghosts at BAM.) Hilary gave us extraordinary character profiles (included in the printed copy of the plays) which were very helpful, and of course the books themselves were invaluable. It can be dangerous to over research historical characters, because there are often very differing accounts of them. Fundamentally we have to tell the story in the plays with the words and scenes we’re given. In this case Hilary’s books proved research enough… as well as a rudimentary ‘google’ history lesson. 

I’m fascinated by Cranmer’s marriage to Margrete, but since it does not appear in any form in the plays, there is no point researching it too fully. Otherwise, you run the risk of thinking thoughts that are irrelevant to clear story-telling of the play, which can then muddy your performance somewhat, even if it is truer to the character.

Linguistics research teaches us that Thomas Cranmer’s writing influenced Shakespeare in his. 

Shakespeare is such a magpie. It is no surprise that Cranmer’s writings and turns of phrase influenced him, particularly The Book of Common Prayer, which Shakespeare would have been brought up with and probably known by heart.

Did you dig into your Shakespearean roots to help find his voice?

Because our text is in a more modern vernacular, my Shakespearean knowledge was sadly of little practical use.

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Royal Shakespeare Company WOLF HALL actors from left to right: Nicholas Boulton as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; Matthew Foster as George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford; and Giles Taylor as Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

Royal Shakespeare Company WOLF HALL actors from left to right: Nicholas Boulton as Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk; Benedict Hastings as the King’s Page; Oscar Pearce as George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford; and Giles Taylor as Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond
Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

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In Wolf Hall you and other actors perform multiple roles. I need to say that I was impressed by this, as everyone mastered their roles so brilliantly. I really could not tell the same people portrayed different roles until I read the playbill. Performing multiple roles in the same major Broadway production is unusual in the United States. How common is this in the United Kingdom? As a follow-up, how much skill and flexibility does it require to pull this off convincingly?

It is fairly common in plays which have so many characters. It would simply not be affordable to put these plays on with one actor per character… and no fun for the actors, since the supporting roles are not fulsome or rewarding enough individually.

Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell
Photo Credit: Royal Shakespeare Company

Several people who enjoyed the Wolf Hall plays shared with me their admiration for the cast’s ability to perform two different full length plays, one after the other. How complicated is it to learn the dialogue and acts? Is this as exhausting as we assume? Also, as a follow-up, what strategies do actors use to maintain their passion, endurance and energy?

It is just like doing one long play, so it is no more difficult. For someone like Ben Miles (playing Cromwell) it is a massive undertaking, because he barely leaves the stage. He not only has to know all his lines, but what on earth comes next.

In a recent correspondence, you told me you were heading for “understudy rehearsal”. Can you explain what the role of an understudy is? How common is it for actors hired as understudies to find themselves on stage?

Understudies are a requirement in commercial theatre to prevent loss of revenue from having to cancel a performance through illness or injury. We have been performing these plays since December 2103, and only four understudies have been on, and one of those because of paternity leave. I personally loathe understudying; I find it thankless, stressful and tiresome. Regardless of how good a role you understudy, it is never your role. 

Most American productions will have an entire understudy company separate from the principal company. We, however, have the RSC mould, in which all roles are covered from within the company. If I go on as Wolsey, Tom Wyatt goes on for me. Mark Smeaton goes on for Wyatt… and so on down the line. Seven people change place, which is a nightmare!

With 25 years as an actor and over 15 years as a Shakespearean Consultant, you obviously have exhaustive knowledge of 16th century linguistics and rhetoric. With that as a given, do you also research the historical characters you portray to get a sense of who they were as people? If so, in what ways does that enrich your performance?

I do research them as fully as possible, but as I said above, it can be very confusing and counterproductive. Shakespeare famously wrote his history plays with little regard for actual history! He was too busy trying to flatter Elizabeth or James, or make some political or social point.

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The Globe Theatre, London Photo Credit: Study Experiences

The Globe Theatre, London
Photo Credit: Study Experiences

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I am exceptionally intrigued by the whole concept around the linguistics and phonics playwrights and actors use when performing historical works, whether on stage or screen. In Wolf Hall, modern linguistics and phonics are used. I am curious, Giles, when acting Shakespearean plays whether the phonics you use when speaking is period accurate (original pronunciation) or adapted for a modern audience? Can you explain to members and browsers your philosophy on this and what you teach your students?

The Globe Theatre experiments occasionally with ‘OP’ (original pronunciation), but this is a purely academic exercise. There is little point to my mind presenting Renaissance plays in original pronunciation (all educated supposition anyway), since it only further alienates the audience. The period language is hard enough! Look up Ben Crystal (and his father) on YouTube doing ‘OP”. It is fascinating, but impractical in performance in my opinion.

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Editor’s Note: The YouTube Giles Taylor suggested we view is provided below. It provides an introduction by David and Ben Crystal to the ‘Original Pronunciation’ production of Shakespeare and what it reveals about the history of the English language.

Video Credit: The Open University

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You are a teacher of emerging Shakespearean actors. What do you see as your role in molding the skills of your students? What are you most hoping to impart to them?

Classical verse speaking is taught very poorly in drama schools in England. Young graduates that I meet and work with are seldom confident in what they are doing technically with the verse and language. My approach is to give actors a complete knowledge of how the language and form works, and how they can use it to create their own character and tell their story as dynamically as possible. In short, to take ownership of their text.

Is there a teacher or mentor you most credit for influencing your acting skills and technique?

I did not go to drama school, so my knowledge has come from my Classical schooling (I have a Classics degree), working with one or two inspiring directors, and a lot of practical application!

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

I understand you are the founder of Bardolatry. Tell us all about it!

Bardolatry has two arms: 1. a Shakespeare reading group; and 2. a group of actors and emerging directors who meet to experiment with the performance of verse drama. In brief!

Editor’s Note: The term bardolatry is defined as “the worship”, especially if considered excessive, of William Shakespeare. What a great name for a group of Shakespeare enthusiasts!

It is my understanding that you are in process of writing a book in partnership with theater director Philip Wilson entitled Dramatic Adventures in Rhetoric: A Guide for Actors, Directors and Playwrights. The title of the work is self-evident, but what is your motivation in committing your expertise to the written page?

Philip Wilson, Theatre Director

Philip Wilson, Theater Director

We recognised that no-one has written about how omnipresent rhetoric is in the field of drama. It is after all, how we all communicate every day, not just the preserve of politicians and the ancient Greeks. The more we looked into it, the more overwhelmed we were by how useful it was to examine theatrical texts in this way.

Are there any exciting new projects you would like to share with QAB members and browsers?

None, as yet. It’s tough being in the wrong country when things are casting. You can’t audition for them. I will return to more Shakespeare teaching… and possibly moving house!

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QueenAnneBoleyn.com extends our heartfelt appreciation to Giles Taylor for taking time out of his exhaustive schedule to participate in this comprehensive interview. We extend our best wishes to Giles and the rest of the talented cast and crew of Wolf Hall, Plays One and Two. “Break a leg” with your remaining performances and best wishes at the Tony Awards!

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Editor’s Note: To learn more about the remarkable Giles Taylor, enjoy his wonderful interview with The Acting Network!

Video Credit: The Acting Network

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WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL, PARTS ONE & TWO, featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater on March 20th and will run through July 5th.

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AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

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Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

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Thomas Cromwell’s Austin Friars (Tribute to Hilary Mantel and WOLF HALL)

April 6, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

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Austin Friars today, Austin Friars (Photo by Eric in the Londonist Flickr pool.)

Austin Friars today, Broad St., London 
(Photo by Eric in the Londonist Flickr pool.)

