To Make or Mar, a Gentleman or Damned to Hell

November 29, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Historical Fiction by Beth von Staats

Wayneflete Tower was built in about 1470 by William Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor of England on the site of an 11th century manor house. The Tower is all that remains of it today, on the banks of the River Mole in Surrey. It was the gatehouse to his grand palace, Esher Place, where Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was kept under house arrest in 1529.

Wayneflete Tower was built in about 1470 by William Wayneflete, Bishop of Winchester and Lord High Chancellor of England on the site of an 11th century manor house. The Tower is all that remains of it today, on the banks of the River Mole in Surrey. It was the gatehouse to his grand palace, Esher Place, where in 1529, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey was kept under house arrest before being moved to his holy see at York.

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“And thus much I will say to you, that I intend, God willing, this afternoon, when my lord hath dined, to ride to London, and so to the court, where I will either make or mar or I come again.”

— Thomas Cromwell, as quoted by George Cavendish in his biography, The Life and Death of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey —

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November 1, 1529

Rain, does it ever not? The wind whipping, the rain pelts upon the window glass here in Esher’s Great Chamber on this day set aside for all saints. Though morning, it is dark, the clouds closing in, suffocating me as sure as the pillows undone the poor princes in the Tower. God speaks volumes, and He bellows his displeasure at me as sure as that bastard village drunk. For every sin done, and every sin wished done, and every sin yet done, He now punishes me, laughing. Last summer, my good dear wife, the woman who taught me how to be a gentleman, woke up one morning with a chill, and by noon she was dead with sweat. Three months past, she came for our daughters. Why Elizabeth? Anne was learning her Latin verse, and Grace her rhymes. I was away at Oxford at Thomas Cardinal Wolsey’s bidding yet again, yet another monastery closed for good measure, riches deferred to educate the sons of this realm. Could I not at least be with them? Did they have to die in the arms of servants, Elizabeth? Answer me woman.

I rest my head against the window pane, the cool damp mist seeping through my sorrowful soul. A year ago, I was the happiest man in Christendom. Now all I’ve strove for, worked for, fought for, slaved for, connived for, bargained for, bartered for, loved for — a family, a reputation, a comfortable home, wealth and an assured future for my son, companionship in my grey years — it’s gone, first my wife, then my daughters, and now my means of living, laid in waste at the whim of King Henry’s cod piece, the man intent on having the Boleyn girl, not his pretty discarded mistress, but the dark one.

I look down at the primer I’m gently holding, gifted from His Grace to my Grace upon her birth, and open to a random parchment. Hmmm… if I pray Our Lady Mattens right here and right now, will she come to me? Tears welling in a weak moment, I begin… mumbling along the versicles, the venite, all the psalms and lessons, like a good Catholic should in times like these.

“Hail Queen mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, our hope. Unto thee do we cry and sigh, weeping and wailing. Come of therefore our Patroness, cast upon us thy pitiful eyes, and after this our banishment shown to us the blessed fruit of thy womb. Oh Gate of glory be for as a reconciliation onto the father and the son. From the wretched their faults expel: wipe the spots of sins unclean. ”

No grace. Damn it all, there is no grace. Where is my Grace? Her mother must be holding on tightly, as she will not come. Grace never does.

“Why Master Cromwell?”

My God, I startle upright, dropping the primer on the floor. How long has he been standing there? Cavendish, he is a slippery sort, I do swear — always coming up upon me unawares. If ever a man be a spy, with desires to know all Wolsey does, all Wolsey says, all the Wolsey thinks, Cavendish is him. My dear clerk Ralph says he keeps a journal, writes down God knows what about God knows who. I trust him not. In these times, I trust not a soul — even my mother, if she still walked among us.

“What means all this, your sorrow?”

I turn towards Cavendish. God knows I must be a sight. I glare him down for good measure. How dare he interrupt my sanctity?

“Is my lord in danger, for whom you lament this? Or is it for any loss you have sustained by any misadventure?”

