Long Live the Queen

June 30, 2015 in News, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Pregnant Anne

Word has reached Anne Boleyn’s court of the death of the Dowager Princess Katherine. Whilst Anne and her favourites celebrate Anne’s undisputed claim as the only crowned Queen of England, some of her Ladies-in-Waiting have mixed feelings, remembering the golden days of Katherine’s reign as queen.

Jane Seymour UK Z

I look up from my embroidering as a messenger practically runs to the queen to give his news. Queen Anne stands before her ladies as we look up curiously with an exultant air and states “The Princess Dowager is dead!” We all look Jane Seymourstunned as the queen hurries to join the king.

We all stare at each other in shock. Many of us served Katherine as Ladies-in-Waiting before she was put aside. My sister Elizabeth is looking just as stunned as I. I pull her to an alcove as chaos begins to break around us.

“Elizabeth, my heart breaks for the-” I look about and check myself- “the Dowager Princess. And the Lady Mary.” I try to blink back tears, empathy for the Spanish princess and her daughter is still frowned upon.

Elizabeth Seymour UK Z Q

Trying to keep my face composed, I looked into Jane’s eyes, and could see that she was blinking back tears.

”Jane, do not wear your emotions on your sleeve. There are many here who would be delighted to tell Queen Anne that you wept for the Dowager Princess. Do not give her any cause which she could use against you. She is alreadyElizabeth Seymour jealous of the notice which the king gives you. As long as she is with child, she holds the King’s attention.”

Taking Jane’s small hand in mine, I whisper to her. ”Jane, my dearest, we must wait till we are alone to speak of and mourn Queen Katherine. Remember to hide all of your true feelings from Queen Anne and her ladies. ” I kiss Jane’s forehead and try to soothe her.

Jane Parker UK Z Q

Long fingers pause in the midst of their dance, my needle poised just above the piece of material I am working on in my lap. I hear the news whispered, as does every woman in the room, my eyes glancing to my sister by law as she gleefully rises to her feet and dashes as fast as her thickening form will allow to her husband.

Katherine was dead… this would please both our King and Queen greatly I do not doubt… and George. He would be full of elation to learn that his sisters bane was finally gone. I hoped she would find peace. As much as my fortunes were tied now to the black eyed girl who claims my husband’s attention constantly, jane-parkerKatherine had been a kindly woman who deserved the peace she had so long been denied in this nest of vipers.

My compassion however is short lived, already mentally dissecting the dead woman’s estate to see what might come the way of my husband. I had not time to waste thought on the girl who would undoubtedly suffer so at the demise of her mother, nor on the grief already evident on the face of some of the ladies present. While there was advancement to be had, it must be seized, and while I may despise our queen with every fibre of my being, my support to her happiness would most certainly not go unnoticed.

Setting aside the needlework quietly, I move silent as a bat on the wing, through the shadows and after Anne. I would should make myself the one member of her household that no matter how distasteful my presence may be, would be the only one she could say reacted to this momentous news exactly as was expected of me.

Duchess Of Norfolk UK Z

My body stills as I watch almost from afar, my niece leaping to her feet, the news spoken in a whisper loud enough for all the room to hear sending a chill through my frame that I refuse to let show. Her black eyes immediately find duchess of Norfolkmy own emerald, triumph shining within their hateful depths as she sweeps from the room to her husband, leaving naught but rage and sorrow boiling within me until I fear I may burst with their suppression.

Katherine had been my Queen, my mistress and my friend for these many years past, her warmth and dignified majesty a shining example of royalty the world could both admire and love. An example that Anne would have done well to emulate rather than deride. Even through these last few dark years of her life, I had defied even the King himself to ensure that she knew that she was not forgotten, that there were some who still remained in this world of sense enough not to mind the brief rise of my nieces star. For that is all it would be, she will fall as hard and fast as she has climbed. For Katherine had borne her adversity with dignified grace and submitted her fate to the hands of the only authority she trusted implicitly. Her prayers and my own had sadly not been answered, but I knew that even God himself this day would weep for his good daughter Katherine and will one day, wreak his vengeance for the pain she had suffered upon the forsaken whore that dares to call herself Queen.

I instantly cross myself and dip my head, a murmured Latin prayer for my friend said without hesitation or attempt at concealment. Let them tattle, let them look, let them tell “Her Grace” of her wicked Aunts transgression. At this moment I care not. All that mattered was that one of the scant few shining lights in my dark world had gone out and I would mourn its loss in my own way.

My love and loyalty for Katherine was well known, the entire court well aware of the ever simmering resentment shared between myself and the harlot that presumes to wear the crown belonging rightfully to a woman who eclipsed her in every way possible. The sly eyes turning my way at this moment were testament to that. Yet these foolish simpering girls had not been raised as I, the perfect courtier in every sense, not one flicker of the emotion that flooded my being in a torrent of grief showing upon my pale visage. I would sit and continue to sew as though the news had been of no more import than the weather. My actions over passed as mundane in their treason as the singing of a lark. I would mourn Katherine properly in private, the darkness of my chambers the only witness to any more overt displays of my grief or concern. For now that she was gone, there would be none to challenge my foolish nieces wayward mind but the King… and I would pray for us all that he realised this sooner rather than later.

Mary Boleyn Z

I stare in amazement as Anne triumphantly shares the news, her eyes glittering – all that could make this complete is a son, then she and Henry have all that they ever wanted. She smiles at me, her head held high, Anne’s arrogance evident as she glides out the door, leaving her ladies in a fluster.

I gaze blankly at the door as it is shut firmly behind Anne. I am aware of the burst of noise around me as I struggle to process this news. We all served under Katherine who was good and kind and caring- Mary-Boleyn-mary-boelyn-32261555-1196-1920quite the opposite of my sister. My mind runs over my time at court, with Katherine the only constant in Henry’s dizzying world. I sigh. There is no turning back now, no where for Henry to run back to. England is at the mercy of Anne and Henry.

I break out of my musings, pushing away the sadness of England’s loss and look about. There is a lot of shell-shocked ladies around me, my eyes linger over the Seymour ladies. My eyes roll then narrow as I see Jane wipe away a tear – for goodness sake! Simpering woman. Her sister Elizabeth catches my eye and whispers urgently at her sister – to pull it together I hope.

I spy my sister-in-law Jane slip out the door in Anne’s trail. I can imagine my uncle and father would think Jane has the right idea. Whilst I am noting the reactions of Anne’s ladies, and to be truthful, delaying finding my triumphant family and getting back to the family business, George comes in. I am reminded of a flock of birds preening as the ladies rearrange themselves and flutter their eyes coquettishly at my brother who is taking stock of the scene and heads towards me.

George Boleyn, Lord Rochford

I have just heard the news the dowager princess Katherine is dead and I am delighted. No more will we have that wench in the shadows, ruining our families lives. Our place once again is safe and Anne pregnant with an heir. No doubt the sun is shining on us once more. Making my way into Anne’s chambers, I spot my sister Mary. Taking note of the scene in the room, I walk briskly towards her and past the ladies in waiting who seem just as happy as I am.

“Oh dear Mary, can you believe it? That old hen is finally dead and Anne can rest easy now that she does not have to be in Katherine’s shadow one second longer.” I say in a lowered tone as to not raise suspicion and leading her to George Boleyna quieter area of the room. I glance up as I see Anne beaming and slipping out of the room with a few of her ladies in waiting. I happen to notice Jane Seymour trying to hold back her tears and Elizabeth consoling her without trying to bring much attention. I scoff and turn back to Mary who looks less than happy about the news that has been delivered.

“What’s the matter dearest sister? Are you not happy Katherine is dead and there is no one to step in our way? Jane Seymour may hold the king’s attention for now but as soon as Anne has the boy, he will never think of that wench again!.” I say, trying to keep my voice down from the excitement

“Come now Mary. What say you about all of this? I can see it in your eyes.” Saying as I survey the room once more.

Mary Boleyn Z

I allow my musings to be swept away by George’s obvious delight at our family’s good fortune. I give my brother a wry smile and take his hand in mine.

“Fortune smiles upon Anne, George and I am truly glad as this was the last piece in Anne’s way.”

I gaze about at the mixed reactions from the different factions amongst the queen’s ladies-in-waiting. “But we are allowed to be sad George, Katherine cared for many of us for a long time.” I stand suddenly and narrow my eyes at a sob that escapes from one of the Seymour girls.

“Really Jane. The Princess Dowager was NOT the king’s wife, surely I must not need to remind you. Pull yourself together before the queen returns!”

Mary and GeorgeI return my attention to my brother who looks at me bemused and I smile. “We will return to our place, with the king in love with no one but Anne, no one to distract him,” I throw a dirty look at the Seymour ladies, Elizabeth defiantly stares back at me, “and Anne shall cement our position as first family with a son and we shall live happily ever after – even you George!”

My brother laughs and stands by me, both our stances are arrogant, as if we had already laid claim to the castle. I allow my voice to carry across the room. ” Brother, let us join our sister the queen, she will want her friends with her this night.”

George offers me his arm and we sweep out of the rooms. Onwards and upwards.

Permission From The King, UK Court

March 29, 2015 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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King Henry Tudor UK
Katherine is dying, they say. Master Secretary and the Spanish ambassador wait on the other side of the door, seeking entrance to see me. The revels of the court seem incongruous with this audience, and I consider turning them away. Would that Katherine had passed quickly and without notice, taking leave of this world for her glory without any action from me. But that is not Katherine’s way. I straighten my doublet and steel my reserve against whatever unreasonable demands Chapuys might ask of me. I finish my wine and nod to Norris. Let them in.

Crommie chain

I whisper, “Se il vous plaît laissez-moi parler jusqu’à ce que je pousse du coude son bras.

Chapuys nods in acknowledgment, and the page announces us.

henry waiting

King Henry Tudor Uk
The ambassador looks bereft, and I see in his approach that he doubts me. He is relying on my holiday cheer, or the stalwart shield of Master Cromwell to temper our conversation. But I well know what his designs are, he seeks to move me in a direction I shall not go. He may not discuss my daughter with me. I decide to play a game that has served me well in the past. “Ambassador! Master Cromwell!! Have you come to join in our holiday merriment? You are, of course, most welcome!” I clap Cromwell on the shoulder, God’s blood, is he made of iron? The ambassador makes his less than graceful bow, his gout can not be much helped by this weather. His discomfort is obvious. Well, holiday or no, I shall not make this easy. “Please, good friends, enjoy yourselves!” I make to turn from them as if I think that this is all.

king and crommie

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Bloody hell, where is His Grace when I do need him? The Archbishop with a simple word and prayer could move His Majesty right easy, but no… he be at Croydon bedding his Lutheran wife. Mine spies do say she be withchild yet again. Let this one live, I pray.

As the king greets us, diverting the Ambassador quite effectively I must admit, I smile broadly. Aye, I do love this man, though a devil maker he sometimes be… but there he blasted goes again, God help me. Aye, he be turning to make his get away.

“Your Majesty… oh yes, we both do enjoy the merriment of your blessed court.” On cue, both Chapuys and I bow deeply.

I pulled a golden flask from under my cloak. No, His Majesty will not get away so easy as he done thinks. “Majesty, do see here what the Imperial Ambassador received from his most recent delivery… a fine gold flask from the Holy Roman Emperor himself. Me thinks this be for you.”

I hold the flask out, its gilded gold glistening off the light of the candles. It sure be a fine flask indeed, the craftsmanship exquisite.

flask

King Henry Tudor Uk
A slow smile spreads across my face. A seasonal gift? More likely a bribe. “Please extend my thanks to Charles, Ambassador. ” Chapuys is almost to the point of tears, so I relent. “Is there anything I can do for you, or your master, in the spirit of the holiday?” I admire the flask, turning it back and forth in the light. “I have acquired a very fine Italian wine, from the Venetian ambassador. Will you join me?”

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
O Lord, may the Imperial Ambassador remember our plan, I do pray. Now not yet be the time to ask to visit the Dowager. His Majesty need be feeling merry from the Italian brandy sent to me by the Frescobaldis I done poured in the damn flask. Chapuys must ask for minor favor first, and present another gift… the ring I done paid many a crown for. I look to Chapuys and glare him damn dead, then nudge his arm. Speak now you damn dog and get it right!

chapuys

Eustace Chapuys Uk
I try my best to keep calm and seem at peace. When inside I feel anger at this King, for the harm he has done to the rightful Queen and princess. But if I am to see poor Queen Katherine before she dies I must keep calm and stay in this king good graces. I feel Cromwell’s eyes begging me to behave, for now I will try… “It is a pleasure to meet with you, your grace. I have present from my king.” I say with an almost genuine smile while handing his steward the gift. “I do hope it pleases you, your majesty.” I hope silently that this gift will allow me a favor….

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King Henry Tudor Uk
I admire the ring, it is indeed beautiful, and consider the unlikely pair before me. The Putney ox and the Imperial pony yoked together for the chore of bringing the King of England to heel. “You have my deepest gratitude, Ambassador! I am most lucky in my friendship with your master! Cromwell, can this be brandy in mine new flask? It is a fine vintage! We shall drink to the health of our good friend Charles!” I pour the brandy myself, and hand each of my visitors a fine Venetian crystal goblet. “May Charles enjoy the same good health, and good fortune, that I know he wishes me!” I raise my glass, inclining my head to the ambassador. Catching Cromwell in a very rare moment of distress, I chuckle,”Have you something in your throat, Master Secretary? Good heavens man, it appears you might choke.”