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Through the brilliant fiction of twice Man Booker Prize honored Hilary Mantel in Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, not only has Thomas Cromwell made a stunning resurgence in both respect and popularity, but so have the locales that he frequented, most notably his home alongside the Augustinian Friary, London. Located against the gates of the Priory at Austin Friars of Broad St., in 1522, Thomas Cromwell and his young family moved into two Throgmortan St. tenements leased from his pious Roman Catholic neighbors. Over the ensuing 10 years, Thomas Cromwell demolished the two tenements and built a “very large and spacious” home in their place, signing the then typical “99 year lease” with the Augustinians.

Although Thomas Cromwell’s London home and ultimate mansion is now located at the current site of the hall of the Drapers’ Company on Throgmortan St., back in the 1530’s, an affluent neighborhood surrounded him, with other leased tenements home to wealthy Italian merchants, Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, and even Desiderius Erasmus, who eventually moved out without paying his rent. One can easily assume that when the Augustinian Friars originally signed on the “dotted line” with the young and ambitious cloth merchant, banker and lawyer they met in the early 1520’s, they had no idea how he would later impact their lives and those of his neighbors.

Austin Friars Church, later becoming the The oldest Dutch foundation in the world, was tragically destroyed on 15–16 October 1940 during the London Blitz of World War II.

Austin Friars Church, later becoming the oldest Dutch foundation in the world, was tragically destroyed on 15–16 October 1940 during the London Blitz of World War II.

Austin Friars was founded long before the turbulent reign of King Henry VIII, most likely established by the Augustinians in 1260. Originally Austin Friars was constructed upon land once home to St. Olave’s Parish, with a second church, St. Peter the Poor being incorporated into the friary grounds. Home to sixty friars, the Augustinian Friary of London was sited on over 5 ½ acres of land. With a church built in the middle of the property, several buildings were located behind to accommodate the friars and visiting religious scholars. The friars farmed an extensive gardening area, cultivating vegetables, fruit and medicinal herbs. In essence, Austin Friars was its own independent religious community surrounded by the city of London.

Over the course of the next 300 years, the Augustinian Friary of London incrementally developed into one of the city’s most highly regarded religious orders by the wealthy and powerful both as place of worship and burial site. Known for the Augustinians’ outstanding educational endeavors, Austin Friars became highly regarded for religious education, preparing many boys of London’s elite classes for advanced theology educations at Oxford, and later also Cambridge. Buried on the grounds of Austin Friars include several high ranking members of the aristocracy, including men such as Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Surrey; John de Vere, 12th Earl of Oxford; Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, and many of the highest ranking knights killed at the Battle of Barnet, April 1471.

Once Thomas Cromwell was well established as an agent and privy counselor to King Henry VIII, he actively induced and subsequently suborned the Prior of Austin Friars, Father George Brown. From that point further, things began to take a tragic turn for the Augustinians. An agent of Cromwell, Prior Brown’s Easter sermon at Austin Friars urged the congregation to pray for Queen Anne Boleyn, leading all listening to quietly leave in civil disobedience. Undaunted, Father Brown continued his work on behalf of Cromwell’s evangelical agenda. He was eventually rewarded by being chosen as one of the commissioners appointed to inspect the friaries, monasteries and priories of England and Wales in the surge of “visitations” that quickly graduated to the dissolution of all religious houses throughout the realm.

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

As Thomas Cromwell continued to rise in favor of King Henry VIII, becoming Chief Secretary, Vice-gerent, Lord Privy Seal, Knight of the Garter, Lord Chamberlain and ultimately 1st Earl of Essex, he desired a London mansion conveniently located near Greenwich Palace, Westminster and the Tower of London. Thus, his home at Austin Friars grew far beyond the original building constructed in order to meet his changing needs and status. Cromwell’s mansion was in a constant state of expansion and improvement, providing him with not only a family home and elaborate locale for lavish entertaining of his powerful friends, lords and ladies of King Henry VIII’s Court and presumably the king himself, but also a base for his business operations in accomplishing the king’s bidding. His properties, expansive and elaborate in detail, were surrounded by lush gardens, fruit trees and walling to afford privacy.

In accomplishing his goal of building a luxurious city mansion, Thomas Cromwell became quite problematic, not only to his abutting Augustinian Friars, but to his neighbors, as well. The son of one of his neighbors, John Stowe frustratingly shared the following:

“My father had a garden there and a (rented) house standing close to his south pale. This house they loosed from the ground and bore upon rollers into my father’s garden, twenty two feet.
      Ere my father heard thereof, no warning was given him, nor other answer, when he spoke to the surveyors of that work, but that their master, Sir Thomas, commanded them to do so.”

Alas, the “every man hero” of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, Thomas Cromwell, second in power at his apex only to King Henry VIII himself, became the “neighbor from hell”, grabbing land from all his neighbors and focusing his attention and eventual wrath towards the Augustinians of Austin Friars.

In 1534, an “anonymous informant”, likely a bribed friar, “spilled the beans”. There was trouble afoot at the Augustinian Friary of London. According to a poorly articulated correspondence, it was alleged that masses were being rushed and neglected while the friars were drinking in the beer house in “bad company”. As the story was told, Cromwell’s neighboring Roman Catholic friars, like “visitors” alleged of many throughout the realm, were violating all monastic rules, there being more sin “than hell among devils”. To make matters all the worse, the “informant” professed the cloister and doors were unguarded, leaving “the Lombards dwelling with the gate to take their pleasure in conveying off the harlots.” Oh my!

Rebuilt after World War II, here is the chapel of Dutch Church, Austin Friars today.

Rebuilt after World War II, here is the chapel of Dutch Church, Austin Friars today.

The egregious allegations were ultimately judged to be “founded”. Consequently, the Augustinian Friary of London’s reputation was ruined, leading to the ultimate and inevitable surrender of Austin Friars. In 1538, heavily in debt, the once magnificent London center of worship and religious education was turned over to the crown by Prior Thomas Hamond and his 12 remaining brothers.

Two years later, Thomas Cromwell also fell, executed after falsely condemned via an act of attainder for sacramental heresy. His elaborate mansion, once far more modest tenements rented to provide a loving home his wife Elizabeth, son Gregory and daughters Anne and Grace, along with their extended family, also reverted to the royal household. Three years later, Cromwell’s grand city mansion was sold to and ultimately torn down by the Drapers’ Company, who over 400 years later, still owns the property where it once stood as testament to the ultimate success of arguably England’s most accomplished and powerful commoner.

RESOURCES:

Author Unidentified, Friaries: 27: The House of Austin Friars, British History Online.

Author Unidentified, Friaries: 14: The Austin Friars, British History Online.

Hutchinson, Robert, Thomas Cromwell, The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007.

Wikipedia, Austin Friars, London

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WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS on April 5, 2015 in the United States.

WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiered on PBS April 5, 2015 in the United States.

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WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL, PLAYS 1 & 2 featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

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AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

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Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

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Guest Writer: WHO IS THE REAL ANNE BOLEYN? by Phillipa Vincent-Connolly

February 21, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, Guest Writers, News by Beth von Staats

by Phillipa Vincent-Connolly

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Phillipa Vincent-Connolly with the protagonist of her "work in progress", Queen Anne Boleyn.

Phillipa Vincent-Connolly with the protagonist of her “work in progress”, TIMELESS FALCON.