Downcast still, I think my answer best be good. God knows my words may end in that blasted journal of his, bound among the parchments through time eternal. His Eminence — the great Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, yes his plight is bleak. Stripped of his garter and chains of status, all his worldly goods, thrice counted and inventoried by me to be sure, the great Cardinal whom I did think one day would be Pope, turned in the great seal, now in the hands of heretic chasing More. I decide to answer frankly, nothing else to lose but my character, which already suffers much. My family pains I’ll leave unsaid. All already know, and it be no more than most men, save the celibate. “No, no, it is my unhappy adventure. I am likely to lose all that I have travailed for all these days of my life, for doing of my master, true and diligent services.”

Cavendish is the most loyal and trusted servant of my blessed Cardinal, not I, truth be told. He looks at me kindly, and my walls fall if but a smidget, no more.

“Why Sir? I trust you to be wise, to commit anything by my lord’s commandment, otherwise than you ought to do of right, whereof you have cause to doubt of loss of your goods.” 

I answer honestly. My situation bleak, I speak the obvious. “Well, well, I cannot tell; but all things I see before mine eyes is as it is taken; and this I understand right well, that I am in disdain with most men for my master’s sake; and surely without just cause. Howbeit, an ill name once gotten will not lightly be put away. ”

Aye, an ill name once gotten will not be lightly put away. Christ laments my soul to the fire, thrice burnt.

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Coat of Arms of Thomas Wolsey (left) and Coat of Arms of Thomas Cromwell (right). Note the revered homage Cromwell pays to Wolsey at his installation as knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Coat of Arms of Thomas Wolsey (left) and Coat of Arms of Thomas Cromwell (right). Note the revered homage Cromwell pays to Wolsey at his installation as Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

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To make or mar, a gentleman or damned to hell; yes, to make or mar I am — and I told that Cavendish right square. This afternoon, after the Cardinal’s last dinner with those few here still close, left with naught but his gratitude, I am riding out to Court. I lost plumb all so far as I can see, so no harm done. Stephen Vaughan, my good friend doing my bidding in Antwerp, will think me daft, but you can’t win lest you place the bet. Yes, heading to Austin Friars to barrister for land greedy folk would be my safest lot, but I told dear Ralph Sadleir, find me a seat in Parliament. Do what you can, man. Call in all favors, forgive loans if need be. With a seat, I can sweeten my fate at will, trade a vote here and there for favor, lay the King’s agenda to law if he behests — but I will cleave to no man, no faction. No longer will my fate be hinged in the back of another, for if the great Cardinal fell to the depths, so can Norfolk, Suffolk, Gardiner, More and the high rising Wiltshire, riding on the bosom, flat though it be, of his daughter, the Lady Anne Boleyn. The King, he is a fickle one — but His Eminence, my beloved Cardinal, he taught me well indeed, both what to do and say and when and how, and God save him, what not. I’ll rest my wagers with me, and me alone. God help me.

As I piss the day away preparing for the journey to a future untold, Cardinal Wolsey fell to his knees through two long masses, gave his confession that must laid bare half the morning plus I am sure, and then led yet his own mass for his yeoman and gentlemen servants. Heavens man, don’t these clerics have anything better to do but raise the host on and on and yet on once again? Won’t just one mass do? Is God deaf? Daft? The village idiot? All these priests, so devout and humble so they profess, their vestments are done filled high with hearty indulgences. They will soon leave him for the likes of Gardiner. So why the pretense? Make it so, and just damn go.

Fumbling through my papers, a dear servant calls to me. “Master Cromwell, do come to dinner. His Eminence, well he needs you. He dines in his privy chamber.”

I gently nod at the man. That poor snog has not a farthing, no payment coming for his service done well. “Must I go?” I ask teasingly.

“Aye, best you do, good man. There be no escape for you,” he says knowingly with a broad smile.

I rise from my desk in surrender to attending the inevitable meal of penance. Before heading off, I offer mine thoughts, as that be all we have between us. “God be with you, James. May His Eminence, our beloved Cardinal, find you safe haven.”

He nods. “And to you and yours, Master Cromwell.”