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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
His Majesty, the edge to his voice when he toasted the Holy Roman Emperor makes his meaning clear. Is he really intent on getting us invaded??? I look over at the Imperial Ambassador. His expression tells the story. This will not go well, not at all.

“Majesty, please forgive me… the brandy, it’s far stronger than a common man is used to.” I wave over to a page. “Be a good man, and bring me some ale, boy.” I pat his shoulder, “Off with you then.”

I quickly comport myself… “Your Majesty, do give us a moment. As you know the Dowager will meet her maker soon. Myne spies say she is fading quickly.”

There, yes I see it. This pains him. Quickly he smiles broadly, covering his true feelings, but yes, he is struggling. I’ll send word to Suffolk to pay him a visit. We all have our demons.

“The Holy Roman Emperor has a request, Majesty. He has asked that the Imperial Ambassador visit and arrange for last rites when the time comes. I sadly say, the time be now. May he count on your benevolence? I can send Sadleir along to insure nothing goes amiss.”

henry and katherine happy

 

King Henry Tudor Uk
I turn from them and look out the window at the falling snow. The brandy, I fear, has made me sentimental. I remember Katherine in her youth, beautiful, merry, and obedient. Can it be that she is dying? Can it be that she would leave this matter unresolved between us? She will leave without ever having submitted to me, encouraging our daughter in her stubbornness. She will leave me without the chance of reconciliation, without receiving the great benevolences I had planned for her, once she had returned to her obedience. She will leave me no way to honor her, even in death.

Without turning, I begin to set the conditions of this visit. “Ambassador, if I allow this, there are to be no messages passed, and no deathbed promises relating to the Lady Mary. If I grant you permission, you may not use this visit to subvert me in any way. Is that clear?” I can not appear willing to offer Katherine even this small kindness, lest Chapuys and his master think to push me further. No one must ever know my heart in this matter, not even Cromwell. “The Dowager Princess should use these last days to restore herself both to me and to God for the disobedience she has shown. I will brook no last show of rebellion.”

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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex
Before the Imperial Ambassador has a chance to respond, I nod my head in deference and quickly interject. “Majesty you are most benevolent. I will insure Ralph Sadleir is clear on your commands. Ambassador Chapuys will not be allowed alone with the Dowager, not for a moment.”

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King Henry Tudor Uk
Katherine should never have brought us here. She left me no choice in the matter of her arrangements. And yet here we are, she and I, our long and wearying contest nearly over. “Very well, Master Secretary. I would not deny Charles this small request. See that Master Sadleir is informed of the proper limits of this visit.” Never facing them, I continue,” Ambassador, long have you championed Katherine’s cause though it be moot. Perhaps now you might stop meddling in the affairs of my family. Master Cromwell will see to the arrangements necessary for your journey. God’s Speed.”

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Eustace Chapuys Uk
King Henry’s words hit me like a knife, as I try very hard to keep my anger in check. I pray that I can save Princess Mary from this same treatment. I keep a smile on and stay polite, for I know that my King could not take a political issues with King Henry. “ Thank you, Your Majesty. My King thanks you dearly for your generosity.”

Written by: King Henry VIII UK, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Eustace Chapuys, Imperial Abassador

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imageEustace Chapuys

The Death of a Queen

February 10, 2015 in News, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Kimbolton

The burden on Sir Edmund Bedingfield was more than he had expected. As Caretaker to the Dowager Princess of Wales, his job seemed more warden than anything. As Katherine of Aragon lay dying, Sir Edmund had done all he dared to make her comfortable, without angering his king. Now, as he bustled toward the gates of Kimbolton to investigate the source of the clamour the guards had advised him of, he had a decision to make. Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby, was Katherine’s oldest friend and she had travelled far on treacherous roads to see her former mistress. Bedingfield was to admit no one without a pass from the king, or Master Secretary Cromwell. The guards had informed him Lady Willoughby had suffered an accident of some sort below the walls of the castle, and Sir Edmund was a Knight of the Bath. No proper knight would leave a noble lady in distress, and his years with the Dowager Princess had left him somewhat fond of his dying charge. As the gates opened, Sir Edmund did what he thought best, and only prayed the king would not be too angry.

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

I am perched against the outer walls of the castle Kimbolton with my travelling party, fury building at my rightful queen trapped, in pain and Maria de Salinas   alone in this desolate part of the country. I push the indignation aside and ensure my  travelling companions are ready to play their part as Sir Edmund Bedinfield finally  emerges from the castle.

 I arrange my face in a look of intense pain, my foot risen and bundled up to ensure the ruse  of an accident.

“Sir Edmund, I thank you for coming out in this awful weather to meet me. I have had an  accident and have fallen from my horse and we cannot carry on. I entreat you, please let us  take refuge until I can travel further.”

Sir Edmund is a true Knight. Surely, he cannot turn away a lady in distress. My men and  and my sole lady in waiting stand protectively around me, my lady fussing to ensure I’m comfortable.

Sir Edmund bows with a flourish, “Welcome to Kimbolton Lady Maria, we were not expecting you. I hope you have not injured yourself grievously?”

I look up with a pained expression on my face. “Indeed Sir, I have tried to carry on, but as soon as we came upon your castle, the first we have seen since my fall….” Sir Edmund crouches by my side and examines my ankle. I flinch as he tries to lift it. Sir Edmund stands, as he thinks through the situation. He has clear instructions not to allow a person inside the castle without the authority of his Majesty. I allow my pride to drop and beg, whilst he struggles inwardly.

“Sir Edmund. Please. I know you have your orders, but you can see here I cannot travel with this injury. I have a letter on it’s way allowing my visit. I had planned to travel on until this permission had arrived- however, fate has seen otherwise. PLEASE.” I look up with such desperation. The cold wind assists, a tear forms in my eye to complete the look.

Sir Edmund sighs. “Of course Lady Willoughby. I could not in good conscious let you continue in such a condition. My men will show your travelling party through, I’ll have rooms for you shortly.”

Inwardly I sigh with relief, outwardly, I look grateful – which I am. I can see my queen. Sir Edmund helps me rise and assists me in through the gates to warmth and my dearest friend.

Queen Katherine of Aragon

I lay in my bed and cannot get comfortable. No matter how many logs are placed in the fire or how many furs they cover me with, I still shiver from the Katherine of Aragon death bedcold. My cough is deep and rattles, the pain in my chest gets worse each day. My attendants try to feed me a few spoonfuls of broth but I have no appetite. These are the women that Henry chose for me, none are my dear companions. I turn my head away and pull out a crumpled letter, wet from my tears. My Mary’s last letter to me. I never thought that Henry could be so cruel as to keep our only child away from me.

I clasp my rosary beads that belonged to my mother, a great queen in her own right. The beads bring comfort to me, no matter what Henry did to me, I would not admit or accept something that was not true. I am his true wife and the only Queen of England. I know that I am close to death and could have the comfort of my Mary if I just accepted Henry’s terms, but NOTHING could force me to declare that  I am not his true wife.

A cold wind billows through the room, blowing out the candles and torches. I can feel the cold all the way to my bones but I try to remember the warmth of the sun on my face as a child in Spain. So many memories, so much heartache. I watch the women try to light up the room again and as I look, I see a vision in the doorway. Now my mind is playing tricks with me because I imagine my closest friend Maria De Salinas, now Willoughby standing in the door way. I know when the torches are lit, the vision of my beloved Maria will be gone. But the vision speaks my name and holds my hand, trying to rub warmth into it.

“Dios mío, se esta María? My God is this María?” Tears spill from the corner of my eyes. If this is my imagination, don’t let it stop. ” Maria, is it really you? How did you ever get in here to see me?” She kisses my cheeks, ” Maria besides Mary there is no one else I rather have with me. Tell me it is really you. Gracias a Dios.”

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

I fall to my queen’s side- my dear dear friend, I have made it just in time. I take in her face, wasted from the illness and colourless. She is swamped in furs, the fires stoked high in an attempt to keep Katherine warm.

TeKatherine and Mariaars well in my eyes. “My queen, I am here. I could not be kept away from you during your time of need.”

I take my Queen Katherine’s hands- they are chilled and I wrap my hands around her small ones in attempt to warm them. I look about the dismal chamber. This is not how the true Queen of England should end her days. A burning anger wells inside me, knowing that the impostor of a “queen” Anne Boleyn is sitting in a grand palace in London, in Katherine’s palace. I swallow back that anger and keep my eyes on my true queen’s face.

I stroke her hair back from her face. “My dear queen. How can I make you more comfortable? I am here to serve you in anyway I can. I will not allow them to turn me out.”

Queen Katherine of Aragon

” Aye Maria, there is no other person I would wish to be with me besides Mary. ” I clutch Maria’s arm. ” What news have you of my beloved daughter? I know I will never see her again.” I can not hold back my tears when I think of my only child. ” Maria, it has to be that bruja, I cannot believe the Henry I knew capable of keeping mother and daughter apart. But nothing he does to me will ever make me utter the words he wishesRosary to hear. I am his true and legal wife, and Mary is the rightful heir to England. I will NEVER say otherwise, no matter what he does to me.

” I fear I do not have a lot of time left but your visit gives me strength. Come sit and tell me about your life with your husband. It makes me happy that you made such a good marriage here. ”

I shut my eyes and tried to envision Maria’s life. I hold my diamond and pearl rosary, one of  the few jewels left to me. It belonged to my mother and Henry would not dare to take that away from me, it belongs to Spain, not England. I smile as Maria fills me in on her life and what has been happening away from this damp fortress.

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

I chatter away about my husband, my child Katherine, named in honour of my friend and queen, about my household and our property. I see Katherine focus and brighten as I detail my life outside this god-forsaken vault. My heart is broken that the king, her beloved shining king, who rose us from poverty after the death of Prince Arthur, has become a tyrant. I try to hold onto the image of Henry of old – or I may begin a tirade of vehemence.

I address the reference to the Lady Anne. “Mi reina, it is the influence of the pretend queen. The reports from court tell of the great influence she has. It is certainly her influence that he will not allow the princess to visit you. You would be proud of your daughter, she is her mother’s daughter, she holds her head high, and is strong.” I do not care who hears me use my Spanish Princess’s true title. She will always be England’s true queen, as Mary is England’s true Princess.

I cast aside protocol and take Katherine’s hand. “Mi reina, colour is returning to your face. You will not depart this life just yet.” She cannot leave us. The Boleyn’s cannot be allowed to prevail. I smile brightly, pushing aside the dread in my heart.

Queen Katherine of Aragon

I smile as I listen to my Maria fill me in on her happy life. She did well for herself here in England. It brings joy to my heart to know that Maria Ruby ringand her English husband have such a good relationship. I pull the heavy, worn quilts up to my neck for there is always a chill that lives in the stone walls, it is always damp with a musty smell. I shiver and my coughing begins again. Maria begs me to eat some broth but her presence is all the nourishment I need.

” Maria, do you remember the happy days we spent as children in Spain? I have always missed Spain’s sunny days. I loved the feel of the warmth from the sun on my face. We would sit outside and pick the sweet, juicy oranges, the juice always trickled down your chin. I think about Spain a lot now, Mary loves her mother’s country just from all the stories I told her.”

I smile wanly and take off my ruby and pearl ring, the ruby is the size of a quail’s egg and has always been one of my favourite possessions. The gold filigree somehow makes the ring look dainty, even with the enormous stones.

” María, mi mejor amiga que siempre me ha gustado, you are my closest friend whom I have always loved. I want you to have this ring. When you look at it, always remember the good times we have had together. It is just a small token of the love I feel for you.” I put it into Maria’s warm hands and smiled at her.

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

My eyes well with tears as my queen gifts me the ring. A protest rises to my lips but fades away before they are verbalised. I cannot pretend that my dear friend does not have many days left. I close my fingers over the gift.

“Gracias, I shall treasure it til the end of my days. Every morning when I put on this ring, I shall think of you and Spain. Every visit with the Princess Mary I will tell her the stories of our youth, of the golden sunlight and sweet oranges. You will live on in your daughter.”

I squeeze Katherine’s hand, then fuss with the blankets, calling for a maid to bring more, demanding more wood. I demand to see the queen’s physician.

I do not wish to leave the queen’s side. I refuse all offers of hospitality after bowing to the king’s orders for so much time. I will do all I can to make my friend’s last days happy and comfortable.Maria on her deathbed

Queen Katherine of Aragon

“My dearest friend, I cannot let you sacrifice your well being by angering his Majesty with your visit here. Your company has cheered me up and I feel myself getting stronger. You know my love for you, but I beg you, if at all possible, look after my Mary. We have been apart for too long. I will rest easier knowing that you will do all you can for her.” I squeeze her hand and smile wanly. ” You must go Maria, I will not have the King’s anger directed towards you.”

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

“Of course, I will always be there and care for Mary. I will always advocate for her well being. As for my current location – I fear I cannot be moved, I have injured myself after falling from my horse.” I give the queen a mischievous smile and continue cheerfully. “Sir Bedingfield is kindly accommodating my travelling party, so I imagine we shall be here for a few days until I can continue comfortably. Until then, you shall have me for company.”

Katherine is comforted and squeezes my hand and I sit and we talk of sunshine and Spain and the golden days of the days when we were young and at Court. She takes a little broth and falls to sleep. Once I am satisfied that the queen will sleep peacefully I return to my own chamber and rest deeply until I am woken early the next day by my lady-in-waiting to tell me Chapuys has arrived. I breath a sigh of relief and prepare myself to see our old friend.