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This is where my interest in history began, years ago, with Anne Boleyn and the dramatic story of her fall, reading the likes of Jean Plaidy, as a child. That interest in Anne in particular and history as a whole, has never diminished –I know that it is an interest shared by many: As a qualified historian, holding a degree in the subject from The Open University, having studied the Tudor era and WW1 and WW2, I am always intrigued by new theories on history in these windows in time. Having heard Hilary Mantel speak at my PGCE teaching training degree ceremony, and having read her books, seen both Wolf Hall and Bring up The Bodies on the final night, being able to see the whites of Ben Miles’ eyes as I sat in the front row at The Aldwych theatre in London, and now to be watching the televised series currently screening in the UK, I am astounded when I come across questions posed on social media, being so venomously spouted about a historical figure; and in particular Queen Anne Boleyn.

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Ben Miles and Lydia Leonard star as Thomas Cromwell and Queen Anne Boleyn in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s plays WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES, premiering on Broadway, New York City on March 25th, 2015. (Photo Credit: Donald Cooper)

Ben Miles and Lydia Leonard star as Thomas Cromwell and Queen Anne Boleyn in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s plays WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES, premiering on Broadway, New York City on March 25th, 2015. (Photo Credit: Donald Cooper)

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Viewers of the Wolf Hall series may seem to think that Anne Boleyn comes over as a bitch from hell in Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel has said that she is writing and portraying Anne’s character as she thinks Cromwell may have seen her. Some lovers of history say that Anne was ‘evil’. What strikes me is how can people be so insulting to a human being from the past, to whom so little evidence exists without bias being present in such sources? None of us knows what Anne was really like. All we can argue is what the contemporary accounts said of her and deduce our conclusions from there – so long as we refer to original sources. Anne is not above criticism; neither are figures such as Cromwell, Thomas More, or even King Henry himself. Yet, Anne seems to come off far worse than any other Tudor figure, when featured in fictional drama or novels.

No one ever suggests she was particularly religious or pious, when looking at sources; Anne was quite an advocate of reform and the new teachings of Tyndale. Her brother, George Boleyn, a staunch supporter of reform, had a good relationship with his second sister, so Anne could have been easily influenced by books, tracks and pamphlets, which he may have brought her back from court, and her father would have kept Anne up to date on religious matters in Europe, as he wanted all his children to be well educated. I believe, from study, that Anne was a very intelligent, religious and pious young woman, who in many ways put God first in her life. Her ambition was the same ambition of most Tudor women of her time; to have an advantageous marriage, to have male children and to serve her family and the wishes of her husband to be. Is it her fault that she attracted the eye of a king? No. It is not a surprise that the king would have been so attracted to such an accomplished woman as Anne, and like a pendulum; Henry would swing this way and that from the opposite kind of character to his first wife, Queen Katherine.

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Claire Foy portrays Queen Anne Boleyn in BBC's WOLF HALL. (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

Claire Foy portrays Queen Anne Boleyn in BBC’s WOLF HALL.
(Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

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Period drama, loosely based on history, is an excellent way to encourage an interest in the subject and I am all for televised series and plays such as Wolf Hall and Bring up The Bodies, but let’s not forget, it is fiction. Unless we have a time-machine there is no way, we can truly see what these figures were like in real life and have an informed opinion of them. In any case, even if we were there to observe the court as Chapuys did, we would be viewing people and events based on our own life experiences and viewpoints. If you were a Catholic, then you would view Anne unfavourably as usurper; if you were a reader of Tyndale, then, no doubt, you perhaps would have supported the King being made The Head of The Church in England and would be behind Anne Boleyn becoming Queen. The sort of comments being made about Anne on social media, reminds me of a time in twenty-first century media, when the UK discovered that Prince Charles in fact, loved Camilla Parker-Bowles and not his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales. History repeats itself and the media venomously attacked Camilla for being the other woman, just as Tudor Society attacked Anne during her time, for similar reasons. Nevertheless, why does Jane Seymour or any subsequent wife get off scot-free? Catherine Howard usurped Anne of Cleves, but Catherine does not get much dissension for it.

Anne continues to evoke such feelings that she was vindictive and haughty.

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Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn
Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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Anne was a product of her time. A woman in a man’s world; a manipulative world at that and she needed to remain sharp, strong and determined. After all, she had done what no other woman had ever done before, and that was to make a king determined to remove a real queen and put her in Katherine’s place. I do not think Anne had any idea to the heights that Henry was to raise her. None of his other queens ever had titles in their own right or had sumptuous coronations, as Anne had. No woman ever enraptured Henry like Anne did; writing seventeen letters to her promising to do all for her, everything that was in his power to do. Anne Boleyn resisted for so long, not to vex or tease him, but because she wanted what was right before God; a lawful marriage, bearing legitimate heirs for the man she loved and adored and who loved her back, just as equally. Anne was probably frustrated by the long wait and the procrastination from Rome, just as much as Henry, but her desire to do what was right was the stronger pull. It was not just about position and a crown but honour, which was an important concept in Tudor England.

Anne had to be harsh and sharp-tongued at times to maintain her position. Many factions swam around her like sharks always waiting for an opportunity to see her fail. The trouble is, many people view Anne through twenty-first century eyes, taking each fictionalised drama of Anne as fact. Yes, Anne was harsh but she also gave more to charity in one year than Katherine of Aragon did throughout her whole reign and was a huge church reformer. We forget that everyone from history existed and was human and alive at some point and when we look back, we need to judge in the context of that time not ours.

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Lydia Leonard and Anne Boleyn Photo Credit: Hooper

Lydia Leonard and Anne Boleyn
Photo Credit: Hooper

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In my opinion, Anne Boleyn was not evil, as there is no evidence to suggest she cheated on Henry, slept with her brother, or had a malformed baby. Even Chapuys, who openly hated her, said she had had a beautiful son of no more than 3 months. The problem lies in the fact that there is so much fiction about Anne Boleyn that they confuse the fiction with fact.

Even the most learned historians have a more balanced view of Anne and find her a fascinating subject to study – it is just a shame that so little evidence on Anne survives for us to get a well-rounded view of her. I think we should be showing Queen Anne a little more tolerance as during her lifetime as everyone at court was extremely ambitious, and not only ambitious, but also greedy. Even Jane Seymour, who is always portrayed as the saintly angelical wife, did not care to give her honour for the King, and her family did not care either as long as she would be queen. Catherine Howard’s family was just as equally ambitious as the Seymour’s, yet little is often said that Thomas Boleyn and Anne’s uncle the Duke of Norfolk were against the match with the king. This was a marriage of love on Anne’s part; not pure ambition.

I am in the middle of writing a novel on Anne, based on actual events, based largely on original sources, and that the conclusions in it are my own, through reaching them objectively after reading the various theories, attending talks by prominent historians, such as Dr David Starkey, Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and Alison Weir, amongst others. This might sound like a statement of the obvious, but in some aspects my conclusions coincide with others and I wholeheartedly agree with my learned friend Alison Weir, that Anne’s downfall and demise was clearly judicial murder, orchestrated by Thomas Cromwell.

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This portrait, "Anna Bullen" After the style of Holbein, is located at Hever Castle, Kent. It is the portrait used as the hallmark of Queenanneboleyn.com.

This portrait, “Anna Bullen” After the style of Holbein, is located at Hever Castle, Kent. It is the portrait used as the hallmark of Queenanneboleyn.com.

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When visiting places of historical interest to Anne, I have always wandered around looking at paintings, tracing my fingers over the oak paneling and stone fireplaces wishing I could be absorbed into them and observe history as it happened. You can see it, imagine it all happening, perhaps catch a trace of those long-unheard voices, and sense their deepest sentiments even. Primary sources are fantastic, and as historians, apart from visiting sites of historical interest, analysing these sources are the closest we will get to remove the veil between these historical personalities and events in order to conclude anything, which remotely resembles any truth. Many conclusions can be reached from these sources based on the readers’ opinion and interpretation. As a teaching assistant a few years ago, I remember the history teacher I use to work with, suggest to his GCSE students that, ‘You can never be wrong in history, so long as you have a watertight argument with sources to back up your argument.’ Isn’t this what history is about? To research sources and draw your own conclusions, not come to conclusions and find sources that will match them.