“If God be good to us James, we shall meet again at Sunday morn’ Mass and not in line at Archdeacon Gardiner’s for a dole, eh?”

“Aye, if I be you Master Cromwell, I would stay clear of the Archdeacon’s doles. Me thinks the King’s Secretary likes you not.”

I laugh. “So you think the Archdeacon would poison me then, good man?”

“Aye… I do, aye yes,” he says with the smirk of the devil.

I will miss dear James. I will miss them all. Resigned to my fate, I brush the dust off my doublet, bow respectfully and set out on my way to the Cardinal’s last feast. O Lord help me. I be in foul humors.

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Cardinal Wolsey surrendering the Great Seal (1529) From Cavendish's Life of Wolsey Roll 214.5. The Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Cardinal Wolsey surrendering the Great Seal (1529) From Cavendish’s Life and Death of Wolsey Roll 214.5. The Bodleian Library, Oxford.

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Damn, I always hated this dank privy chamber. It smells worse than a piss pot with meats stirred in. God knows why.

The Last Supper — by the intercession of Saint Thomas Beckett’s relic toe nails, let this be the last damn supper I sit with this brooding lot. Holy Christ, I am fidgeting like Gregory at Christmas Mass, picking at the roast boar, likely the last boar this sorry brood will dine in plenty a fortnight. Where did His Eminence get this meal of plenty? Did Norfolk or Suffolk owe him one last favor before damning this great man to a life of embarrassment, depravity and house arrest? Mayhaps dear Ralph will tell me later, a bartered deal I paid for knowing not. And there be poor James again, serving this brood of clergy and gentlemen, his plight now tugging at what’s left of my conscience. Yes, this is no time for staying mute. I’ll speak my mind, and then again if I must.

“Your Eminence, in all conscience, I do beseech that you do repay your humble servants, both yeoman and gentlemen, for their truth and loyal service done to you, never forsaking you, even in these times of trial and tribulation.”

There, I have his attention. Though an annoyed glare, I’ll take it still. I venture on. What the hell? What can he do? Release me once more from my living? Mayhaps, but I am the last friend he has.

I take a deep breathe, as if I don’t speak truth, who will? Certainly not these chaplains present. “I do so beseech that your Eminence call these men all before you, let them know you rightly appreciate their patience, truth and faith to you. Give these yeoman and gentlemen, who stayed the course these dismal days, your heartiest commendation, and reassure them still that they will continue to serve your good until God calls you.”

The silence is deafening, all around the dining table waiting on his word, what response the Cardinal will give me. One of the priests looks to me and snickers. Oh, I will not forget that. Oh no, I will not. He best pray I mar, the pig. When His Eminence finally speaks, we all bolt upright, like from the first bolt of thunder in an unexpected storm.

“Thomas, you know my finances, my budget, best said lack thereof! Alas, I have nothing to give them. Words with no tender be hollow indeed.”

The defeated Thomas Cardinal Wolsey grows silent once more, seeking words that don’t come easy. His face grows sullen, poor man. I do think he is close to tears. With this, the clergymen surrounding me look chastising, like I am Satan himself, placing His Eminence in this predicament for my own jolly. For those who have much, they see no need of it. Pity these fools who professed to a life of poverty. Their coffers overflow, so they know no pain of the common man. They need to stymie themselves right now.

“Thomas, I am ashamed but to say I must no longer accept their faithful service to me. As much as they do honor me through their humble diligence now as in my glory, and I have cause to rejoice their truth and honor born on to me all these many years, I have nothing to give them. Nothing, Thomas… nothing at all. I want again to at very least give substance among them so they may leave, hence to return when His Majesty calms thus and restores me. I have not even that, man. You know this well enough, so why taunt me?”

A tad ashamed, but not much, I nod knowingly. I inventoried all his worldly goods, every piece of silver, every goblet, every rich vestment, every tapestry, every coin. I transferred them all, every last knife, every last lacework, to the Crown myself. The Cardinal was left with nothing. Again, the clergymen glare me down, like a heretic holding Lutheran tracts instead of the rosary. They fright me not. I rise, gesture towards them sitting around the table, and speak to His Eminence — and through him to them.  I pound my fist on the table with grand effect, jolting those seated to attention.