The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys

Horses I arrive at Kimbolton and am sadden at what poor Katherine has been sent to. This home is not what a daughter of Isabel deserve. It is not for the true Queen. My heart aches for what has become to Katherine and I wish I could have done something more for her. I can only hope to somehow prevent poor Princess Mary from the same fate…I wait patiently for Lady Maria, in hope that she will tell me that Queen Katherine’s health has improve. But as she enters, I can tell that Katherine is still unwell. “ Lady Maria, I am glad to see you so unexpectedly. I have came to visit Katherine. How is she? I have been told very little about her health, however I have been led to expect that she is so very unwell and may die sooner than we wish.”

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

I curtsey to the Ambassador, relieved he has arrived. I know it will lift Katherine’s spirit instantly, however I dread revealing the state of her health to our old friend.

Maria and Chapuys“Bienvenida Ambassador, I am so pleased you have been able to visit the queen.” I am CERTAINLY not going to deny Katherine of Aragon her rightful title here, amongst her friends.”I fear however her condition is worse than I had imagined. I know however, she will be comforted by your company.”

I smile gratefully to Chapuys, direct a servant to take his belongings before leading him to Katherine’s rooms.

I motion for Chapuys to pause in the hallway, away from the bustling staff and lean in so none may hear my words. “It is appalling the conditions the queen must live in. She is terribly ill, she cannot sit up and complains of a pain in her stomach.” I pause as a servant passes by, and we resume our path to the queen’s rooms, Chapuys looking very grave. I feel nervous, I know there are many spies and I do not want to raise the ire of the king – nor Cromwell.

The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys

My hearts drops in light of Maria’s update. “I wish I could help her, but alas, there is nothing I have not already tried. It saddens me greatly to see The Queen living here.” I whisper to Maria has we approach Katherine room. I could smell the stench of sickness before entering to dreary rooms of the Queen. I stare at the patient’s bed and barely recognise see the royal figure that was beloved by all of England. Before me, I see a woman who’s face shows her illness, her body wasted and the lines of  age etched into her weary face.  Sadness overwhelms me and makes me pray that my plans for Princess Mary succeed, that this will not happen to her daughter. I approach Katherine’s bed, as she dismisses her servants, glad that no spies will be able to hear are conversation.

Queen Katherine of Aragon

I open my eyes which feel heavy as if they are weighed down with sand. I can hear Maria whispering to someone as I try to sit up. Maria comesIMG_2660 to my side and fluffs my pillows, helping me to ease into a sitting position. As I cough I put my hands to my chest and stomach. The pain is almost unbearable but I try not to cry out for I see my other beloved friend. The Imperial Ambassador speaking to Maria.

” Do my eyes deceive me again? ” I slowly hold out my hand to Eustace Chapuys who quickly takes it. ” Today must be a very special day because I am in the presence of my most cherished friends. Tell me, I most know. How is my Mary? Tell me everything and do no spare my feelings for I must know the truth. ” The cough starts again and I cannot stop till Maria gives me a cup of wine with herbs and honey. But it seeps my energy. I whisper to the ambassador and pray he has some good news for once. I feel each lapis bead on my rosary as I silently ask God to help Mary. ”Come my friend, tell me all you know and help me with your wise council.”

The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys

My hearts breaks a little further as I see how ill my beloved queen is. I hold her hand steady and push back my emotions from the surface. “Mary, prays for you everyday. She is strong in her pride and stands by your claims. She is a faithful Catholic. But I’m afraid her father is neglectful to her, The whore has his mind poisoned. But there are rumours that he is growing tired of her ways and is drifting away from her.” I look closely at the queen and see her determination  in her face. “Please do not worry about the Princess, I have seen to it that she will be cared for. One day she will rule England, she will be a mighty Queen.”

Queen Katherine of Aragon

I pat his hand and smile happily at Maria and the Imperial Ambassador.
” You bring me good news, I know my Mary will be a great queen like my mother. She will lead England back to the true religion, she still is his Majesty’s pearl. All the Boleyn woman has done is given him another girl. He knows in his heart that Mary is his only heir. Once the influence of the Boleyn’s wan then he will reconcile with our daughter. ”

” Sir Chapuys, tell me about my nephew, what news do you have about him. I know you are disappointed that he did not come to England to restore me to my rightful role as queen. But the pope stayed on our side. You have been such a good friend to me and Mary. I do not know if I could have survived this without you. But as God as my witness, I am the true Queen of England and when I die, I will still be the Queen of England. ”

I keep hold of Chapuys hand. ” Maria, I feel my appetite returning and would like some soup and bread now. See? My friend’s are all the medicine I need.” I look at them both and give a most cheerful smile as I feel much more invigorated. I rub the soft fur of the blue fox quilt that keeps me warm in this draughty castle. Sunlight seeps through the windows and I am much cheered.

The Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys

I smile at Maria with renewed hope and vigour. The return of the Queen’s appetite and the colour in her face give me hope for a recovery. “Your Chapuysnephew the Emperor wishes only for your health to improve. He has been saddened by the news of your cruel treatment by his Majesty. He only wishes he could show his Majesty the error of his ways. He will make sure to help Princess Mary in any way – except for invading England’s shores. He cannot spare any more men due to his soldiers being in Italy and his conflict with France.” I wishI could tell her Majesty about the plans we have for Mary, I know we would give her cheer, however I must try to hide my smile.

“You will always be the true Queen. Once your health improves and the King tires of his putan. He will restore you and Princess Mary to your rightful titles. All of England will rejoice on that great day.” I watch as a small frown forms on her face. All could see that she had clearly given up any hope of the King returning to her. Who could blame her? It is due to his vile treatment and ruthless behaviour towards my beloved Queen. It is a tragic situation more befitting a Greek tragedy then a lady as kind and virtuous as her Majesty. But the King is not to blame. The putan has caused all this torment. Hoping to give her encouragement, I put a smile upon my face to give her inspiration. “I am very happy to have been able to help and comfort you and the Princess Mary. It is a great honour to be considered a friend. I will devote my life to doing all I can for you and the Princess Mary. ”

Queen Katherine of Aragon

I hold out my hand to the Imperial Ambassador, he has been a true friend. Trying to lift my spirits when I was despondent, as I tried to lift his when he was in despair. We have made quite a team. I hope that I will see him once again for this pain in my chest does not cease. Maria lays another sable fur to keep me warm. How the cold seeps through all the mortar of this godforsaken place. I smile wanly at my true and trusted friend.

” No one could ask for a better friend then you have been to me. I ask you to always watch out for my Mary. She must be a good daughter to her father but she must serve God first. I can do nothing to help her in this prison. ” Removing my treasured emarald ring that my mother gave to me, I hand it to the Imperial Ambassador.

” Please give this to Mary, when you see her next. Tell her how much I love her and I pray we will be reunited soon. This ring belonged to my Dying Katherinemother, a true warrior queen. One day Mary will follow in my mother’s footsteps and reign over England. Also, tell my nephew that I pray for him and hope a day will come when he is able to visit me again.”

My eyes grow heavy and I must shut them for a few minutes. I hear Chapuys whispering to Maria that he must return but I am too tired to wish him a safe journey. The heavy oak door closes with a creaky, thud and I know he has left. I wish I would have asked him when he would see Mary next.

” Maria, the broth has revived me but I feel tired and wish to sleep. Can you close the drapes and ask for more wood to be put in the fire? No matter how many rich sables you cover me with, I still cannot get warm.”

Today has been a good day, I have seen my closest friends. I should have known that a army would not keep Maria away. It gives me comfort that she has married well and will always be provided for. The heavy, blue, brocade drapes with with the gold fringe, keeps the sun light out. I close my eyes and think of the happy days I spent in Spain as a child with my family, as I drift off to sleep.

Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby

I bustle around the room, building the fire myself, ensuring the room is properly sealed. I kneel beside my queen and take her hand and kiss it. She is sleeping, a slight smile curves upon her lips. I kiss her hand, tears begin to well in my eyes. I take one long, last look at my friend and

reluctantly leave her to her dreams. “Sueño bien mi amigo.” It has been quite a journey we have had in England. I rush to my own rooms to compose myself.Katherine and Maria

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

I pace my rooms restlessly, ignoring my Lady-in-waiting who remind me in a low voice to keep up the pretence of my sprained ankle. After two hours, I make a break for the door and rush down to Katherine’s rooms, I have a feeling of dread and I will not rest until I see Katherine’s chest rising and falling as she continues to breathe.

I vaguely take in the dark, dank hallways, a chill racing down my spine and I shiver. I can hear footsteps hurriedly trying to keep up. As I close in on the entrance to the queen’s rooms, the queen’s Chaplin emerges from the door, followed by the ladies that were in the pay of the Boleyn witch.

Suddenly my heart is in my mouth. I am not ready for this post-Katherine world. The look the Chaplin gives me is despair. The women behind him have a glint in their eyes.

I drop to my knees and a moan escapes my lips. I am aware of people rushing about me as hot tears pour from my eyes. I know I am sobbing, I care not how I look. My truest friend is gone. I am alone. My world is shattered. I can hear bells tolling and horses racing from the god-forsaken castle. Soon, that whore will be celebrating the death of our true queen.

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.

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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

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BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

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The Seymour’s Begin Their Rise, UK Court

December 7, 2014 in News, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Having received the letters patent for Edward Seymour’s new title from the King personally, Nicolas Carew approached the new apartments recently given to the Seymour’s by Cromwell. Having such an honour done for them showed how high their little Jane was in the King’s favour and with this new title, their favor seemed to be growing faster. As for himself, as long as he continued his genuine friendship with the Seymour’s, he would prosper also, especially if she became Queen.

quill_and_scroll_image

Nicholas Carew

Walking with the measured authority of a true noble he strides through the corridors, a scroll of introduction clasped in his fist.
The elegant cut of his robes discretely held fine gold thread at every seam, a powerful muscularity gave a spring to each movement. His slim appearance concealing a powerful muscularity, when this was coupled with his skill and speed, he had become undefeated in the tiltyard. But these refinements began in his youth, now he was to tutor Lady Seymour on how to keep the King’s eyes focused upon her within the rules of the etiquette she must follow whilst she attended court.

He relished this role, a small smile played upon his lips, the etiquette and manners of court were a delicate and intricate skill, he had been judged as proficient in these areas to school Lady Seymour. Yet, he also knew that as a gentleman his duty lay in the assistance to others, especially a lady.

Approaching the door of Lady Seymour’s chambers, he straightened his back and rapped gently upon the wooden door…

Jane Seymour

I stand amongst the finery of our new apartments, somewhat overwhelmed by the opulence. I run my hands Jane and Edward Seymourover the rich fabrics that dress the
room dreading the moment the queen casts her eyes upon me and wistfully thinking of the true Queen of England.

I am starting to feel out of my depth, and my brothers can sense it. I am not immune to the growing unease of court, the factions are beginning to shift, The king’s mood swings wildly one way or the other at any given moment. Who knows how long this infatuation with me will last. I could be cast aside as Madge any day. As our family is relatively new at this level of the game, my brothers have enlisted the assistance of friends and cousins who would like to cast their lot in with ours.

As I ponder on what they will advise me, someone seeks our company, I nod for one of my ladies to admit the visitor and in bows Nicolas Carew. My education it seems is to begin.

Edward Seymour Edward Seymour

I sit in front of the fire, wondering at the monumental good favor our family has received. I  contemplate the queen. She will not move aside quietly for my sister. Thomas and I stand  bewildered at Henry’s affection for Jane.  My brother, in his grandiose way, dreams of  advantage that can be gained from this. Although I am not unwilling to benefit from Henry’s  sudden respect for our family, I remain cautious, lest it all be taken away on the king’s next capricious whim. As the door opens, I rise to greet Sir Nicholas. What a picture he makes, the very image of  chivalry. “Sir Nicholas, welcome! Please, come warm yourself!” I glance at Jane, “ Sister, will you pour our guest  some wine?”

Nicholas Carew

Nicholas offers a warm smile to Jane as he approaches Edward, realising he must set a precedent with all the Seymours by performing protocol to the letter. Bowing his head slightly, he presents the scroll to Edward. His primary role was to instruct Jane, but where she led the rest of he family must follow. Edward was the head of the family, the introduction must be presented to him.
As Edward took the scroll Nicholas offered a small bow once more, then looking up he said,download (3)

“Your servant, Sir.” Turning to Jane he took the goblet offering her a dazzling smile,

“Soon M’Lady you will only present our king with his wine, remember, when you are firmly in his favour many tasks are beneath you”
Moving to the fire,he faces the whole family. Raising the goblet to his nose, closes his eyes and savours the depth and complexity of the aromas,
“French.” He comments, raising his eye brows, closing his eyes again his nostrils flare as he breaths deeply, “The Bordeaux region I believe…..perhaps from a sun soaked valley of the Gironde.” Gently tipping the goblet to his lips he noticeably savours a sip of the ruby nectar.
Swallowing he looks at his fascinated audience,

“No, it is from Gascony further south and it is fit for a king” then smiling at Jane,“Or a queen”, the Seymour’s are bemused by Carews’ seemingly outstanding knowledge. Seeing the admiration in their faces, he sets the goblet on the table,
“I am no connoisseur” he smiles,

“This wine is His Majesty’s favourite, it is imported from Gascony and is known as ‘Reck’, I know that our King is constructing a wine cellar beneath Whitehall to stock this wine and other fine wines. It is the application of this knowledge that allows me to appear as an expert in its taste, aroma and origin. It also shows that our King favours your presence as he has commanded you receive his favourite wine.”

Turning to Jane, he smiles, his eyes glowing with warmth,

“You see M’Lady, what a little knowledge applied in the correct manner and circumstance can do to enhance your presence and favour in court and the eyes of our Liege?” Collecting the goblet again, he continues.