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Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn and Damien Lewis and Henry VIII in BBC's WOLF HALL Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn and Damien Lewis and Henry VIII in BBC’s WOLF HALL
Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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Above all, my book, Timeless Falcon is a labour of love, as well as an exciting retelling of Anne’s story, as close to the truth of who I believe Anne to have been. Dr David Starkey has given me some interesting insights into Anne, Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb has delivered thought provoking talks on Henry VIII, and how 1536, changed him. However, we must learn to weigh up sources and continue to study them to get to even an ounce of truth on what Anne may have really been like.

So, I think from now on, it is better that I just observe, and never comment on such threads and allow others to make up their own minds, I just wish they would consider the sources and not take fiction literally. After all, fiction is written and filmed for entertainment purposes! It is weird that in the UK, the media and society are so very quick to bring a successful person down and slander them and it was the same throughout history and will no doubt continue to be so. All I know is that Anne has almost eclipsed Henry, in being one of the most talked about Tudors in history and I think that Anne would have liked that fact, that she has made such a remarkable imprint on our history.

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Phillipa Vincent-Connelly

Phillipa Vincent-Connelly

Phillipa Vincent-Connolly, an independent author and historian, graduated from The Open University with a BA and is now a qualified teacher of history and fashion. She is a single mum of two, living on the south coast in Broadstone, near Wimborne Dorset. In a previous life, Phillipa was a nail technician with her own nail salon & educator for Entity Beauty. Phillipa, well known fondly to many in the “Tudor Community” is currently writing a novel about Anne Boleyn entitled Timeless Falcon. Her debut novel, Miracle, tells the heroic story of  Orianna Stewart, a talented teenager coping with unique challenges. 

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Miracle

TO PURCHASE MIRACLE, CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

Miracle

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QAB Book Review: WOLF HALL, by Hilary Mantel

January 22, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, News, QAB Book Reviews by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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wolf hall book cover

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by Cyndi Williamson

With all the hype surrounding the premier of BBC’s Wolf Hall mini-series, I decided some attention needed to be placed upon the first novel written by Hilary Mantel. After all, it was the driving force for all that came after. Without the original Wolf Hall, there would be no Bring Up the Bodies, no repeat Man Booker Prizes, no plays, no mini-series, no Damien Lewis in tights, and no portrait of Hilary Mantel hanging in the British Library.

When people ask me which is my favorite Tudor novel, my answer is always the same, Wolf Hall. The story is a familiar one, with the usual cast of characters, but Hilary Mantel has done something outstanding. She has made all of the old faces new again, by changing the perspective in which we see them. The story is seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, the usual villain of Tudor lore. Mantel has created him as her protagonist, and given her readers the opportunity to see him in a much more human capacity.

Wolf Hall takes you from Cromwell’s humble beginnings, being abused by his father in an ale yard, through his service to Cardinal Wolsey, and on to his rise in the court of Henry VIII. Mantel never lets us forget Cromwell’s low birth, and she is careful to keep his admiration for his mentor, Wolsey, always in mind.  Her Thomas Cromwell is a husband, father, brother, servant, mentor, and friend. Her Thomas Cromwell is a self-taught man, a genius, and hard worker. Her Cromwell is like no other that I have ever encompassed — and I liked him.

The people and events in King Henry VIII’s court take on different personas seen through Cromwell’s eyes, and they evolve with Cromwell as his situations and experiences change. We see the people he loves and the people he hates very clearly, as Cromwell does not afford respect nor affection to those he does not love. From his perpetual antagonism for Stephen Gardiner to his devotion to his children, we can feel his animosity, or smile as he bemoans his son’s atrocious Latin . When Cromwell is haunted by the memory of his daughter, we can see her tiny hand turning the page in a Book of Hours, and grieve with him.

Mantel’s descriptions of her characters are very detailed, as Cromwell was a detail oriented man. Her scenes are set in a manner that shows the very cost, the weight, and the detail of a gown, a carpet, or even a candle. As Cromwell measures the luxury or lack in a thing, the reader can see it, feel it, and smell it. For example, when Cromwell is mired in at Calais with the king and court, waiting for good weather to sail, one can  feel the oppression of the chilly rain, which contrasts sharply with the lush furs worn by Mary Boleyn.

The prose in Wolf Hall is astounding. Cromwell has just the right turn of phrase, the descriptions are vivid, and the words lend themselves easily to the imagination of the reader. This novel richly deserved its awards, as Mantel paints pictures with words, and even if you know the story, it is fresh and enticing. For example, Thomas More’s resignation as Chancellor looks different, when viewed from a window with Cromwell and Anne.

Mantel spent as much attention to the historical accuracy of this novel as she did the brilliant prose.  While some might take issue with the portrayal of their favorite Tudor character, it is seen through the eyes of Cromwell, and where the thoughts and daily conversations are fiction, the events and places are spot on. There were many places in the novel that I decided to further explore the history of some of the lesser known figures, and double check what I thought I knew about the period. That is crucial to me in a historical novel. Mantel tells us a story, and makes us want more.

As Wolf Hall drew to a close after the execution of Thomas More, which is poignantly underplayed, I found myself experiencing a myriad of emotion. I turned back to the first page and started my journey with Cromwell again.

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WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS on April 5, 2015 in the United States.

WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS beginning April 5, 2015 in the United States.

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WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles both premier on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

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AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

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Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

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QAB Interview: Catherine Fletcher, Ph.D, Historian

January 21, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, News, QAB Guest Interviews and Chats, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

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Professor Catherine Fletcher

Professor Catherine Fletcher

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ABOUT CATHERINE FLETCHER, Ph.D

Catherine Fletcher, Ph.D is a historian specializing in the history of the Renaissance and early modern Europe. She is a Lecturer in Public History at the University of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Professor Fletcher is an expert in Renaissance and early modern diplomacy, particularly European “permanent resident” papal diplomacy in Rome, Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. From her extensive research, Professor Fletcher completed a microhistorical study of Gregorio Casali, an Italian nobleman in the diplomatic service of Henry VIII of England, culminating in her premier historical biography, Our Man in Rome, Henry VIII and His Italian Ambassador. Beyond Professor Fletcher’s research specific to 15th and 16th century diplomacy, she is extensively researching the Public Histories of the Renaissance. She is currently composing a comprehensive biography of Alessandro de’ Medici to be published by Bodley Head.

Professor Fletcher’s most recent work included providing historical consultation to the British Broadcasting Company’s production of Wolf Hall, a six part mini-series that will premier on BBC2 tonight in the United Kingdom. Based on the Man Booker Prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies composed by highly acclaimed author Hilary Mantel, the mini-series focuses upon the life on Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex from his childhood through the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn. In the following interview, Professor Fletcher shares her experiences as a historical consultant to Wolf Hall and also shares fascinating insight into her ongoing research.

To learn more about historian Catherine Fletcher, Ph.D, visit her website at Catherine Fletcher.

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Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell
Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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Professor Fletcher, it must have been very exciting to work as a historical consultant for BBC2’s highly anticipated Wolf Hall mini-series based on the stellar novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, written by the highly acclaimed author Hilary Mantel. QAB’s first series of questions focus upon your work in the mini-series production.