“Your Eminence, look to these men around this table! Aren’t they right among us your chaplains? Are these not holy men sworn to poverty that you treated with great liberty? By your preference are not some of these pious men dispensed 1000 marks each year, some even more, some a little less? None of these men chaplain here to you; yet they have all, and your servants nothing! And now in your time of need, they impart not a farthing to you in gratitude for all their riches and liberties. I do swear some day, each and all these chaplains will be viewed with indignation for their ingratitude to their master and lord, for their limitless indulgences and fortune, so help me God!”

The Cardinal holds up his hand in command that I quiet. Respectfully, I do. I’ve said enough. Mayhaps, I said too much. Humbly he speaks, more to me a father than my father. “Calm Thomas, calm down, good man. Though I have no crowns, no pounds, not a farthing, do bring my servants to the great hall. I can at least give them my hearty commendation as you suggest.”

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George Cavendish, servant of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, wrote the first biography written in the English language, the most important single contemporary source for Wolsey's life. he provides invaluable glimpses of Thomas Cromwell, as well.

George Cavendish, servant of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, wrote one of the first biographies written in the English language, the most important single contemporary source of Wolsey’s life. Cavendish provides invaluable glimpses of Thomas Cromwell, as well.

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George Cavendish, faithful to the end, he will stay with our lord and master to his death I am sure. As helpful as any a man can be on this most dreadful of All Saints Days, he scurries to collect all the servants of His Eminence, yeomen and gentleman alike. Under his watch, down one row of Esher’s Great Hall lines up the yeoman, cooks and cattlemen, chimney sweeps and ostlers, farmers and soldier guards. Along the row on the opposing side, lines the Cardinal’s honorable gentleman servants. The sight brings a smile to my face, many of these men showing me every gracious welcome through the years.

I walk up to Cavendish, and in all sincerity say, “You are most faithful and diligent of all, good man. Do watch guard for His Eminence, and I shall do same.” We nod to each other knowingly. Yes, we shall — always, to his death, the commitment given graciously and willingly to the greatest man in Christendom, our mentor, my friend.

As the room lay silent as a congregation of the dead, the great Thomas Cardinal Wolsey enters, followed by his chaplains, shamed into accompanying I am sure. Wearing modest vestments of lace surplice over a bishop’s purple cassock, he looks suddenly old and frail — not the powerful rotund man in crimson velvet who rode a donkey into Court, not the man who lead this nation while a young king played his games of Camelot, and certainly not the man who took a chance on me, the son of Putney’s town drunk. At the sight of him, Cavendish and I sigh deeply as one, both looking to the floor for a short spell, a tactic to compose ourselves quickly. May our strength now be his, as his was ours so long hence. I tug on Cavendish’s sleeve and motion. His Eminence, distressed to uncomfortable silence, turns away from us all, breaking into quiet sobs. I walk across the room and stand beside him. The Cardinal will not do this deed I so beseechingly implored alone. As I grab hold to his arm to steady him, I feel him breath deeply, straight from the gut. Finally, he wipes his tears, and speaks, his voice with a slight quiver.

“As you all know, His Majesty in his greatest of wisdom finds it his pleasure to take all I own into his possession, Master Cromwell here doing my stead to insure His Majesty’s commands were done in all diligence. So, all I own I wear now, certainly not so grand as you all are so accustomed. If my worldly goods be here, please know now I would divide them among you.”

In all graciousness and with kind regard, all the yeomen and gentlemen nod, acknowledging his words as if gospel. Though beaten to near death and standing no richer than a pauper, the Cardinal commands devotion still from all of us who know him.

“Fret not, good men. I doubt but His Majesty, in all his loving benevolence, knowing that the offenses so brought by mine enemies have no truth, will shortly restore me. And when this good day comes, I will be able then to divide among you deserved wages, the surpluses  of my wealth divided equally one and all. Until then, do take leave to your families, with my blessing and return in three months hence, by then my riches restored.”