“Not only can I impart all the knowledge you will need and the skill to present it, but also the manner and actions you require, causing our Majesty’s eyes to be drawn to you and no other. Though your looks will doubtlessly draw his eye without much prompting.”

He smiles once again, his eyes full of laughter,

“I will steer you and school you in court etiquette and protocol, though I believe you are well versed in this area, M’Lady. I also feel that I must protect you from the intrigues and skullduggery that snake their way through our ‘noble assembly’. Each courtier wishing to enhance their reputation and reputation with the king, while destroying their rival courtiers in any way possible!”

Turning to Edward, the smile had gone, ” I recommend that the tutoring should begin in the morning, perhaps with a brief spell of hunting.”
A grin flashes across his face, “We may bump into our King, he is often found hunting in the morning either in the saddle or perhaps with his hawks” …

Jane Seymour

jane seymour1“I see you have the knowledge to steer me through this maze and I thank you for taking an interest in me and mine Sir. Of course, I am familiar with court as a Lady in Waiting to the queen, but I have never waded into the intrigues which have surrounded me.” I refill my brothers cup and Carew’s.

“I still wish to retain my good name. I do NOT want the same stain as the Boleyn girls, nor Madge Shelton or any of the king’s paramours.” Carew looks surprised at my instance. “And I do not wish to anger any queen.” Either one. I can see Edward to begin to interject.

“Pray let me finish. I believe the king seeks my company because I am not embroiled in any intrigue nor do I care to be.” I smile wryly. “It is my simple country girl charms and I do not wish to change for any king.”

I sip my own cup and sit and look expectantly at the men who wish to guide me.

Edward Seymour

Jane has never been a forward maid. She has always been obedient to our Lord Father, and has unfailingly done as she was told. I glance at Sir Nicholas, hoping he has not taken offence at her speech. “Of course, Jane. Your virtue is paramount! But you must know that the queen can not help but be angered by our king’s interest in you! She is a jealous woman, given to unseemly fits of temper.”

I cross the room Edward Seymourquickly, and take my sister’s hands in my own. “Have I ever misled you Jane? Have I ever failed in my duty to you as a brother?” I lower my voice, and speak only to her, “Sister, if we are to do this thing, there will be risk. But as long as you have King  Henry’s favor, and the help of Cromwell, and Sir Nicholas here, I assure you, we will all do our very best to protect you.”

Turning back to my sister’s most dignified tutor I ask, ” Is there gossip, sir? About Jane?  She holds her virtue and good name dear.”

 

Nicholas Carew

I glance down and notice a few hairs that have collected around my sleeve. Frowning a little, I brush the offending items away, inwardly chastising mysellf for praising my dogs before I called upon the Seymour’s. Looking up, the charming smile has reappeared on my face.

“M’lady, as you will know, every lady of the court has gossip, intrigue and scandal surrounding them. This originates in the kitchens and the corridors, between the scullery maids and cooks! They need such fantasy to distract from their own lives.”

I sigh.

“The only scandal that should concern you, is scandal that has a firm basis or one that may affect the the King’s affections towards you!”
My charming smile becomes a little crooked, almost playful, “But I know that it will take a lot for our Liege to change his opinion of you!”
I reach down for my goblet, looking into the ruby liquid, I swirl it around a little watching the complex drink make its smooth circular movements. The fire is warm upon my back and for a brief moment I stretch my shoulders, easing the muscles with the heat that radiates through my back and up to my shoulders.

Looking back to Jane, my face is a little serious, but my eyes still twinkle.

“I have no intelligences to suggest any form of gossips exists, beyond the whisperings of your presence and the reason for the Seymour’s rise is in royal favour. None of this will damage any of your family’s character, in fact it will advertise your elevated position, this can only aid your reception at court. There will be those who will swoon over you, yet plot behind your back…..Smiling assassins, cads and charmers! However, your one enemy at court could be The Duke of Norfolk and his family. You know he is Anne’s Uncle, he sees the Seymour’s rise as an erosion of his power base and influence in the court. The Duke is powerful and intelligent, he has the personality of a Cobra, the cunning of a fox and strength of Lucifer. He will appear as a chilvarous knight from the Arthurian legends! While he charms you with his silver tongue, his spies and informants will be searching for any scrap of information that will benefit his Grace and diminish your standing!”
I pause again to sip my wine.

“It poison gobletis my position, nay, my duty come to negate any of these scandalous intrigues before  they take hold, even monitoring the the Duke’s agents if I believe it’s prudent. It is also  my duty, not only as your new confidant, but as a gentleman who sees chivalry as the  golden thread of his life,to protect you from the those who would hurt you  bodily,spiritually or damage your pride and reputation.”

A wide grin spreads across my face as I tilt my head.

“However, given your character not to mention your beauty, a fair pure beauty at that, you  need not worry yourself with any scandal, for it will all be without basis or evidence.” I  turn to Seymour, “However, if I might make a small suggestion.”

I pause and then sigh.

“Your brother….Thomas, he is known for frivolity and his ease with ladies of any standing, status or breeding. Might I suggest that whilst he is in the vicinity of court, that he is kept on a tight rein, so his actions do not give anyone, especially Norfolk, a hint of scandal.”

Returning my smile to Jane, I continue with a slightly admonishing tone.

“The Queen at this present time could be described as flamboyant and gregarious to say the least!” I continue with a more serious note in voice.
“The King is tired of decadence in his queen, not to mention an issue with an heir for his thrown, but he realises that the country and his subjects loved Katherine and their Church! His rampant ardour for Anne, caused the segregation of both Church and Katherine from the lives of his people, his subjects. Whilst Henry is powerful and strong, he realises his greatest strength and power lies in the loyalty of his subjects!
Henry has made a lot of enemies, though to speak of it is treason. So in addition for his desire for an heir, I believe he wishes to restore loyalty and religious faith in his subjects for the new church and their king.” I pause allowing all this information to digest, “One possible way to achieve this, along with an heir, is to have a queen they will love.”

The serious note leaves my voice as my eyes sparkle again.

“I am speaking in practical terms milady, he seeks to show the country that the Church of England and political status of the monarchy are pure and virtuous, this could be enhanced by a new queen who typifies the characteristics he seeks to display to the court and the country. ” I pause sipping the wine once more.

“Your beauty, character and elegance may match the King’s machinations, but that is not the only reason for his desire. The radiance and glow of your beauty has captured Henry’s gaze in its own right, it is it is just an added bonus that the political and religious situation favours a beauty such as yours.”

Jane Seymour

I know that Sir Nicholas speaks courtly words and exaggerates my beauty. None can compare to the beauty of Queen Katherine in her youth, yet a blush spreads across my cheeks. I try to sort through the thoughts barrelling through my mind. Kings, queens, heirs, court intrigues, Dukes, faiths – it is all over my head. Nor am I especially interested. Perhaps that is what appeals to Henry. But if we are to continue down this track, I must have someone who I can trust- Carew is correct in his assessment of my beloved brother Thomas. Edward is the astute brother- but we are new to these games, unlike Carew who is now claiming to be against Anne Boleyn.

“It is an honour Sir Nicholas, to hear you have such confidence in me. I truly love our king and all I wish is for a peaceful country with an heir for our king.” Just like his queen’s before him. Except Anne, who does not believe in anything but herself. I glance at Edward who is watching me carefully, still holding on to my hand reassuringly. “You must truly believe the king’s affections for me must be true to offer your guidance to our family.”

Edward gives me a slight nod. ” My brothers and I will be guided by your advice Sir Nicholas.” I take a deep breath. “Where do we go from here?”

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The True Heir

September 2, 2014 in Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador sits at his worn desk as he writes the emperor. He feels that he failed Katherine and her health has deteriorated. The Emperor did not follow his advice to invade England to stop Henry from breaking with Rome and replacing the rightful Queen Katherine with the putone Anne Boleyn. His heart was broken for Katherine but he had to devote all his attention to Mary, Henry’s rightful heir. If Anne succeeded in giving birth to a son Chapuys felt that Mary’s life could be in peril. He was not going to fail the Princess Mary. He gives his servant the letter to be dispatched and has his groom ready his steed to visit Princess Mary.

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Princess Mary UK Q

I walked around the estate calmer now that I had finally been freed from serving the concubine’s daughter Elizabeth. The stress and mistreatment has brought back back many of my ailments and they did not want Elizabeth to be in danger. I keep rubbing my hands together, unaware of my nervous habit. Even though my new home is damp it feels better to be out of the babe’s household. I walk swiftly to the chapel as my gown sweeps the old rushes and light the candles as I kneel to the alter. Dei, a me quod vis, quaeso ut me. It faciat judicium conplacui. God, I beseech you to show me what you wish from me. Guide me so that I make the right decisions. Bless my father for he is under the spell of a witch and knows not what he is doing. Great men such as Fisher and More have lost their life because of the puta, Ann Boleyn.”
I weep in despair, I have not seen my mother in years and now she has become weaker from an unknown sickness. I have heard whispers that she is being poisoned, will I be next? How do I obey my father and follow my conscious? I can not turn my back on my mother and God. The years have taken their toll on me. I have been stripped of my rightful title and have been declared a bastard by my father. I hold my head, the anguish of what has become my life weighs too heavy on me. I know not which way to turn.
As I become lost in my thoughts, one of my attendants whispers that I have a visitor. I slowly stand up and a glimmer of hope seeps into my heart, could it be my father? I gather my celadon gown and rush out to greet my visitor, I rarely have one. I try not to hide my disappointment when I see that it is the Imperial Ambassador and not my father but Chapuys. He is my one true friend and I greet him warmly. He bows and takes my hand as we walk the grounds. ” What news have you of my mother, father and court?”

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Eustace Chapuys Uk

I walk with Mary noticing how the years have hurt her and are beginning to show on her face. She was still a beauty with much of her mother in her but she did not have the strength of Katherine. Katherine is happy to die a martyr but I pray to God that the same fate does not befall Mary. I can not do any more to save Katherine, that battle is lost. But I will devote myself to saving Mary. She is alone with no one to guide or protect her.
” The puta grows heavy with the child yet the King’s eyes have turned elsewhere. There is a Mistress Seymour he has become enraptured with but none of that will matter if Madame Boleyn gives your father a son. Her place will be secure forever and you may be in great peril. Mary, you must listen to me. I have arranged with your cousin the Holy Emperor to secretly transport you to Spain if the puta bears a son. You are still the rightful heir to those who adhere to the true religion. We will ride at night where a ship will be waiting for us to take you to safety under the protection of the Emperor. I would not do this if there was any other way to keep you safe. You must think of your duty to the people of England. ” I study Mary’s face and try not to look at her gown that is frayed at the bottom and has been hastily patched up. What a disgrace for the granddaughter of the great Queen Isabella.

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Princess Mary UK Q

I sigh and think hard, a life without hiding and fear that my next meal could kill me. Spain Would bring me happiness, the Emperor may even make a good marriage for me. This could be the answer to my prayers. “It would not be easy to escape from this prison.  But I fear you may be right. I can barely eat my meals after they’ve been tasted. I fear poison everyday. My poor mother has already been poisoned and I know the concubine will want me out of the way  as soon as she gives my father a son. My life would be intolerable. How will the Emperor treat me? Do you think my mother will try to run as well.” I say hoping that this could bring us together again.

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Eustace Chapuys Uk

I smile happily that I have piqued Mary’s interest and she seems open to the idea. I will not fail Mary as I have her mother. “The Emperor will treat you according to your proper title as future heir to the throne of England and as his dearest cousin. He will also help you find a good match, a prince noble enough for his cousin. As for your mother I fear she is too ill.”
Though even if she was well, she would never run, she will die the martyr. “ I am sorry, but many of her doctors do not know how much time she has left. I would believe she was being poisoned but her food is all tasted before she eats any. The doctor’s are not sure from what malady the Queen suffers. I am sorry to give you such bad news your Highness.” I embrace this poor young woman whose life has been turned upside down and is living in poverty and seclusion. As God is my witness I will not fail her.

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Princess Mary UK Q

I will pray for my mother’s soul, sed in ipsa Dei ulnis.  May she be delivered into God’s loving arms. My heart shatters at the thought of not being able to be with her in the end, nor to say goodbye. I wipe my tears quickly.. Even though I knew it was a sin, I wished Mistress Boleyn would have a terrible death and suffer as she has caused my mother to suffer. I stay quiet knowing that I would have to go to confession for my wicked thoughts. But the Boleyn woman is evil and put a spell on my beloved father. He would never have treated us so badly if it was not for the witch’s spells. I cross myself quickly as I shudder with fear. A life without fear was what I craved, to be recognized as the true princess and heir to the throne of England. The thought of finding a husband brought me some comfort. I knew one day I would return to England and bring her back to the true faith. “ I will agree to your plans, please inform me as soon as you know the details. I must go pray for God’s safety and that one day I will return to England and my rightful place as queen.”

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Eustace Chapuys Uk

“ Listen to me Mary, never lose hope or faith. God will see you through these terrible times. I have you best interests at heart and I shall not fail you. “I bend a knee and kiss her hand. ” Be careful and keep yourself well.” I watch Mary walk slowly  back to the manor and shake my head of what has befallen mother and daughter. I will return to my home and swiftly send the Emperor a missive with this news.

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A Den of Serpents, UK Court

July 25, 2014 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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As Jane dines with the King at Westhorpe, the Seymours dine together at Wulfhall, planning a way to bring down the Boleyns and for them to rise higher since their Jane has caught the eye of the King. Edward, Thomas and Elizabeth are eating roast peacock and drinking a fruity claret as they plan their next step. They are a jovial group as they think of the spoils that could come their way if the Boleyns fall.