1. What exactly was the role you played in insuring historical accuracy in the Wolf Hall mini-series?

“I worked with the art team on the show through the filming process between April and August last year. The set designer had already done a lot of research getting the look of the show right but I was on the end of a phone and taking emails to sort out the day-to-day queries that came up.”

2. Just how important was it really for producers to create a sense of historical time, place and atmosphere? Can you give us some examples of how the director and production staff accomplished their goals?

“Obviously Hilary Mantel had done a huge amount of research to inform the original novels, and I think everyone involved in the TV adaptation was keen to stay true to that as it shifted onto the screen. So they were consulting experts about everything from Latin pronunciation to music to etiquette. Even little details like the correct colour for an altar cloth would be checked.”

3. I would imagine that consulting to such an important project was a huge responsibility. Can you give us some examples of recommendations you made to accomplish accuracy in the production?

“Well strangely enough some of the time I found myself saying, ‘you know, we just don’t know this’. For example it is hard to find pictures from the period showing the interior of houses. We find them in the Netherlands and Italy but not so much in England. On the other hand there were things that I discovered as I went, like the correct shape for a Tudor coffin – keep an eye out for that!”

4. Did your responsibilities include insuring the writing of the screenplay was as true as possible to the novels? Or was this a responsibility taken on by Hilary Mantel?

“No, I came on board at the filming stage. The screenplay obviously had to be condensed a lot from the novels but that was already in place before I got involved.”

5. Can you share with us your favorite contribution to BBC2’s Wolf Hall?

“I’ll get back to you on that once I’ve seen the whole series! There’s one particular suggestion I really hope they took on board but I’m waiting to see how it looks on screen.”

Editor Note: To read more about Professor Fletcher’s experience as a consultant to the Wolf Hall mini-series, click the following links: 1. Adapting Wolf Hall for TV: How I Played Historical Guessing Game  2. ‘What did a Tudor coffin look like?’: the weird and wonderful world of a Wolf Hall adviser.

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Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence (Artist:  Jacopo Pontormo)

Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence
(Artist: Jacopo Pontormo)

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Professor Fletcher, QAB is fascinated by your research and expertise in the workings, influence and importance of diplomacy in early modern history. Our next series of questions will focus upon your research of early modern era diplomacy in general, your research specific to Gregorio Casali, King Henry VIII’s ambassador to Rome, and your outstanding premier biography, Our Man in Rome, Henry VIII and His Italian Ambassador. We will also touch upon your current research.

1. I would imagine given the influence of the papacy in the workings of early modern era European governments and cultures, that Rome was a huge epicenter of diplomatic activity. Professor Fletcher, can you share with us some highlights of your research surrounding European diplomacy in general at the papal courts in Rome, Italy in the 15th and early 16th centuries? Where did you find your contemporary sources? What was your favorite “previously unknown find’?

“Up until the middle of the nineteenth century, Italy was divided up into lots of small states. Diplomacy was vital to keeping the peace between them. Lots of rulers kept agents in Rome anyway to deal with church business and paperwork, so it wasn’t surprising that the papal court became a centre for other diplomacy too. The Italian archives are amazing places to work. A lot of the letters are still where the used to be – so the duke of Mantua’s archive is in Mantua, for Venetian documents you have to go to Venice – there’s a lot of travelling involved. But my favourite find was when I tracked down the descendants of Henry’s agent in Rome Gregorio Casali and discovered they still had sixteenth-century documents in their house!”

2. Just what types of tactics did diplomats of varying nations use to seek the favor of the Pope and his Cardinals to move their monarch’s agendas? Is it safe to say there were “indulgences” flowing?

“Henry VIII’s ambassadors were told to use ‘ready money and continual entertainment’ when they were lobbying for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. One of them is alleged to have slept with a courtesan to try and get information from her! There were certainly plenty of lavish gifts given – though of course one man’s ‘bribe’ was another man’s reasonable reward for services rendered.”

3. In your book Our Man in Rome, Henry VIII and His Italian Ambassador, you present a comprehensive biography of Gregorio Casali. Can you explain to browsers who exactly Gregorio Casali was and what his influence and importance was to the reign of King Henry VIII?

“Casali first came to England in the entourage of Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio (who of course was later papal legate in the divorce case). That was around 1518-19, and he was probably still a teenager. He obviously caught Wolsey’s eye – perhaps Henry’s too – because he started working as an agent supplying horses, hawks and hounds from Italy to the English court. In 1525 he was appointed English ambassador to Rome and must have thought it was a plum posting – little did he know that Henry’s scheme to marry Anne Boleyn was about to make it the job from hell!”

4. With the strong knowledge base most Tudorphiles have of Eustace Chapuys, why do you think there is so little known of Gregorio Casali?

“Well, obviously Chapuys was based in London writing about the detail of events at the Tudor court, so he’s an obvious source for the history of what’s going on in England. Casali was stuck in Rome, a long way from what was happening in England. He was trying his best to get Henry what he wanted but he wasn’t as close to the English action as Chapuys. But I think he’s a wonderful example of someone who accidentally got caught up in these great events of English history, while just trying to make a living for himself at the papal court.”

5. Somewhat related to Hilary Mantel’s influence upon the resurgence of interest in Thomas Cromwell, while you were researching throughout Rome and Italy, did you find any hints as to his life there, his meeting with Pope Leo X in 1517, or his connections with the Frescobaldis?

“Sadly not. I would bet on there being more to find about Cromwell somewhere in the Italian archives – but it would be a needle-in-a-haystack job!”

6. What happened to Gregorio Casali once King Henry VIII broke from Rome and established the Church of England? Did he remain in King Henry’s service?

“When Henry broke with Rome he recalled his ambassadors. Casali hoped to swap to a posting in Venice instead, but a scheme to make his brother English ambassador to Hungary went badly wrong. I don’t want to give away exactly what happens but suffice to say Thomas Cromwell does not come out of that particular story well.”

7. It is my understanding that your current research focuses upon the life of Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke and essentially ruler of Florence, Italy from 1530 to 1537. As an early modern history scholar what interested you in focusing your research on this particular historical figure? Will there be a biography of his life forthcoming?

“Alessandro was an illegitimate nephew of Pope Clement VII. Part of the reason that Clement was so reluctant to agree to Henry’s divorce was that he wanted the backing of Charles V (Catherine of Aragon’s nephew) to help the Medici back into power in Florence. So Alessandro is part of that story. But what’s also intriguing is that we think Alessandro’s mother – a servant in the Medici household – was mixed-race, of African descent. People often assume early modern Europe was all-white but that’s a long way from the truth. And quite apart from that Alessandro’s story is a wonderful bloody tale of family rivalry and revenge. I’m hoping the book will be out in 2016.”

8. Are there other research projects you are interested in sharing with QAB members and browsers?

“Alessandro was a great collector of handguns. They were a new technology in this period and I’m hoping to write more about early modern guns in a future project.”

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our man in rome

TO PURCHASE OUR MAN IN ROME, CLICK THE LINK BELOW!!

OUR MAN IN ROME, HENRY VIII AND HIS ITALIAN AMBASSADOR

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WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS on April 5, 2015 in the United States.

WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS beginning April 5, 2015 in the United States.

________________________________________________

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles both premier on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

________________________________________________

As Grapes Are Stomped To Wine… (Tribute to Hilary Mantel and WOLF HALL)

January 16, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Historical Fiction, The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Uk Court by Beth von Staats

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Elizabeth Cromwell

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“You may leave now.”

I turn, pulling the covers over me and close my eyes. I hear her rummaging to dress. Ten crowns neatly stacked sit on the bed stand, payment for her time and attention. She takes them, jingles the coins in her hand and replies seductively, “Do come again, Master Cromwell. Your talents lay far more than the Cardinal knows.”