All in the Great Hall now fall silent. These men, they have no means to go anywhere, do anything. They lack the resources to live yet a day without the Cardinal’s favor, though none he now has. This just won’t do, not at all. I release His Eminence’s arm, and speak frankly, again gesturing at the chaplains present.

“Your Eminence, I am certain your yeomen would feel blessed to see their families, as they so now do just once per year if best, but they have no money. But look a yonder. Here they are, your chaplains, great men with great benefices. Oh yes, in their high dignities, let them show themselves, as they are bound to do by their solemn vow of poverty. Their charity abounding, I am certain they can assist in this cause.”

I look to the clergymen, a wide grin on my face. Dig deep, you dirty dogs, dig deep. I look back at the great Cardinal, and he nods to me, a slight grin on his face. Yes, I learned well, dear man. I took careful notes, like Cavendish, but in my mind, not parchment. I layer it on once more to shame the bastards. They will do these men right or look like the fools they are.

“Now Your Eminence, though I have received not a penny towards my yearly living, I will happily donate to these men who have none.”

I dig deep into my purse, pull out five pounds gold and toss it upon the table before us. “There, Your Eminence. Now let us do see what these most benevolent chaplains will do. With all their indulgences and riches bestowed by your loving patronage, I am certain they can and will donate to you a pound for each of my pennies.”

The Cardinal turns from the sight of his chaplains, and rests his hand upon my shoulder. He bends into my ear and whispers, “Remember all I told you, Thomas. Remember it all or you shall perish. These tricks Thomas, this heavy handed tone, will work not at Court. The Dukes, those with royal blood, they will cut you down.”

I nod knowingly, and then point over to the table and smile. The chaplains, they are laying down crowns one and all. “Aye, but not this night.”

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The Cardinal’s Legacy… (Uk Court)

October 17, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Statue of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in Ipswich, England

Thomas Wolsey UK: *It is a seasonably warm January day as I stroll through the handsomely manicured grounds surrounding Hampton court palace. Accompanying me is my young secretary, master Thomas Cromwell. As I speak, I look not directly at him, but rather at the rich colors and textures of the plants and flower beds surrounding us. My hands folded before me, I walk at a deliberate pace and make sure every word is clearly enunciated and comprehended.* … My gardens are a great joy to me, Cromwell. They inspire me, you know? The mind itself is a garden of sorts. From it’s fertile soil spring thoughts that change the world. Ideas, master Cromwell. Ideas. * I smile broadly and raise my hand up* I have asked you to join me, as I require the fruits of your thoughts to assist me in my plans.

Thomas Cromwell Uk: As I walk around the gardens with His Eminence, I admire the beauty and think of how I might improve my own gardens at Austin Friars. I sort through in my mind how to extend my lands beyond the property lines of my neighbors. Perhaps a bribe is in order? Should I just buy them right out? ”Your Eminence, thank you for your continued confidence in me. How can I be of assistance?

Thomas Wolsey Uk: Yes. Well, as we both know, the foundation of any civilized society is education. I strongly believe England can ill afford to set herself behind the other European powers in matters of education. To this end, as Lord Chancellor, I feel it my responsibility to expand our education system. I have had plans drawn up for new colleges to be raised. One in Oxford, the other, in my own hometown of Ipswich. As you can imagine, this project is not only of profound importance to the realm. But near to my heart as well… However. *I stop before taking another step and turn to lock eyes with him* I am at the moment lacking the funds to fullfill this project. *I raise my finger in the air* I need ideas for funding. Major funding. I know, Cromwell you are resourceful and a creative thinker. Moreover I sense you are a man who is not afraid to be bold and not let useless scruples get in the way of an otherwise brilliant idea. Am I right?