Thomas Seymour

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Thomas leans back in his chair, he feels sleepy and contented as the fire behind him embraces his body, enveloping him in a blanket of warmth. His half closed eyes rest upon the deep red liquid encased in his stankard, the tankard being his own personal receptacle that he insists upon using at every meal as it can hold more liquor!
His fingers trail across the front of his linen shirt and fall down to his stomach. He notices his flat stomach, is not as flat as it used to be. All this pleasurable living is taking it’s toll on his body, he makes a mental note to hunt further and harder tomorrow and re start his wrestling practice. Even if he is to rise in the ranks of the nobility, even if he is to call the King ‘Brother in Law’, he must not let this pleasurable living incapacitate him for the greatest pleasure of all!
With that thought, his eyes close all together as he remembers his tussle in the hay with ”Mad” Richard Jacob’s wife that very afternoon. Her dark hair framing her beauty as he held her next to him, their lips meeting as their bodies melted…..

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With a start Thomas remembers himself, nearly dropping his tankard!
He looks at his siblings across the table, they exchange glances and his cheeks colour a little, he covers his embarrassment by stabbing the peacocks roasted flesh and pulling a tender part of breast away from the bird.
Looking up he glances at Edward and then Elizabeth, returning his gaze to the dark meat, he says
”I wonder how Jane is getting along at Westhrope, with our King and his loyal dog…..Charles Brandon!
However, I would like to be introduced to Dowager Queen Mary, her beauty and elegance are wasted on a slug head like Duke Charles. Still, I suppose Brandon is useful, he will aid our efforts to rip the Boleyn wench and her interbred family away from Henry!”
Thomas drops the dark breast onto his plate and sips from the tankard, as the fruity liquid warms the back of his throat, his mind ponders the delicate balance of power that exists by being ’Favoured’ or ’Not Favoured’ by Henry.
Thomas places his tankard on the table and raises his eyebrows, inviting his brother and sister to comment……….

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Elizabeth Seymour 

Elizabeth grabbed a handful of fruit for her plate as she spoke. ”I’m sure she enjoys it there.” She then sips the sweet wine. ”Maybe one day after His Majesty will tire of her and Jane will give him a son. It won’t happen now but, we have to be patient.” She says as she looks at Thomas.

Edward Seymour

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”All in due time, Elizabeth. First, we must inflame the King’s desires for her and then pull away as the current Queen did except Jane will be more subtle about it.” Edward Seymour sipped his claret with a well pleased expression. ”Indeed, Brother despite his background or lack of it, Charles Brandon is a very helpful tool that I would not mind using. However, your inclinations toward the Dowager Queen will do us more harm than good and so I trust you to divert your amusement elsewhere.”

 

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Smirking across the table,Thomas sips more wine,
”Henry’s ’enflaming’ is often present in his bed chambers, we just need to place Jane into that position. The slut Boleyn, merely tempted him with forbidden fruits and her abandon on his bed”
Thomas lifts both his legs and places them on the table, Elizabeth’s frozen stare would have chilled the fires of hell, but Thomas simply winked at his sister, reached forward and grabbed a rosy apple from the table. Rubbing the apple against his doublet, he examined it and sunk his teeth into the juicy fruit. Looking bemused by Elizabeth’s indignant stare, he shrugged and took his feet from the table.
”Our sister is worth ten of those Boleyns! We need to give her the same support that the whore, Anne, has in the court circles. We should whisper in the right ears, flatter the inner circle, compliment the right nobles and blackmail those we cannot persuade to support our sister. Then, all the the court will see our sister as Queen Jane. But, we must then find a delicious accusation, a rope rumour or intimate scandal that we can use to undermine that slattern’s position in the Royal Bed!”
Thomas leans back,the flames of the fire caress his neck and shoulders’ the warmth stripping the tension from his muscles.
”That bitch must have hidden secrets or some vice we can expose!”, he stretches in his chair, then taking another juicy bite of the apple, a mischievous glint appears in his eyes,
”while you two are digging up the scandal on the delightful Anne, I know that the Dowager Queen Mary also despises the Boleyn slut, I should make my introductions to Mary, while the dullard Brandon is absent”, He grins,
”I can speak to Mary and pump her for all the information she has”
Elizabeth’s mouth drops as fury clouds her face………..

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Elizabeth Seymour

Elizabeth looks at Edward then at Thomas in astonishment. She tries to control her anger for his sexual appetite could not only destroy all their plans but also their family.

” THOMAS! You must heed Edward’s words. You will create a scandal if you go sniffing around the King’s sister like a bitch in heat. You could also be the ruin to our family just as it seems our fortunes may change. I was too hasty, Edward is right again. Let Jane’s natural sweet demur attract the King while she is with him at Westhorpe. We may owe our future to the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk.” She bites into the ruby apple with vigor for she did not break her fast this morrow. Elizabeth imagines Jane with the King, charming him with her angelic voice and soothing ways. How lucky they were when the Duchess fell from her horse here and Jane attended her so well that she became friends. It had to be an omen from God. She spears some cheese for the peacock looks greasy and makes a mental note to address this with the cook.

” Sir Thomas Seymour,” I say his name sternly as he pets his favorite dog, Norfolk. If you ruin Jane’s chances I will slit your throat myself! There has been enough scandal associated with us thanks to father. I am sorry Edward for bringing that up but Thomas MUST see that his lusty appetite could destroy us all. Tell him Edward! ” Elizabeth sighs in disgust.

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Edward Seymour

”Do not worry, little sister. Thomas knows better than to mess with our coming fortunes despite his constant jokes. Besides, the King would destroy him thoroughly and leave the rest to Brandon…which wouldn’t be much.” In a rare show of amusement, the elder Seymour smirks slowly at his siblings, reaching for a pitcher of wine and soon pouring the fruity contents into his crystal goblet. ”I will write to our sister afterwards to ask of her position. Once we bring her to court, we all must abstain from any scandal. Thanks to the Boleyn’s Howard connections, they will have a number of spies in their hands.” Edward eyes his brother especially. ”That mostly means you, brother. Not even a slight smudge must fall upon your name. Understood?.”

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Thomas Seymour

Sitting up in the chair, Thomas raises his arms above his head in a luxurious stretch, the chastisement of his siblings flies past him and. evaporates in the fire behind.
Sniffing slightly, he examines a small piece of peacock on his plate. Holding it to the light he looks at the morsel with feigned puzzlement and interest, to show his brother and sister how much their words have affected him. Shrugging his shoulders he looks down at Norfolk. The Spaniels piercing amber eyes dart between Thomas’ face and the piece of meat between his fingers. For once, a genuine smile of affection splits Thomas’ tanned and whispered face, Norfolk’s loyalty is true, unquestioning and without condition.
’If only life, especially court life, could be so simple’, he mused
The Spaniel snapped his gaze from the meat, back to his masters face, simultaneously placing a paw on his masters thigh he licks his lips and snaps his head back to the meat.
Chuckling, Thomas throws the meat to the end of the hall, Norfolk was at a sprint before the meat had left his hand, becoming a small dark brown blur of muscle and speed.
Thomas’ grin grew even more when he saw the predictable fury cloud Elizabeth’s face at his actions.
”I can’t help it, my siblings, if risk and danger are aphrodisiacs in my amorous affairs. Their thrill is as sweet as this beautiful wine we have before us”
Taking a delicious mouthful of the wine from his tankard, he glances to his brother and sister,
”Relax both of you”, he admonished as he lowered the wine, ” for all my passions run high, especially with ladies of royal descent, I will not allow my nether regions to hinder our advancement in the Royal Court”, his smile creased his face again,
”But, I would still like to crush that whelp Brandon in the tiltyard or in a wrestling bout! Just because he is so bloody stupid !!!”
Placing his feet back onto the table once more, he ignores Elizabeth’s look of fury as Norfolk scampers back and rests his chin on Thomas’ leg………..

 

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Written By : Thomas Seymour UK Z, Edward Seymour UK Z, and Elizabeth Seymour UK Z

Bed Warmers Await… (UK Court)

July 13, 2014 in News, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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The sound of the horses hooves on the dirt road is tedious. The royal banners flutter in the wind as the king’s riding household make their way back to court. There is quiet jesting between the riders, a murmur of conversation that the king takes no part of. He is deep in thought, pensive even. Dare he hope that his heir, even now, waits to be born? So many hopes, so many disappointments, so many missed opportunities. His mind reflects back to the previous evening, and a breath of spring, and hope, and life. A return to the innocence, the purity, of times past. He had walked with a young woman who did not try to ensnare him in lust or enflame his desires. Mistress Jane Seymour, he smiles, remembering the blush on her cheeks and the tentative hand on his arm.

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King Henry VIII:

As Greenwich nears, I say, ”Yes. I must speak to Cromwell about the road ahead.”

Francis Bryan, startled from his own reverie, looks at me questioningly. He dare not ask the me as king to repeat himself, and yet, to misunderstand me, or answer unsatisfactorily is something a courtier should never do. Seeing my man’s discomfort, I laugh.”Get me Cromwell, Sir Francis. I would see him immediately.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell: 

I pour me a goblet of wine, and sit by the fire in mine office. My bones, they be weary. For near a fortnight, my arse has been on a horse, riding from abbey to monastery to nunnery, laying the ground for the men that shall tear these hell holes asunder. I admit it. No longer do I long for the adventures I did as a lad, traveling from port to town, from town to city, from city to yet another realm. O Lord, I be too damn old. Do Help me find an advantageous match for Gregory, but forget a wife for me. I’d screw the village wench if I could get clear of His Majesty’s nose. I need no women naggin’ at me. His Majesty and the Lords hound well enough. A bed warmer for release of mine seed when the mood strikes be all I want or need.

His Majesty is out ridin’ with the Seymour girl, a pretty and sweet lass she is me thinks. I recall the lady as a child at WulfhalI. I was attending to Lord Seymour’s legal entanglements, engrossed in his books in the study. I looked up, and there be this wee one, quiet as a monk at Sunday mass. Tears did stream down her little cheeks, her lips a’quiver. The more brazen younger son, he came running in after her like a fox towards a sheep. I stood up, and spoke as gruff as the rogue born I be. ”Enough boy! Leave the child or you be dealin’ with Lord Seymour and his riding whip.” The lad stopped cold, and I waved him leave.

Once gone, I looked over and winked at the little urchin. ”Lady Jane… go find your mum, love. Be off with you, pretty lass.” Off she scampered, smiling in triumph.

Aye, yes. Lady Jane would make His Majesty a fine queen. A docile little flower, she will bloom and abide him unquestioning. O Lord make it so, I do pray. Find me a way to be rid of the Queen. The arrogant Bullen gives His Majesty an aching head and wants mine smitten.

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Sir Francis Bryan:

Following His Majesties orders at once, I leave to perform my duties. I ride ahead at a quick pace, the horses hooves clamping hard on the road as they neared Greenwich. With great efficiency, I ride into the courtyard and climbed down, letting the groom take his horse. As I entered the palace, I gave a few acknowledging nods to a few courtiers and ladies and continued on to Cromwell’s apartments. Arriving promptly, I wait to be announced to the King’s Chancellor.

Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

The fire and wine easing my way, I begin dozing with sweet dreams of the Lady Worcester’s full duckies. Ahhhhh, they be a nice handful. ”Secretary Cromwell, I announce Sir Francis Bryan! ….. Secretary Cromwell…. Secretary Cromwell… ’tis urgent. Sir Francis Bryan be here by command of the King!”

I awaken and shake the erotic humors out of mine head and cod. What the bloody hell does the King want of me now? And why does he send the Vicar of Hell to mine offices? His Majesty, he desires to torment me. I’d rather be dealing with the dog Norfolk than that one eyed man-whore. I rise and stand behind mine desk, my parchments tidied and neatly organized. ”Do allow the good man entry, lad. He brings the King’s business.”

In struts the Vicar, puffed full of himself in the latest fashion. I smile broadly, bow deeply and remove mine hat. Commoner, I play the part…. but he knows, and he knows it well. I be the King’s man, not any Lord in this court. I may bend, but he must kneel.

”Sir Francis… what a delightful honor. Do have a seat good man, and I’ll pour you some sweet wine.” Just to nudge his ego in check, I add.. ” ’Tis a fine blend, a gift from the Imperial Ambassador.”

Sir Francis Bryan:

I enter the apartment’s of Secretary Cromwell and bow stiffly. I try to keep my dislike of the man supressed as I am only here for a quick mission but how can anyone not display such hatred for this low creature who dares to rule us all through the King. Though I seek to gain the benefits of serving His Majesty, I know better than to try to subtly control him. Those who do will only end up like Wolsey who had the luck of dying before he could meet the Executioner’s Kiss.

”Thank you but I will have to pass, Master Secretary. The King has sent me with an urgent summons for you and I do not wish to keep him waiting. He is currently making his way to the Palace as we speak but I believe he perfers you meet him upon the road. He is about a mile away with his entourage.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

ben miles ralph sadlerOh, Lord above, this is just too good. The Vicar is now His Majesty’s footman. I place the pitcher of wine back on my desk, and look to the Vicar smiling broadly. ”Well it must be urgent indeed to solicit your services rather than send along his page, m’lord. Feel free to pour yourself a goblet of the Imperial Ambassador’s Chianti while I venture out to the King.”