“Just go, damn it.”

As the door slams shuts, my stomach churns. Why do I do this? I have a wife. My beloved Bess is loyal and true, pretty and soft, passionate and doting. Until a fortnight ago, she was my warm and caressing bed partner. Now on the road with James Edwards on route to visit the small monasteries to assess which ones we will close, the last two weeks I was banished to separate bed chambers at Austin Friars, a deserved punishment for straying once again from the mother of my children, the one woman in this world who truly loves me.

I toss and turn in the sheets. Sleep does not come easy, my mind swimming with thoughts of us, memories of our life together – and thoughts of her, her soft long and wavy brown hair, her curves so soft under the covers, her lilting voice, her gentle kiss, her perfect fit to me deep down inside, her reassuring words, and her steadfast devotion to our begotten. It’s no use. I rise from the hard bed, sweat pouring from the summer heat and my guilty conscience. I pour a goblet of wine, and drink it down fast, then another, and then another. The taste bitter, all I want is to dull my mind, dull the feelings, dull the pain. Numb is a good thing for a sinner, for the bastard I have become. No better than the man who spilled my seed and beat my mother until near dead before me, I crushed my wife down deep, beating her over and over again with my indiscretions, my infidelity, and my continual habit of making major life choices for us both with no regard to her happiness, with no regard to her opinions, with no regard to her well-grounded wisdom.

I retrieve a quill, ink and parchment and sit up to a side table, lighting two candles. My eyes are old and the wine settles in deep, so I squint up close and begin…

Dearest Elizabeth,

I beseech you to forgive me. I know I am but a scallywag, a cheat, a scoundrel and a sinner. I deserve you not, but I promise I will try. I promise with God’s help I will reform and treat you as the loving wife you are. I love you dearly, down deep to my soul. Please let me back in, as joined until death was our vow.

Your husband, Thomas

As I blow the ink dry, I feel tears well. Tears? The last time I felt tears, Walter kicked my mum in the stomach. Just a small lad, I cried hard, tears flowing. The bastard lifted me up, threw me into a wall, and bellowed, “Tears are for cowards. Cry no more or I will beat you into the ground — as grapes are stomped to wine.” I cried no more, ever.

As I rub my eyes and pull in quickly my composure, a loud knock hits the door and startles me upright, and then again.“Who ventures to my chamber so late? Do Tell.”

“Master Thomas, it is Ralph. I be here with Master James. Please do let us in.”

Ralph Sadlier? Oh My God, something is dead wrong for him to ride from Austin Friars. I rise, unlatch the door and let them in. James is as white as a spook, and Ralph flushed red. “Ralph, what is wrong that has you venture all the way to me? Are the girls alright? Gregory?”

“Sit down, Thomas. Please,” says James, as gentle as a pastor tends the bereft.

Enough of this. “Just tell me. Tell me, damn it.”

“Thomas, Ralph will tell you all just as soon as you sit down. Now please do sit, dear friend,” says James with a calm authority. Since when does he command me?

A little drunk, my mind swimming with dreaded possibilities, I do as told and sit. “Ralph, I beseech you tell me know why you came.”

My God, Ralph kneels before me, placing his hand on my knee. He breathes deep in, shoring himself for Go knows what. With this, I do same. Only the known be more torment than the unknown. “Master Thomas, the Mistress Elizabeth… she is… she is… gone.”

I look over at James. We tell each other all. He knows Elizabeth and I are estranged and why. “Ralph, where ever did she go? I beseech that you and Richard go find her. Do not tarry!” I pull the letter I left on the side table, now folded and wax sealed. “Give my Bess this letter, and plead she return to Austin Friars. Go now.”

“Thomas… Thomas, listen to him. Please man,” James pleads. He looks over to Ralph, nodding “Tell him all, and be clear about it this time, Ralph,” he says in a hushed tone.

“I am so sorry… so sorry, Master Thomas. Your wife… Mistress Elizabeth… on Wednesday morning, she rose sick with the sweat. By noon, she cried out for you, and then God cried out for her.” He begins tearing now, overcome. “She died quickly, Master Thomas.”

In shock, I find no words. I sit like a simpleton, mute, numb, stunned like a deer shot by arrow unawares. I feel my throat close tight as I push out the words I must. God help me. “Do the children know? Has anyone sent word to Cambridge for Gregory?”

“No Master Thomas, we await your wishes.”

I start wringing my hands to stop them from shaking. “I wish to ride home at first light. I wish to tell this horror to Grace and Anne myself.” God, how do I find the words to tell these two babes their mother is dead? “I wish Gregory be sent home forthwith with no mention as why.” My eyes burn as I hold the tears back once more, “And I wish I was with her, beside her, holding her, taken instead of her. I wish many things.”

“Thomas, I am sure Alice is with the girls and has told them nothing. You know my beloved wife. She will keep the girls diverted until you arrive. Do try and get some sleep, my friend. I will ready the horses and wake you before the birds call, and we will go home – together,” James says reassuringly. He be my best friend, my only friend in truth.

James looks over to Ralph, now standing, hands trembling and beside himself. “Ralph, please get word to His Eminence.” Ralph nods. He then walks over to me and places his hands on my shoulders as an attempt to comfort. Wanting nothing of it, I shakes them off.

“Do you wish for James or me to stay with you this night, Master Thomas?”

Dear Ralph, he really is more a son than ward. “No… no, thank you. I desire to be left alone. Go now, I beseech you.”

Both men look back at me, now both ashen gray. They bow respectfully, Ralph crossing himself for good measure. Quietly, they retreat. Alone with my thoughts, I stare at the letter I wrote to my Bess. God is punishing me. I richly deserve it. I will never see my beloved wife again. She resides in heaven, and I will travel straight to hell. The scriptures do prove there is no purgatory, no chance at redemption, no paid miracles Gregory or the girls can bequeath in my name to save my soul.

I set the letter ablaze with the candle light and stare as it burns before me. In the flame I see her. My Elizabeth stands in her wedding dress… in her child bed holding our first born Gregory, smiling with pride… in her Sunday best at services, kneeling in prayer… in her joyful glory, bending down to hug our daughters, both tugging at her feet… in my arms, sleeping gently against my chest after coming together, two as one.

The flickering flame, the stench of the burning parchment, kicks me hard in the stomach, harder than the old drunken bastard in a rage. Walter dead, and with no one to see it, I cry freely, raking sobs for Bess and for all not healed before, beat to the ground — as grapes are stomped to wine.

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WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS on April 5, 2015 in the United States.

WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS beginning April 5, 2015 in the United States.

____________________________________________________

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles both premier on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

____________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

____________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

____________________________________________________

“Finish It! Damn Her! Finish It!” (Tribute to Hilary Mantel & WOLF HALL)

January 14, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Hilary Mantel, Historical Fiction, The Final Days of Queen Anne Boleyn, The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Dynasty Historical Writers by Beth von Staats

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Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

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The Palace of Placentia, Greenwich: April 18, 1536
POV: Thomas Cromwell

Where he be then? Where is Chapuys? Both Ralph Sadlier and I are a’ waiting yet again. What else is new? Me thinks the Spanish worry of time not, as the dead dowager princess did same. Though Chapuys is not a Spaniard born, he takes of them… always meddling in the realm’s affairs as England be in his purse. Never the mind, I have far bigger worries. The Queen, I be in the way to her scheming purposes. Damn her! Me thinks I shall be meeting God soon, His son and Lord sitting beside Him. My humors again unsettled with the thought of her, my mind swirling with ominous possibilities, I rise, anger consuming me.