Thomas Cromwell Uk: ”New colleges, your eminence? What a spectacular legacy you will leave for the future generations of this realm!” Of course, I will help you in every way I can.” I look over at him with a sly grin. ’In anyway, Your Eminence. Let’s discuss some fund raising ideas, shall we?” I stop walking for emphasis. ”Do tell me, is there a way to divert crowns from the sees due the Vatican, pray tell?”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: *I allow myself a muffled laugh* Master Cromwell, you may sooner wrest a mutton joint from a wolf than run off any crowns from his holiness’ tribute. Besides, though your brazeness is to be admired, it would take time to divert enough coin to complete the task. No, what’s needed here is a windfall. I ask you this. Where in the kingdom can such wealth be found, other than the royal treasury? * Though I knew the answer I spoke with an expression of bewilderment. Gleaning in Cromwell’s eyes if he would absolve me of my thoughts, by speaking them himself.*

Thomas Cromwell Uk: My heavens… the monasteries are filled with riches, false idols and relics. Here’s a golden opportunity to forward the long awaited reformation right under is nose. ”Well, forgive me Your Eminence, but there is much financial waste within the realm’s religious houses. Perhaps they could be consolidated without any undo hardship to the monks, friars, nuns and the poor souls they do service?”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: *’Tis truly discomforting knowing this angler’s thoughts parallel my own. Yet he follows my lead, splendidly. I look at him pointedly, and raise my eyebrows, feigning dismay. I pinch my bottom lip as I speak* Master Cromwell! Are you suggesting procuring these funds by looting the monasteries? … Of course it could not be called ”looting” if they are indeed wasting much needed coin that could be spent on my education project… But still, I don’t know. On the other hand we are dealing with a moral imperative; Keeping England’s future generations in intellectual stead with the rest of the civilized world! … Very well. You have convinced me of the righteousness of this course. I charge you, master Cromwell, with drawing up the details for this venture. It must be legally sound, and we must not do anything to unduly trouble his majesty. Is that understood?

Thomas Cromwell Uk: ”Your Eminence, there is no need to loot the monasteries. You will have all the funds you need by simply ’consolidating’ them. There is much coin in just maintaining the properties.” I look to my mentor, a man who taught me much and state knowingly, ” What you choose to do with the idols and relics is up to your discretion, as it should be.” I then look him in the eye and add in all seriousness, ”Now, let’s discuss compensation. What you ask will require much of my time. I request full escort so I am not murdered by the thugs who will rebel this, and additional wages… I do believe 15% of the spoils, I mean ’savings’ would be a fair wage for the time and effort this difficult project will require.”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: * This man’s arrogance is as boundless as his resourcefulness!* Master Cromwell, we do this, not to fill our own purses, nor for our own self-aggrandizement.*I see him raise a finger and start to speak,but continue before he can utter a word* But being the fair employer that I am, I shall grant you your 15%. Just remember the conditions I have laid out before you. Are we agreed?

Thomas Cromwell Uk: ”Yes, we are agreed.” I offer my ’opinion’ to reinforce I have other options should things not go as I request, and what few the Cardinal remains should I decline him. ”Your Eminence. I am so glad you decided my request for payment was fair. After all, can you imagine if you would have needed to rely on Gardiner to do this for you? I shudder at the thought. I will get started in the morning.”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: Indeed. Exceptional, master Cromwell. Most exceptional. *I raise my hand out* Come this way. We shall take the short cut back. The palace kitchen is preparing a great plump turkey for dinner. By now, it should be just about ready to be plucked, cooked and generously carved. *I look up to see Cromwell’s inquisitive look and smile* We should get our fill of such bountiful game, master Cromwell.