I look over to dearest Ralph Sadler, who brings me my cape. As I drape it over my shoulders, I say to my most trusted servant, ”Ralph, pour Sir Francis some wine. He be parched from his travels. Do watch the parchments carefully, good man. ’Tis for His Majesty’s eyes, no one else’s.” Ralph snickers and nods, the message to the Vicar clear.

Well I praise God evil looks can’t kill a man, as the glare from the Vicar speaks louder than the priest at the pulpit. I bow in mocked deference, ”Good day, Sir Frances. Mayhaps we will break bread and wine some eve, soon, eh?”

I leave mine office before the dog can answer, sending a page along to the stables. Upon venturing out of doors, a groomsman and my ink black steed awaits. Mine horse Spades be 16 hands high, as fine as any His Majesty rides. Oh did the King laugh heartily when a done admitted I won my magnificent steed in a bet. Spades be a spirited horse, but quick and steady. I suffer his malcontent nature and he mine. We be a good pair.

I ride on out and curse the damn Vicar. Just up the road? I done just about rode straight out to Suffolk, and there be no King in mine sights. I hope the man-whore choked on the Chianti, the damn fool. Finally around the bend, I see His Majesty and his entourage. He catches sight of me and waves me over.

King Henry VIII:

”Well met Master Secretary! I have a bit of business I would discuss with you before I attend the Queen and enjoy a rest.”

I wave to my retainers, who all feel that matters handled by Cromwell are below their station, ”Norris! You all may return to the palace without me. I would linger here a moment.”

As I watch their procession go on ahead, I turn to Master Secretary, and not for the first time do I notice the disdain they feel for him. This pleases me somewhat. I know he is loyal to none but me. ”Master Cromwell, do tell me, have we any offices that need filling, or lands that can be dispensed in my gift? I have spent time recently with Edward Seymour. The man impresses with his wit, and his record speaks of good service. I am of a mind to advance him.”

I spur my horse gently, resuming my progress, and leaving Cromwell a moment to run through the ledgers in his mind, that he may proceed satisfactorily. The man works quickly, and his mind never rests, ”And I feel that he should be better housed when at court. The Seymours are an old family, and have proven loyal.”

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Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

Norris, I am losing my patience with the man. The Lords in this court be of weak mind for all their blue blood, but he worries me. Norris has the His Majesty’s ear, all in exchange for wiping the King’s arse. Best he do his job well, as I am left to kiss it.

Mine spies do say His Majesty’s eye for the Lady Jane grows with each passing day. I smile broadly at the thought. The Bullens, they had strong competition now it seems. Lord Seymour’s oldest son is bright indeed. I think a second and the obvious comes to me. ”Your Majesty, the young man is strong of will, bright of mind and quick of wit. The peerages of Beauchamp and Hertford are both dormant, Your Grace. Perhaps he can prove his armor as Viscount and if loyal and efficient be raised to Earl?”

King Henry VIII:

”Very Good Cromwell, see that the papers are drawn.”

I glance down at the well shaped head of Master Secretary’s steed,”You should see my Master of horse, I believe your fortunate wager could use new tack. He fleshes out somewhat, like his rider I think.”

Chuckling, I turn my head to study the sky.”Might it rain d’you think? And pray tell, have you any thought as to where we can house the new viscount?”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

I laugh heartily at the King’s jab. He be quite a funny man. ”Aye, you speak truth, Your Grace. Thank you for your kindness in offering Sir Nicholas to help my steed. Does he have a poultice for me mayhaps?”

His Majesty smiles, shaking his head naught. ”Aye, perhaps an elixir for the apothecary is in order. Mine flanks grow with each hearty pudding. Do let me ponder a moment.”

King Henry waves his hand impatiently. No matter, I always have a plan, and this time one that serves both me and His Majesty well. I can be out from under his foot, and he can have his Seymour prize with no one else the wiser. A jolly bed warmer will keep me away from the sweets. The Lady Worcester, mayhaps?

I look up at the sky, darkening clouds approaching. ”Aye… rain be comin’ in. The crops done need, so a blessing.” I pause. ”Majesty, the finest chambers at court are all occupied. It pains me to suggest this, as you know mine loyalty to you in all things, but I see no other course. If you can spare me a mite, I can lodge at my home at Austin Friars and Seymour and his family may have mine chambers. I can keep a man outside your inner chamber doors to summons me if need be.”

I look to King Henry sheepishly. O Lord God, please… I need respite and both His Grace and I need a lay.

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King Henry VIII:

The reason I employ Master Cromwell is that I need never explain myself to him, nor repeat myself, both of which chafe at me with other men. ”Master Secretary, you know that I am quite asea without you, however, I feel it meet that we should not give with only one hand to Edward Seymour by giving him inferior lodging. Very well, as long as you are willing, and I have the services of young Master Sadler to carry my messages to you, I feel you have struck upon a most satisfactory solution. As always, sir, you never disappoint.” I note the expression on Cromwell’s face, he seems over satisfied with this arrangement. No doubt he longs for the comforts of his home. Now, the question I must ask before entering the palace, ”How does the Queen?”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

I pat Spades on the neck. My steed grows restless, and I reign him in a tad. ”Majesty, the Queen be in all her glory. Your heir must be a feisty lad indeed, as she grows in belly by the day.”

The King smiles broadly at the report, and I consider if I should add more. I decide mine best course is to do so, cautiously. I say sincerely as it be truth, ”Your Grace, I thank the Lord abundantly I do your bidding. Your benevolence be a blessing.”

I then add as in jest, ”Her Majesty? Me thinks she wants my head smitten. A mere woman she forgets for whom I work.”

There, I said it. Will he take the bait? Mayhaps not now, but the seed is sown.

King Henry VIII

The words are spoken as a jest, but the strain between my chief minister and my wife of late has not escaped my notice. I decide to ease his mind a bit.”Master Cromwell, if the day comes that your head needs smitten, you may be sure it is I who will do the smiting.”

Glancing up at the windows to the Queen’s rooms, I add,” And never fear, for the rages of a breeding woman are nothing of substance. Though I believe she would see my head on a spike beside your own some days.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell:

I nod in agreement. ”There be reason I remain a happy widower, Your Grace. I need nagging women not.” We both laugh lightly, partners in the shared sharp tongue of the Bullen wench.

The King’s words do comfort, I admit. A more honest and noble man there was never. I look to him and say humbly, ”Aye, Majesty, as God be my witness in all I do, I vow you will never have a more loyal servant, mine bidding for your best interest in all things. I laid bare all for the Cardinal to my own great risk as you well know. I need not friends nor allies, nor the Lord’s manipulations. Mine priorities go to you, mine God and his word as scripture defines.”

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King Henry VIII:

The mention of his former master is a rare one. Cromwell loved Wolsey as a father, as once did I. He conceals his pain when jests are made about ”The Scarlet Beast”, and I see what this mention here has cost him. In truth, I have never had a more dedicated servant than Cromwell. Would that my wife were so agreeable. ”Good man, I have had servants before who I thought to trust. One of them, the Cardinal, sought to establish his own kingdom within my realm. The second betrayed the most sincere affection and respect I held for him to bend the knee to the Bishop of Rome. But never have I been more sure of a man’s loyalty than I am with you.”

He nods modestly as I put spurs to my mount, goading him to run. ”Now I am off to see my most beloved Queen Anne, lest she beckon the headsman for us both! And see to the matters we have discussed post haste won’t you?” I call to him as I depart. He has not prodded Spades, perhaps he prefers to ride alone with his thoughts and his memories.

—– Fade To Black —–

A Garden of Promise, UK Court

June 2, 2014 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

 

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Henry is delighted with Jane at dinner. Her dulcet voice soothes him and is such a contrast to Anne’s sharp tongue. He lingers at the the table, taking his time as he spears into the juicy boar and game pies. The ruby wine smells like a bowl of berries and all the gold plates sparkle. He looks on favorably at his sister and Brandon and for a moment feels a pang of guilt for beimg so forceful with Mary. As the the meal ends he asks Lady Jane if she would like to accompany him on a walk to stretch their legs. Mary smiles and arches her eyebrows to Charles as he winks back with a smug expression and raises his goblet to Mary.

 

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Jane Seymour

My expression is calm and serene, but inside my stomach is all a flutter. The king offers me his arm as we leave the hall. I keep my eyes down and my look demure, a contrast to the flashy women of court. I do not wish to be another lady of the court- this will be my point of difference.

 

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King Henry

As they walk through the hall, heading towards the gardens of Westhrope Hall, He looks toward the young woman on his arm and wonders what would make the Seymours hide such a rare jewel in the remote countryside instead of having her flourish in his court. In such a short conversation, The King greatly appreciated the peace of a respectful, compliant woman and was sure that Mistress Seymour would be a shining example to many women of the court….especially his own wife, who emotional range of late has been entirely displeasing to him. Henry looks down on the young woman with interest and smiles lightly,”So tell me, Mistress Seymour, How is your father, Sir John, doing? It has been some time since I’ve seen him last.”

 

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Jane Seymour

”He has been quite busy at Wulf Hall, your Majesty, however he is in good health when I departed his home. I hope to return briefly to Wulf Hall before returning to Her Majesty’s service.” I speak clearly, eyes ahead as I feel the king’s eyes upon my face. I am concentrating on keeping my countenance steady, that I stumble slightly on uneven ground. The king’s strong arm keeps me steady as my body leans into his, my face flushes, I straighten quickly.”I am so sorry your Majesty, I must take more care in watching where I step.”I can feel my brothers approving looks all the way from Court. I however, just feel clumsy. A Boleyn girl I am not.

 

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King Henry

Her words give me pause, and I search her face for hidden meaning, but I find no coyness in her expression. I have grown too accustomed to those who say one thing but mean another, I find myself questioning what people really want of me as they flatter and flirt. What gift, what office, what judgement they think to win from me with their honeyed words and their sly smiles. I long for the old days, those heady days, Charles and I chivalrous, giants of the tilt yard.I once had the wise council of honest men, instead of factions who seek to play me against each other for their own gain. I miss the poignancy of youth, and the simplicity. I find myself growing bitter at the thought of the years wasted in battle with Kate, and the Pope, and the whole damn world. For what? I ask myself, of late I have questioned the reward.

But look, now I am here in this garden. And I find no serpent here. Only this sweet maid, with her shy glance, and her worried eyes. ”Peace, Mistress Jane. You have no need to fear. Of course you must seek the advice of your father. I would never do anything to dishonor you or offend Sir John, he has been a most loyal friend for many years.” As she turns back to the fountain, I gently take her arm again. ”Come Mistress, let us rejoin my sweet sister. I know she enjoys your company, and I fear I have stolen too much of your time.” I bow and brush a kiss across the back of her hand,”Forgive me.

 

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As we stroll back to join the others, I make note to speak to Cromwell. Edward Seymour is a good man, he has proven himself ready for advancement. A capable man, I will see that his loyalty is rewarded. Of Thomas Seymour I am less sure. He is not a man of serious countenance like his brother, but I am certain Master Secretary can find some way to make use of him. It is time I place fresh men around me, men who are still eager to prove their loyalty. I smile as I see the one man who I know could never betray me. As much as their marriage angered me, I can not deny the love between my best friend and my sister. They exchange a glance as I approach them. These two have been talking about me, no doubt. These two have known me and loved me for most of my life, and I them. I glance at Jane, sweet Jane, and wish I could whisk her back to the garden. But instead I say,”Thank you for the pleasure of your company, Mistress Jane.” I lean forward and murmur just for her hearing, ”Do ask Sir John about those sonnets, won’t you? I remain your devoted servant, and wait anxiously for his consideration.” I hear the sharp intake of her breath as I turn away, ”Charles! Sweet sister! What have you had your heads together about?”

 

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By King Henry UK and Jane Seymour UK Z

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The Angel at Westhorpe, UK Court

May 29, 2014 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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After getting his wife and their guest settled, Charles Brandon writes a missive to his friend and king, telling him the details of his sister’s accident and how he brought her back home safely. He explains to his Majesty that he wants to end the rift between brother and sister and wants to invite Henry to visit them for hunting and hawking. The forest is filled with dear, wild boar, partridges and pheasants. He also tells his king about a new bird of prey that he just acquired and wanted to show him his abilities. Brandon seals the missive and tells his messenger to ride with haste to deliver this to the king.

 

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Charles Brandon

I watch my groomsmen take off on his steed till I can no longer see him. I need to unite Mary with Henry again, this rift has torn our family apart. Never could I believe that Henry would threaten Mary with the execution of her own children. Could her fall have made her have false memories? I must discuss this with Henry, friend to friend. Will that woman cause all whom he has loved to perish? Anne would love nothing better then to destroy my friendship with Henry as much as she wants his own sister gone.  No one is safe, unless Mary knows her brother well enough and sweet Jane cam soothe his tortured soul again. I can only hope that Henry will accept my invitation.

I enter quickly into the house to check on my beloved Mary. My heart pounds with the thought that I could of lost her. I will always be in debt to the Seymours and shall do all I can to promote their favor in court. I gaze at my beautiful princess. She sleeps soundly but Jane is by her side again.

 

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I slowly approach Jane and whisper ”Jane, you are here as our guest, not as Mary’s nurse. Let her ladies attend to her.” I hand Jane a goblet of claret and lead her out of Mary’s room. Jane, my princess will be very unhappy if she awakens to find you not enjoying yourself. Come in to the library with me and I will tell you a secret.” I escort Jane and show her to a comfortable chair. ”Please make use of our library if it would please you.” I look into her blue eyes and speak my mind. ”The princess and the king had a nasty quarrel when Mary was leaving court. I fear she was thinking of her brother instead of watching the road and therefore fell. I have invited the king here in hopes of repairing the love between a brother and sister. If he accepts my offer, would you help me entertain his Majesty? We must also not say a word to Mary. She is Tudor through and through and she will not react as I hope if she knows in advance. What say you fair Jane, will you help me with this difficult task?”