“She wants me dead! Ralph, in front of His Majesty and the entire court that wench from Satan laid down the gauntlet!” I take a deep breath and begin to pace to and fro, to and fro, to and fro in a futile attempt to comport myself. The Queen of England has finally done it. She has me irate, as irate as the King on his worst day since the joust fall, as irate as a penned swine.

“Aye, Master Secretary! Like our beloved Cardinal Wolsey and the heretic Thomas More before you, Queen Anne is intent to see you fall. Lest we forget, she threatened to have your head a’smitten, rolling on the straw at Tower Hill. Now her almoner declared the same back a fortnight, the court aghast with his boldness. Me thinks mayhaps you still have the upper hand, eh? The babe be dead, praise God. His will be done.”

I look about my office here at Greenwich, my parchments neatly piled in organized confusion. The scriveners all enjoying their well deserved day of rest, we can finally speak freely until Chapuys arrives, alone but for the fleas and mice. I look over to dear Ralph Sadlier, once my ward and now my most trusted servant and friend. “I am not so sure, truth be told good man,” I admit. “This day Queen Anne was finally acknowledged by the Imperial Ambassador, a spectacle orchestrated at Sunday Mass clearly by Lord Rochford, mayhaps His Majesty. She has the king’s ear, and worse yet for us, mayhaps his cod.”

Dear Ralph looks back at me, the worry sketched clearly upon his face. He turns away to avoid my glance. “Does His Majesty know of the court gossip about the babe? About the Queen’s own words of the king’s virility?” I nod back, waving my hand. No, I have yet lay this on the king’s door. The time, it must be perfect, perfect.

“Mayhaps the time be now, Master Secretary. Wait too long, and the moment will be lost forevermore, you in The Tower, and the wench spinning her web.”

“Aye, but if the timing be wrong, my head rolls just the same lad. O Lord help me. Tell me the way to be rid of this shrill of a woman, I pray.”

Both Ralph and I hear rustling outside the office door. He holds a finger to his lips to hush me. I wave my hand to him, Ralph rising from his chair on cue. He unlatches and opens the door just a smidgen. There before him be one of His Majesty’s pages, all a’fret to come to the likes of me. He smiles broadly to relax the child. “Master Sadlier, His Majesty has an urgent message for Master Secretary!”

“Oh he does now, lad. Do give me the message, and I will insure Master Cromwell receives it.”

Now the poor boy looks aghast. “No… no.. His Majesty said I must give the message to Master Secretary, no one else,” the poor boys says, his voice a’quiver.

“Do come in then. Do come in,” I speak out in good cheer. The poor lad creaks open the doors and tentatively enters.

“Come in then, lad. I don’t bite, though I snarl from time to time.” This court is a hell’s den, rumor painting me a monster to the boy. “Good tidings, dear lad. You do His Majesty honor.” I hold out my hand and accept the wax sealed parchment, his hand slightly trembling.

“Now be off with you!” With that off the lad scampers, his mission accomplished.

I open the message, the door again now closed. My curiosity peaked, I snicker. O Lord, I thank thee. You work your wonders quickly.

“And? What does he want? What does he want?”

“Oh Ralph, His Majesty commands I meet him at Greyfriars. Imagine that. Me thinks the tide may be rolling in my way. Do you make same?”

“Aye, yes. Praise God. The time be now, I feel it in all my being. Go.. go… go… go! I will stay here and await the Imperial Ambassador. If he makes his presence known before you return, Italian Chianti will pour in abundance.”

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Damien Lewis as King Henry VIII (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

Damien Lewis as King Henry VIII (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

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Greyfriars, Greenwich: April 18, 1536
POV: King Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell

 

King Henry VIII

Memories of Greyfriars swim through my mind. It was here that I married Katherine and here that my children were christened. These walls have witnessed joy and triumph, betrayal and treason. I sought to cozen these monks, keep them loyal. My father endowed this place. The beautiful glass is his, but they failed to keep faith with me. They betrayed a sacred trust. Now, I am confounded by yet another cleric, another man of God who would use his place to chasten me, preferring a queen to his king. John Skip, the queen’s almoner, stood at his pulpit and told the tale of Ahasuerus, with his evil councilor Haman, and his queen, Esther. All of the court heard how a foolish king is easily misled by his corrupt servant, who threatens his mild and honorable wife. While no one would meet my eye, the meaning was plain. All understood.

Would that my queen were as mild and noble as Esther, as pure of heart, and as innocent. She has failed to fulfill her promise to give me a son, and now she thinks to correct and instruct me, before the court, before God. She is no Esther, and I am no foolish king. I have cast aside both friend and family for Anne. I have laid all at her feet. Her rages wear on me, and each day that passes is anguish. After 27 years, all I have to show is two daughters, and a churchyard full of dead babies. My mother’s family has shown me that a weak succession is doomed to fail, and my own time in sanctuary as a child has proved that treachery can come at any moment.

A sound rouses me from my reverie, “Ah, Cromwell. Come, come. Tell me sir, am I Ahasuerus?”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

I bow in deference, removing my cap. “Are you Ahasuerus, Your Grace?” I pause and decide to speak plainly. “If you forgive my frankness, I was offended by the inference. As if a King as magnificent as you could be ruled by a base born man who owes you all! Please forgive my anger, Majesty. Both your honor and mine were sullied. I be no Haman! My bidding is for you and you alone. I have already written to the Archbishop. Father Skip needs to be reigned in and broken like a yearling colt.”

His Majesty smiles, my words obviously pleasing. “Shall we geld him?”

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King Henry VIII

Cromwell’s words are designed to sooth, to flatter. I snicker at his jest. No fool, he has carefully stepped around the matter. “Do you think Skip so bold a man as to make this allegory on his own? Do you not see Queen Esther’s hand in this?” My temper is rising as I speak, and my voice with it, “Do you believe that the Queen had naught to do with this sermon?”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

King Henry, he is baiting me. I will take it, but not quite yet. Let the finger at Queen Anne be pointed by him. “Aye, Majesty. After all, he be the Queen’s almoner. Me thinks he forgets who reigns, the king or the consort.” I scratch my chin as in thought. “At least the Imperial Ambassador is wise enough to finally defer to your will once cornered. Spain has now acknowledged your queen. Good show this morn’, Majesty.”

__________

King Henry VIII

“I’ve had enough of shows, Cromwell. ‘Tis time now for truth. What matter has brought you and your queen to this point? Truth now sir, for I shall know if you lie. You need not fear my anger, not when I ask you to speak freely.”

I watch his face carefully, this wily man. He and my wife were fast friends, and Cranmer with them. But now there is discord, and I must know why. The factions within my own court are always scheming, always plotting for advantage. My wife and her family are no different. Nay, they be at the heart of it. Were God to take me to my glory today, the realm would split asunder, as each faction staked their claim to power. The Emperor and France alike would seize opportunity to make England one of their possessions. After all I have done, it is not enough. Anne and I struck a bargain, a crown for a son. She wears the crown. I have no son.

__________

Thomas Cromwell

“Queen Anne desires my head smitten, Majesty. She believes your policies are mine. Take a look around Greyfriars here, all idols stripped, all relics burned. The queen believes this all my doing with no consultation or approval. She credits you not for the policies of the realm, and desires I go the way of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More — to my death by your will.”

__________

King Henry VIII

“Smitten you say? She does grow bold. Is my most beloved Queen now holding her court in the Star Chamber?” I rake my fingers through my hair in exasperation. “Never fear Master Cromwell. If the day indeed comes whence your head needs smiting, it shall be I who attends to it.”