Thomas Cromwell UK: I look to him and smile as I ponder his comments. We will get our fill of bountiful game indeed.

~~~~~ FADE TO BLACK ~~~~~~

A “Most Honorable Offer” (Uk Court)

September 18, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Thirteen… my son would be thirteen this day if the Lord did not call him, if the Lord did not call my beloved Joan. The friars thought I was weak, vacating my fellowship at Jesus College for love of this woman. After all those years, they knew me not. They knew her not. The knew us not. God brought us together most surprisingly, and for reasons I yet do not comprehend, He took her home, along our babe on the day of his birth. We pledged until death do we part, and ten months later were were. The Lord is giving, yes forgiving, and led me back to the fold at Cambridge. Celibate since Joan left me, last month I was ordained, last week finally receiving my doctorate in divinity. My life is now my studies, my passion to know God’s word through the Holy Scriptures, directly from Him.

After worshiping at mass this evening, praying to our Lord and Savior to keep Joan and Edward close, I tutor a few of my students in the Old Testament, and then review my correspondences. I look through, and stunned I raise up a folded parchment stamped with the seal of Cardinal Wolsey. What ever could he want? I open and begin reading.

Dearest Father Cranmer,

His Eminence, Lord Chancellor of England, Arch Bishop of York, and Cardinal of the Holy See Thomas Wolsey is very proud of your accomplishments at Cambridge University and congratulates you most abundantly upon your ordination and award of doctorate of divinity. As you know, His Eminence has opened a new college at Oxford University. His greatest desire to to bring the sharpest and most devout minds to this most illustrious college to shepard the work of the humanities as a beacon shining bright throughout Europe. His Eminence most desires you consider his most honorable offer to accept a fellowship of divinity at Oxford. He further offers housing and a very generous stipend. Please make no haste in responding to this outstanding opportunity that will insure your continued growth within the diocese. 
 
Most Sincerely,
Thomas Cromwell
Secretary and Solicitor to the Lord Chancellor
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A fellowship at Oxford? Under Cardinal Wolsey’s nose? Never. I desire most to study the Holy Scriptures from the Greek translations, not the pope’s Latin. I most desire to know the truth, God’s truth. That will never happen at Oxford. I look over the parchment again, the letter written by the Cardinal’s barrister. Cromwell? He must be the father of one of Chekyng’s students, Gregory, named for popes and the material rewards they seek. If so, the man is a scallywag, late with his payments and overly critical. The boy is a gentle spirited soul and very bright, but no Aristotle. Does the man expect miracles? Perhaps he should go to one of the Cardinal’s monasteries and buy one. Such is the way with barristers. Quick to upend you, they can never be trusted.
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My thoughts on my beloved Joan and Edward, I toss the parchment in the fire. I will find with all diplomacy a way out of this “most honorable offer” tomorrow. Until then, let me reflect back upon the only woman I will ever love, the only woman to whom I will ever make love. Joan, I haven’t forgotten you, dearest, nor the babe you blessed me with, if only for a brief moment. I take comfort he is in your loving arms among the angles with our Lord God, Jesus, and His Virgin Mother.  I drop to my knees in prayer, as I know God will listen, at mass or no.
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God our Father, 
Your power brings us to birth, 
Your providence guides our lives, 
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence, 
their lives change but do not end. 
I pray in hope for my family, 
my beloved Joan and Edward, 
and for all the dead known to You alone. 
In company with Christ, 
Who died and now lives, 
may they rejoice in Your kingdom, 
where all our tears are wiped away. 
Unite us together again in one family, 
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
Amen.
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Death Wish (Uk Court Thread)

August 3, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Uk Court by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Thomas Cromwell Uk: My office. It’s a mess, filled with merchant bills, loan inquiries, and legal correspondences. Finally, I have a few days to catch up. I love the Cardinal, but he is dominating much of my time and my other obligations are suffering. I begin reading my mail. Don’t any of these Lords have money? I am always bailing them out, and they are slow to repay. As I begin writing a letter to call in a loan from Percy, I am startled by my wife’s voice. ”Thomas, you have a message. It has the Cardinal’s seal. Does not this man give you any peace?” Elizabeth, a wonderful mother to Gregory and the girls, but shrill. ”Just pass it over, dear,” I say with a soft voice to avoid her nagging. I open the seal and read. Well piss off, Pace is in The Tower and His Eminence desires to meet with me at Hampton Court. Well at least the wine is fine. I get up, grab my cape and head on my way. Elizabeth will need to keep her place and wait. After the freedom I enjoyed in Europe, why did I ever agree to an arranged marriage? Oh yes, the crowns and family business.