 

 

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Jane Seymour

I take the claret reluctantly, as I am led out the door, turning back once last time to ensure the princess is still sleeping. Westhorpe slightly overwhelms me, Wulf Hall is considered a modest seat for a family at Henry’s court. As we enter the ornate library I sit before the duke, a composed demeanour across my features, as if I am at home in one of the finest estates in the land.

I nod as the situation is explained to me, confirming the gossip amongst the ladies at court. With the mention of a visit from the king, my heart skips a beat.”Your Grace, I am not sure I can keep such a secret from the princess. Will she be very angry with me once she knows? I do not wish to cause her more pain. You both have been very kind to me.” I look up at the duke’s handsome face, and some of my apprehensions melt away. Surely no one knows both these Tudors better than Charles Brandon.

 

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Charles Brandon

I pat Jane’s slender arm, ”Please do not worry yourself, Jane. If she becomes angry, it will only be at me and the king, her brother. Trust me, it will be better this way. You are doing another good deed, we are reuniting brother and sister. They have always had such love for each other. He loved her enough to let her marry me. He could have married her off to the Emperor Charles and instead, he kept his word and let her marry me, a mere knight with no royal blood. I love my princess and will not rest untill I see her smiling and happy again. I just want to remind the king and my princess of the love they still have for each other. How can I not put this wrong to right?” I see the troubled expression on her face clear and hope she see’s that this is what is best for Mary without letting her know that our objective is for Henry to take notice of Jane. I pray that Mary knows what she is doing and that this goes as she plans. Only a wicked woman would like to see brother and sister pulled apart, Anne is blight on this realm.

 

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”Would you let me show you some of the grounds while the princess sleeps? I’d like to be with her when she wakes up. But she would be most pleased to know that I am doing a good job as your host and that you enjoy yourself. Why don’t you have your ladies attend to you and we can all get some fresh air. I will show you the Tudor roses that planted myself. Their fragrance envelopes the air. Will you do me the honor of letting me take you and your ladies on a walk?”

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Jane Seymour

My fears are allayed at the duke’s words.”If it meant a reconciliation between brother and sister, I would be happy to assist. My own brothers and sisters mean so much to me.” Anne Boleyn has not a kind bone in her body and I wonder what bewitched the king in the first place. The image of the handsome king creeps into my thoughts whilst contemplating the restoration of familial harmony between brother and sister. I push this aside to consider later. I must write to my brother to inform him of these developments.

I stand and smile brightly at his Grace. “I would gladly accept your invitation. Your roses are much talked of and I do long to see their beauty myself. I hope that I do not distract you from more pressing concerns?”

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Charles Brandon

”My only concern now is to follow my wife’s wishes as well as my own. I shall have the kitchen help pack some refreshments and we can all enjoy a small picnic. When we return you can tell Mary all about it and then I will hopefully have made you and her happy. You can also tell me any ideas you may have so we can entertain the king if he accepts my invitation. Now go get your ladies and I will be delighted to meet you all in the first courtyard.” I smile at Jane as she takes her leave and tell my orders to be relayed to the cooks and helpers in the kitchen as I make ready for our outing.

 

King Henry VIII

Charles,

I am grateful that you have informed me of the recent events hitherto unknown to me and detailed them so thoroughly. It is apparent to me I must make the journey and shall do so forthwith with all possible haste. I do so hope Mary is doing well and in good spirits. Though I had planned on getting together for some time that we may have some good sport, I had wished it would be under more fortunate circumstances. Nevertheless, if Mary is willing to set aside her feelings of hostility against Anne and I for good, I shall gladly play my part and acquiesce.

I shall see you both very soon. Prepare well, for I expect to bag some formidable game indeed! ….HR

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

It has been over a week that Jane has been here and I have been enjoying her company feeling stronger every day. I smile as I think of Charles escorting her and her women everywhere. It has been amusing watchimg him deal with what are usually my responsibilities. I shiver a little and warm my hands by the fire when I hear his footsteps and I look up.

”How is my knight? Instead of slaying dragons you have been occupying the ladies as their hostess.” he kisses me tenderly and shows me the smile that I love so much. ”Tell me, I can see you are bursting to tell me something. Did you hear from Henry?” My heart pounds at the thought of my brother but I try to block all the ugly memories of our last encounter. I can hide my true feelings if their is hope that he takes another mistress and becomes more distant from Anne. Unless he has turned Charles down.

 

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Charles Brandon

I look into the grey eyes of my beautiful princess, she shivers so I lay a quilt on her and move her silky hair behind her ear as I tenderly kiss her sweet lips. She smells of roses, and something exotic too, almost oriental. It is intoxicating. I would love nothing more then to carry her to our chambers and make love to her all day and night but she must rest and get stronger. She knows me so well, a simple smile reveals all to her. I pour her a goblet of claret and make sure she drinks the ruby wine that will give her warmth.

”You laugh at your husband, the great warrior and master of the joust?” I reply with amusement. “I have learned all the latest styles from France and which male courtiers are the most desirable for looks and peerage. How can I live without knowing thus information. Jane is a delight, the polar opposite of the Boleyn woman. She has many pleasing ways and would be more like Katherine in disposition but it is hard to gauge Henry’s passion for Anne at the moment. She always manages to relight a fire in him.” I cannot help but smile looking at her beautiful face and caress her cheek and rub her hands to warm her.

I try to sound more somber, ”I have received a missive from the king and he has accepted my invitation. But Mary, keep your temper in check for you must accept and be gracious about Anne Boleyn. If you start another quarrel then he will leave without having met Mistress Seymour. Remember this is your idea, I feel you might be correct that seeing the virtues in a woman such as Jane Seymour that Anne may look more the shrew and undignified. But this shall only work if you are loving and gracious. Can you do that my love? I do not want you to suffer but it is the only way.” Mary gives me her assurances that she can do anything if it will help to bring Anne down.

”That’s my princess, I do not want you to stress but I must leave your side to get the staff and estate ready for the king’s visit. We must show him a good time and his main reason for coming is to hunt, so I will plan hunting parties and entertainments that will put Henry in a good mood.” I kiss her brow and Cupid lips as I leave my wife to make all preparations for his Majesty’s visit.

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

I cannot help but laugh at my husband, “Next you will be looking through bolts of fabrics while you help style all the ladies’ gowns.” I sip on the wine and listen as Charles speaks of my brother. I bite my lip to try and hold back my tears. Maybe this was a bad mistake, seeing him will bring back the look on his face when Cromwell threatened my children. How could he! His own nieces and nephew, who are no threat to him. Yet he bestows many honors on Margaret’s daughter, Margaret. Lucky for my sister not having to be a part of this. Though she and Arthur were the one’s who shared a special bond. What kind of king and man would Arthur have been? Twas him who our father loved best and prepared to rule after him. It was Henry and myself who were close, we loved so many similar things, he was my hero and now our relationship has turned to this. If Mistress Seymour does not catch his eye then I think it would be best for our family to move to France and live under Françoise’s protection.

 

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I smile wanly at Charles ”Trust me Charles, I need no lessons in learning the consequences of the king’s displeasure. He will bring anyone down, look how he has treated his own daughter? I believe she would be in danger of being executed. Mother would never believe that happy Harry could have become such a man. I will hold my tongue and pretend that I am overjoyed by his visit and his forgiveness. Do not think me foolish enough to risk neither yours or our children’s well being. I will pray that Lady Jane keeps the king entertained since I must still recover from my fall. You can let him beat you at everything and that will make him in the best of moods.”

I shiver as Charles kisses me to take his leave and prepare for his Majesty’s arrival. This talk has made me weary and I feel the need for the oblivion of sleep. ”Do not concern yourself with me Charles, I have an army of staff to attend to my needs. I think I might even try to sleep. Do what you must my love. I will see you when you are finished.”

 

 

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Jane Seymour

The days fly by at Westhorpe. I spend the mornings with the duchess, ensuring she improves and my prayers are daily answered. The duke is attentive, ensuring that I am well entertained as Mary rests. We walk, we ride, we hunt. I feel so happy here and dread the day when I must return to serve the Boleyn queen.

Then His Grace informs me that the king has accepted his invitation. I write to my brothers Edward and Thomas about the impending visit. I know they will be pleased and can speculate their replies to be enchanting and do my all to capture the Kings attention, nay, his imagination. I have butterflies in my stomach. There being but a small party, he cannot help but to acknowledge my presence. But further than that? I am not a Boleyn girl. I do not have the sparkle to enchant. I will but be myself. I am not disliked here, Both the duke and his duchess are so attentive! How I wish for my sister Elizabeth and her wisdom. I prepare best I can, focusing on assisting the Duchess, who I know I can help and forget for the moment the wishes of my beloved brothers.

 

King Henry VIII

The sound of clicking hoofs grew louder as the king and his hunting entourage approached Westhorpe Hall, the Brandon home. Eager for his arrival, Henry sent a messenger ahead to notify its duke, While he sat at the head of his group. It was nice to get away from the hassles of court life and a good hunt with his best friend and newly tamed sister would do wonders for his mood. Yes, Finally, he could have a decent conversation with his sister that did not end up with a blow up of Tudor tempers. Anne was his queen now, nothing and no one would change that. It was to be accepted by all. Those who refused would suffer the dire consequences without remorse.

 

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Charles Brandon

I look across the Courtyard, anxious to spot the arrival of Henry, despite being an honour for Henry to visit my home, I have the seeds of certain plans that I wish to plant in my friends mind.
A lone rider enters our courtyard, on spying the Royal Crest, I realise what is taking place….Henry is close! I shout to Harold to assemble six of my men and as I shout for the groom to tack Hermes, my black palfrey, the messenger canters towards me – before he finishes his first word I raise my hand, ”The king is close, I understand,” I frown, ”Where exactly is he?”. The messenger is a little taken aback and I feel an irrational knit my brow, ”I will escort him myself with my own men”. I snarl, waving my hand to the border reivers and hobelars who serve me without question. The messenger blanches at the ferocious and unruly sight of the horse soldiers, who manouver their horses behind me glaring at the royal messenger.  The messenger stammers the directions to Henry’s last location as he keeps glancing nervously at the six silent soldiers bristling with blades and bows. I turn to Marcus, my steward, ”Tell the ladies that Henry is close and I am going to meet him”, Marcus nods and walks to the house. The groom leads the gleaming black palfrey to my side, leaping onto his saddle I check the ground is soft and go straight into canter. Two of my men ride beside me, the other four riding in pairs behind me, as we begin to gallop. I lean into forward seat and relish the air blowing onto my face, the smooth beauty and rhythm of the muscular animal beneath me, always causes a grin to spread across my face and exhilaration as blood speeds through my body. Gently shortening the left reign and the slightest pressure with my right leg, Hermes wheels to the right, my grin spreads further as I glance at my riders next to me, who have manoeuvred in perfect formation. Looking ahead, I view the royal party, slowly pulling back on the reins, Bess reluctantly slows, her natural desire for speed only tempered by her faithful devotion to me. Several of Henry’s men begin to move their mounts, believing we will smash into them due to our speed, I steal a look at my flanking riders, they both have sly smiles across their unshaven faces, they enjoy this more than I – especially intimidating royal troops!

 

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Coming to a halt a short distance from Henry, some of his troops fearfully ride a short distance away, Hermes jogs and prances on the spot, his nostrils flaring, steam bellowing from his snorts. Reaching down I stroke his neck, which is damp with sweat, whispering and shushing as he settles. I look to Henry, bowing my head, on looking up I grin, ”Majesty” and lean forward to take his hand. Seeing his dark expression I turn to my riders and frown, thick accents sound ”My Liege”,”My King” and ”Majesty”. ”Six of my best, Majesty, the finest horse soldiers from the far corners of your realms” I smile to my friend, ”We have everything prepared for you, food, wine, entertainment and some activities both indoors and outside” I turn Hermes and Henry joins me at my side, we slowly progress to Westhorpe, deep in conversation, but glancing around me I notice the wary glances the troops are giving my chosen men.

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

I have been sitting quietly with my ladies and Mistress Seymour sewing, I have been making a shirt for Charles and now was embroidering it with gold thread. The chambermaid places some more logs on the fire to make the room more comfortable. New rushes of straw, mint, lavender, and roses have been spread out everywhere in Westhorpe and every room has been filled with colorful, fragrant flowers, in ornate silver vessels. I made sure Henry’s chambers have been furnished and filled with his favorite tapestries,and laid out luxurious furs. As I tackled the emblem on Charles’s shirt, his steward bowed, to speak to me “Your Grace, his Grace has asked me to inform you that he can see the king’s party and that they shall shortly be here.” I stand up and smile ”Thank you Marcus, you may inform his Grace that all shall be ready.” My ladies startled whispering in excitement and I asked my chambermaid to tell the kitchen to lay out the food and best claret on gold platters as soon as his Majesty arrives. the mistrals were playing their lutes in anticipation. I look to my ladies, ”Let us all prepare for his Majesty.” I walk up to Mistress Seymour and whisper in her ear ”Jane, there is a new gown waiting for you in your room. It is my way of thanking you for all the care you have given me. Please go and put it on for the king’s arrival, I will have one of the mistresses do your hair. We all want to look our best”. With that I followed the ladies to my chambers to wash up and change so that perhaps Henry would recall the love we had shared as brother and sister before the Boleyn woman influenced all his actions. But if I am right in my knowledge of my brother, things may be changing for his so called queen. Mistress Jane is everything that Anne is not and he will be pleased with her soothing ways. Time will only tell if the Boleyn spell will be broken.