This man has proved himself most loyal to me, and his advice most sound. I had not thought to find such as he in a blacksmith’s son, but in him there is both Wolsey’s cunning and More’s wisdom. I believe I can trust this man. “Cromwell, did you know that Katherine and I were married here? She is gone now sir, but you will remember she vexed me quite terribly, and for quite some time. She often blamed Wolsey for the things I did. I am not a king so easily led. Anne……the queen….she has become…….she has not……” my voice trails off as I consider what Anne became and what she cost me, “But come Cromwell, Matters of monks can not surely disturb you so badly. If there is more, I would hear it.”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

This be my chance. I swallow hard. “Umm… Majesty, it pains me to bring this to you. The Lady Worcester, she told Master Sadlier the boy babe of the Queen be of Satan himself, no arms no legs, his head huge and misshapen.”

The King looks back at me, his face reddening with pain, with rage. I decide to carry forward. Now not be the time for pleasantries. “The Lady also wagged her tongue to Sadlier that the Queen told her maids your cod fails to rise.”

Instinctively, I step back. I already took many a backhand from the king quite enough. “I thought this all the ramblings of a bitter woman. My spies do say the Lady Worcester is with-child by a man not her husband, but then Lord Borough told me same, his sources the midwifes to the babe and the bedchamber servant.”

I hold my hand to my chest and sigh. Though tell him I must, His Majesty needs this not. The realm needs a Tudor heir, not a dead babe of Satan.

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Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance (Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company)

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King Henry VIII

They are turning now, one against the other – Anne and her ladies, her Chamberlain, and Cromwell. Secrets kept from me for months are now laid bare. Oh, I heard the rumors, how not? But I gave no credence to them. I believed her. Always her. And if there is this, is there not more? My leg throbs in agony as I step closer to Cromwell. Will the damn thing never heal? “And do they name this man? This father?” I ask softly, “For surely her womb is cursed, as is her lying tongue.”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

My head be spinning… think… think, damn it! Who? Who lays in the web, easy to snare? Oh yes… oh yes, of course. “No Majesty, though the court musician… what be his name? Smithers? Lord Borough says the man boasts heartily his closeness to the Queen. And, Majesty… he now has fine clothes and his own livery. Who done paid for that? It baffles me.”

__________

King Henry VIII

My gut wrenches at the thought of being so deceived. A musician? Is there no one in this damnable court who does not play some part? Suddenly I remember my daughter Mary, my pearl. Long gone are the days when I could bask in the admiration and love of my daughter. A foot-soldier in the war twixt her mother and me. Mary will not bend, and nor shall I. Mary will never accept Anne as queen, and though my daughter is more blatant in her rebellion, she is not alone. Looking at faces in the stained glass, I arrange my face to feign uncaring.

“Cromwell, these things being said about Anne…” I will not call her queen, not now, “We must investigate. If there is evidence to clear her name, we will find it. If not, see Richard Sampson, Dean of Lichfield. He was most helpful in my last ….with Katherine. Consider the Duke of Suffolk your friend in these matters.” Charles will be smiling behind his hand when he hears all of this. “But you must be discreet Cromwell. The musician’s name is Smeaton. I am surprised you don’t know it. He was a servant of the Cardinal’s as well. Perhaps you might invite him to play at your home some night soon.”

The trouble with Katherine lasted for years. She went to her very grave without our matter truly settled. But between us, between Cromwell and me, there might be enough for Anne to agree to an annulment without the turmoil. The marriage is cursed, or if the stories be true, she is surely cursed by God in her wickedness. “You must not be seen,Thomas. You must not be heard asking questions.”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

“Majesty, I need to leave court for a few days… lay out a plan in my thoughts that insure the investigations are not seen coming. May I suggest you command it? The Imperial Ambassador awaits at my office. Perhaps we might come upon one another in a manner things be seen, but not heard but by him. Let the court make their own assumptions by what some see and his ever wagging tongue.”

I pause, and think this through. I not be feigning my contemplations this time. “Mayhaps I overstep the mark. Chapuys did acknowledge the Queen this morn’ at Mass, so I advocate a renewed Spanish alliance? Enraged, you set me straight in my ways. Sick at the thought of it all, I leave court. What say you?”

I take a deep breath, and rush to speak once more before the King can answer. “Pray tell allow me one more thought… Majesty you are most benevolent. I do fear, Your Grace, that an annulment after all you did to make the marriage, even breaking with Rome, be not enough. Mayhaps a nunnery in Italy? In a year on hence there will be none here.”

__________

King Henry VIII

Though Master Secretary takes a rougher course, it is often our destinations are the same. “The Imperial alliance, yes. Yes, that is the very thing. But Cromwell, not so much as to dissuade Chapuys. I intend to pursue this very alliance, and in this matter, I find Anne to be a hindrance, is it not so?”

The Boleyns, they must be brought low, too. Norfolk, he resents the lot of them. He will be no obstacle. I feel I am that great king, Arthur of Camelot. Betrayed by my heart, and I feel I needs must protect my honor and my realm against those with whom I had trusted all. “She urged me to act against the Cardinal, do you remember?”

Though one might not know it by his rough treatment of clerics, Cromwell loved his late master. “He failed me in my great matter, and caused me to doubt his loyalty. His end was… unfortunate.”

A thought, not quite finished, is forming in my mind. “If the matter can not be easily resolved, consider me King Arthur of legend. I am prepared to raise Excalibur against any who threaten my realm.”

__________

Thomas Cromwell

Excalibur? My God, I think he wants her head smitten. Dead? A reigning queen consort? Oh God no, the king will be the fool of Christendom, me with him. Or is he speaking of me? Mayhaps both?

“Aye Your Majesty. The Imperial Ambassador did make King Charles demands plain. He will speak of no alliances with us… do forgive me, these be his words not mine… while the whoring concubine lives.”

I bow in deference to the King’s command. “You will have your alliance with Spain… and your honor. I do promise your will be done.”

__________

King Henry VIII

“See that it is.” I wave him off dismissively, watching as he retreats into the shadows.

“Cromwell, like Haman you can be raised high and torn asunder! Finish it! Damn her! Finish it!”

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Writers:

King Henry VIII: Cyndi Williamson, Florida, USA

Thomas Cromwell: Beth von Staats, Massachusetts, USA

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WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 22, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS on April 5, 2015 in the United States.

WOLF HALL starring Mark Rylance premiers on BBC2 beginning January 21, 2015 in the United Kingdom and on PBS beginning April 5, 2015 in the United States.

____________________________________________________

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles will premiers on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring Ben Miles both premier on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 20, 2015.

____________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel is a highly acclaimed, award winning English historical fiction writer of novels and short stories. A two time Man Booker Prize Award honored author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, both novels featuring Thomas Cromwell as main character, Hilary Mantel is currently composing the final novel of her Tudor Era trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. 

Considered by many to be the world’s finest historical fiction author writing in the English language, Hilary Mantel’s first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985. Since then, Mantel’s exhaustive body of work includes a variety of stellar novels and short story compilations. Her commitment to and interest in composing compelling short stories greatly enhanced the genre’s popularity with readers and continued publishing viability.

Awards and prizes bestowed upon Hilary Mantel for extraordinary accomplishment in literature include the following: Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize 1987, Southern Arts Literature Prize 1990, The Cheltenham Prize 1990, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize 1990, Sunday Express Book of the Year 1992, Hawthornden Prize 1996, CBE 2006, Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) 2006, Costa Novel Award 2009, Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2009, National Book Critics’ Circle Award (US) 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) 2010, Walter Scott Prize 2010, and Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2012.

A portrait of Hilary Mantel, the creativity of Nick Lord, is on display at the British Library. She is the only living author to be bestowed such honor.

____________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

____________________________________________________

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