 

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Jane Seymour

I nod with a smile and thank her Grace and rush to my rooms to change. I find a beautiful gown of pale green velvet accentuated with fine embroidery worked across the gown and finished with pearls sewn into the bodice. It is a beautiful gown, the most sumptuous creation I have ever worn. I allow the chatter of the ladies to wash over me as they tightly lace the bodice and compose myself. I will not allow my shyness to overcome me, I have been in the presence of the king before. I direct the girl styling my hair to use the English gable hood – not the hood favoured by the French and the Boleyn’s.

The ladies gush as my preparations are completed. I thank them for their kind attentions as they show me my reflection in her Grace’s precious looking glass before they make haste to their own chambers to prepare. I take a deep breath and join the duchess of Suffolk in front of the manor, with the thunder of hooves marking the arrival of the king.

 

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King Henry VIII

Henry nods as Charles and his party ride up to meet him. ”Ah, thank you, Charles. I have been looking for an escape for weeks.”, The king chuckles as he continues, ”I look forward to seeing what you have in store for me. How is your family doing and the word on my sister’s condition?” Henry directs his palfrey into a light trot as they continued towards Westhorpe Hall.

 

Charles Brandon

My friend’s mention of Mary’s injury reminds me of the animosity I held for him at the time, despite my affection for my friend and my loyalty to my king, I feel the anger rise within me again.
Looking away from Henry, I let my eyes settle on two rabbits scurrying around the crops nearby, I muse what sport we could have had if the dogs hand come with us. That light thought has vented the little anger that had started to bubble within me and I turn to look at my friend. ”Your sister is made from tough material, Sire” I glance at him, my eyebrows raising, ”She may be an elegant and beautiful lady, but she has the heart and the spirit of the Tudors, no trifling injury would defeat her! The injury would be too scared to harm her!” My lighthearted manner conceals my true emotions when I learnt of my darling’s trauma. ”Quite by chance”, I say in an off hand manner, ”we have the lady who cared for her staying at Westhorpe as a guest, it was our small way of showing gratitude for her help” I lean to Henry, looking conspiratorial and lowering my voice, ”In fact Sire, I think you will find her presence will only add to the enjoyment we shall have over these next few days, even if it is only by the brightness of her smile” I grin at Henry as we wheel into Westhorpe, stable boys and grooms swarm around under the expert directions of Marcus, my soldiers trot off to their stables and combined quarters. Waiting for Henry as he dismounts I extend my arm gesturing to Westhorpe, and walk with Henry into the spacious entrance hall. Mary and Jane stand ahead of our staff to greet our king, Mary catches my eye and her glance has a mischievous gleam, after her formal welcome she greets her brother with fondness and presents Jane.

 

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Jane Seymour

I drop into a curtsey as I am presented to the king. I colour slightly as the duchess speaks warmly of my good deeds in caring for her. As I rise my eyes meet the king’s. I am momentarily startled as the king’s quizzical gaze is focused on me. I unconsciously hold my breath and quickly look down at the hem of my skirt. I do not take in what the king is saying as he takes my hand in his and kisses it. I feel his fingers linger on my palm, and I venture a glance from beneath my lashes and I find myself once again meeting his gaze. I quickly come to my senses as his lips stop moving and it is my turn to speak. I smile and thank him majesty for his kind words and praise my hosts warmly. The duchess speaks again and I inwardly admonish myself for not holding on to my senses. I have been in the presence of the king on many occasions and do not know why this time is different. Perhaps it was having is attention trained solely on myself, and his touch upon my palm.

 

Mary Rose Tudor

I look at my brother and try to forget Cromwell’s words about executing my family if I did not sign the oath. My head starts to pound with the memory. He did not threaten More’s family yet he threatened mine. Why not just threaten me alone? I remove all thoughts and paste a smile on my face. Westhorpe looks wonderful, all the wood has been polished and glows. The fires are lit and the warmth from the embers holds off the slight chill in the air. New rushes have been laid which fragrance the rooms with the scents of mint, lavender, roses and rosemary. The candles flicker off the silver vessels filled with Tudor roses and the stained glass has been cleaned so that shards of beautiful colors dance off the walls when the light outside hits it. I saw to Henry’s chambers myself. The tapestries are all made with the finest gold and silver threads. The sumptious fabrics all imported from Italy, silks, velvets and brocades. He would not find better accommodations at any of his palaces. I paste a smile on my face and go to kiss Henry on each cheek.

 

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”Welcome dearest brother” I nod for the servants to fill the silver chalices with our best claret and to bring out the gold platters of wild boar, venison, game pies, pungent cheeses, warm, crispy bread, cherries, wild strawberries, and juicy red apples. My cooks have made custards, marchpane, and assorted cakes.” I hope your journey fared well Henry, Charles and I are delighted to have you. Please have a seat and partake in some refreshments. I know you must be parched and famished from your journey. As you can see I am mended thanks to the careful healing hands of Mistress Seymour.” I take her hand, and smile admiring her beautiful gown. She looks like an angel sent from the heavens. ”Please join us Mistress Seymour, I am sure his Majesty would love to hear of the good care I received from you and your family. Charles and I have planned many diversions for you and wish nothing more for you to relax and enjoy yourself away from the stress of court. ”

King Henry VIII

As Henry strides into Westhorpe with the duke chuckling by his side, a most charming creature is brought before him. Not by her looks or deeds, as his sister goes on to describe, makes her so curious to him. It is the genuine modesty in her curtsey, the way she lowers her eyes and her adorable blush as he kisses her hand. Mistress Seymour… ah, she cannot be kin to the wild and stern Seymour brothers. Even those two were as different as night and day but still they had that Seymour charm… just like this one even if she wasn’t aware of it. What a surprise. Henry genuinely smiled as he bent low to kiss the girl’s hand. ”Mistress Seymour. I am ever grateful for your services to my dear sister, who I am glad to see is most recovered in body and temperament. I must think of some way to repay your great kindness.” Henry walks over to his sister, kissing her cheeks and smiling at her words. A twinkle in his eye, giving a hint of amusement. ”Very well, dearest Mary. I am most sure that with you and Charles combine I will not fail to be entertained. Alas, court drives me weary and the presence of family and a newcomer will surely give me good cheer. I look forward to hearing the tale of your need of saving and Mistress Seymour’s heroics indeed.” The king seemed to be quite pleased at these turn of events as he entered the dining hall on the arm of his sister.

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Mary Tudor Brandon

Mary listens to her brother act as if nothing had ever transpired between them. He threatens his own daughter, why would he not threaten Mary’s children? She had been acting her entire life except when she was home with Charles and her beloved children. She preferred her life at Westhorpe then any court. Mary took Henry’s arm and led him into the dining hall where the feast was laid out. Mary took a long sip of the ruby, fruity wine. She would need a lot of wine to get through his visit.” Mistress Seymour, you must sit with us. The king will know of the angel that rescued his sister. Henry, I was thrown from my mare into rocks. My head was hit hard but Jane and her family took such care of me that I was able to quickly recuperate. There are no jewels that can repay the kindness that was shown to me. Is that not correct Charles?” Charles has planned many activities for you. You must tell Henry just a little of what you planned.” She smiled as she looked at Charles. Her entire face expressed her love for her husband.

 

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Charles Brandon

The frisson that softly charged the air between Henry and Jane had not only amused me, but gave me a warm feeling of satisfaction. The knowledge that my Mary and I had distracted my friends thoughts away from the Boleyn whore, gave me a contented glow, that outshone the comforting warmth of the candles and fire in our dining room. As we sat at the dining table my mouth was already eager to taste the succulent meats that lay before us, hare with it’s ears crisped ready to crackle in our mouths, succulent peacock from our estate, that had been hung for twenty one days, beckoned me with it’s mouthwatering aromas. Another aroma of sliced and matured venison competed with the lightly spiced aromas of tender mouthwatering roasted beef and a roast chicken, the chicken sat tempting our mouths with it’s crispy texture, which hid tasty white meat. Warm fragrant breads added to the orchestra of delights and on sipping the wine, I drank deeply as I realised Mary had ordered the staff to uncork the best ruby red from France. I had steered my mind to a marvellous evening which I would hope to continue in our bed chamber after the evening had concluded, my eyes scanned across Mary’s beauty, my eyes locking with hers and thought how that part of the evening would be the most pleasurable.

Without warning, the air chilled, a million insects crawled along my spine and my knuckles turned white as I unconsciously gripped my goblet. ”Thrown… mare…. head… rocks” the words came from her own beautiful mouth and crashed into my mind with sickening agony. My thoughts replayed the torment of the desperate ride to be with her, having heard the news, the silence of my troops as we rode at speeds that were driven by the black demons of fear and despair. The empty cavern in my stomach as I raced to her room, forcing the smile on my face as I saw her dark circled eyes, matted hair and sickly pallor. I must have made a movement or sound, for Mary admonished me with her eyes and used them to gesture to Henry. I lessened my grip on the goblet and took a long drink, as my mouth had dried. Swallowing, I felt the friendly warming glow as the liquid caressed my tongue.”It’s true Majesty” I smiled, ”For all that we love you as our family, friend and king, this great feast and the merriment of the next days, are in honour to the angelic thoughts and deeds of Lady Jane” my eyes twinkled as I turn to her and raised my goblet, ”However, I hope the pursuits of the next few days are enjoyable to both of you”, I sip some more wine, ”To name but a few events, as I know I will forget some, we have hunting, hawking, archery, riding, tennis and racing on our estate. All these will be accompanied with food, wine and ale. Whether these are brought to us or we return to Westhorpe, you can decide on the day. I pause, trying to collect my thoughts, ”If the weather keeps us indoors we have two minstrels and a bard to entertain us, whether it be day or evening. What els…?” I pause, stroking the stubble that had grown on my face throughout the day, If wind, rain or even snow become inclement, the cockpit is covered to protect us from the elements. Our games room has many activities, chess, draughts, cards even skittles, we also have a small library. I turn to Jane smiling, ”So our days will be as full or empty as you wish, however m’lady, my spies have informed me that you can sing like an angel, which is not surprising given your angelic ministrations, I hope you will offer us your voice on at least one occasion. But I am prattling too much and I can see”, I turn to look at Henry, ”our sovereign lord is eyeing the venison!” The smile that creases my face shows my happiness at the gathering, but I know Mary can feel my thoughts, dark and torturous images, thoughts, feelings and memories have re-emerged at her own mention of her accident. Not my treacherous hatred and treasonous thoughts concerning Henry, but the utter despair of loosing my princess, all I wanted to do was throw the table aside, carry her in my arms and never let her go!

 

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Jane Seymour

The feast was nothing I had ever seen outside of court – certainly nothing this grand had ever sat on a Seymour table. I was encouraged to taste each delicious morsel until I could feel the boning of my corset dig into my skin. The king pressed me for details of how I cared for his sister and was effusive of his praise until my cheeks burned.

”Your Majesty is too kind with your praise – I have done nothing extraordinary, merely what any good Christian would do in the same circumstances.” I smile warmly in Mary’s direction. She is talking animatedly to her beloved husband, I turn back to the king, who holds my gaze intently before I drop my eyes toward my cup and reach for it. ”Her Grace was an exemplary patient and has mended quickly, it was an honour to care for her.” I peek up at the king who’s gaze has not wavered. The attention is not something I am accustomed to. One of the serving staff attends to my plate and refreshes my wine.

The duke of Suffolk exclaims that tomorrow will be a fine day to hunt, I murmur my asset along with the rest of the party and the conversation turns to stories of previous hunting parties. I take this opportunity to sit back and watch the old friends relieve great hunting moments and take stock of the evening. King Henry has been attentive, but I remain unconvinced it is anything more than appreciation for caring for his sister. He looks my way during a rendition of a stag hunt and I smile prettily and lean forward attentively.

 

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King Henry VIII

Henry deeply satisfied with the outcome of his visit, nods approvingly at attentions of his sister and most loyal friend. Cutting into the vension after Charles’ jest, he smiles lightly, ”Indeed, You have provided a most pleasing table, Your Graces. I definitely look forward to the further activities that you have planned. I hope we may get an early start on Hunt on the morrow.”
He almost immediately turns his attentions back to the intriguing Mistress Seymour, his ear hanging on every word of her heroic account. How wide the comparison between her and his temptseous wife was. At first, Anne’s vivacity and boldness was amusing and refreshing. It was something new and something he couldn’t control for once that excited him. Enflamed his own passions. Now… of late, they only served to enflame his annoyance and embarrassment. Especially since she had yet to fufill her promise of many sons. Two miscarriages and a daughter. Hmph. Everyday she reminded him of a harping version of Katherine without the piety. And he did not want to imagine the possibility of her failing again. This Seymour girl was a breath of fresh air and it was something he desired greatly as he did this trip, how lucky he should come to find it in his sister’s predicament. ”Indeed such a Christian heart would be most welcomed at court. Many there could use your example, Mistress Seymour. If you should like to attend your brothers one day, I would gladly welcome your visit personally.” Henry chuckled softly at the rise of her blush. He then raises his goblet to a toast. ”I propose a toast to… second chances. It seems we’ve all been lucky enough to experience the gift for the better and I am most exceedingly glad for it!”. They all raise their goblets and cry out, ”To second chances!” Oh, how the straight road leads to the unexpected.

 

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By: King Henry VIII UK, Charles Brandon UK Z, Jane Seymour UK Z, Mary Rose Brandon UK Z

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