Thomas Wolsey Uk: I am seated at my large, oak, office desk. My eyes scroll down the parchment page, illuminated by the sunlight streaming through the window at my back. My young Secretary, Mr. Percy enters. ”Yes, Mr. Percy?”. ”Eminence” he says, nearly out of breath from his brisk walk down the palace hall. ”Mr. Cromwell has arrived.” ”Very well then, show him in”. ”Eminence” Percy adds, and bows, backing out of the room.

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I remove my hat and bow respectfully. ”Sir Percy, here’s your bill. Please bring me to the Cardinal. He beckons yet again.” As Percy brings me to the office of His Eminence, I look around at the opulence of his palace. I have to admit, his taste in flawless, the tapestries exquisite. After Percy announces me, I walk in, bow deeply, and rise with a wide smile. The Cardinal is a task master, but I do love the man. ”Good afternoon, Your Eminence. I am sorry to hear about poor Pace. How may I be of assistance until the poor soul is released?”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: I raise my girth off my chair with a deep breath and wave my hand toward the chair opposite me. ”Good afternoon, Master Cromwell. Please have a seat…” I settle back into my chair and shuffle the parchments on my desk with furrowed brow, speaking as I search for the right one. ”Master Cromwell… You may, or may not know that my previous Secretary, Mr. Pace, was arrested on charges of high treason. For acts of espionage… Ah, here it is. But he lacked a, how shall I put it? A ‘moral compass’. He forgot where his loyalties lie. I tell you this, because I seek a new secretary. A man worthy to serve not only my office, but indirectly, His Majesty, as well. I have asked you here today, Mr. Cromwell, with an offer to charge you with the office of secretary. You would be more than that title suggests, sir. You would be a servant of God and the King. Well, what say you, sir?”

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I take a seat and tip a nod as I do. As His Eminence speaks, I am stunned. The poor man is getting older, as I think he’s gone mad. A commoner his secretary? I respond in a composed and respectful manner. ”Your Eminence, you humble me with your very gracious offer. I must be honest, however. By my observation, many a servant of the court falls victim to high treason by the whim of his master or the king. Also, I am my own boss. Why would I defer control to another? The offer is tempting, but I need the crowns not.” I ignore his mention or ”serving God”. The poor man would suffer palsy if he knew how I served mine.

Thomas Wolsey Uk: Willful, petulant young man!, I think. He’ll do very well. His ambition will keep him true to his charge, as will his devotion to his own neck!… ”Mr. Cromwell, I am offering you more than just an opportunity here. This office is a pathway to higher ambition. Surely, you wish for that?” I lift the parchment up and lower my head, burrowing my fingertips into my left temple and scanning the page, my jowels waving as I move my head right and left.  “As a young man you fought with the French in Italy in the Milan campaign. As a mercenery! ” I look impressed. ”It says you spent time in Florence, studying under Niccolo Machiavelli.” I smile and roll my pale blue eyes up to look at you. ”I gather you learned much in Italy”. Let’s see, member of the house of commons, before that body was dissolved, of course. And a member of the honourable Gray’s Inn society. Outstanding… 100 pounds per annum. How does that sound?”

Thomas Cromwell Uk: His Eminence; he is the master. Do you want someone to do your bidding? Either insure he owes you big or layer on the flattery. I respond flatly. ”You’re too kind, Your Eminence. I was a mercenery for France because I was young, stupid and had no other way to legally earn my keep. In Italy, I actually learned most from Francesco Frescobaldi. I am the man I am only because of him.” I would be stupid not to see the potential this position has, as well as the risks. I quickly weigh out both. I look the Cardinal in the eye. ”Your Eminence, if I accept this position, I will lose income from my law practice and banking. I will accept this illustrious opportunity, but can’t do so for less than 200 pounds per annum. I hope we can come to an agreement. If not, I would be happy to continue consulting for you as always.” There, rook takes knight. Let’s see his next move.

Thomas Wolsey Uk: I smile broadly and laugh heartily. Letting the parchment drop from my fingers onto the desk. Pushing my chair back, I heave myself up and take a step to the window, turning toward it and gazing at the splendor of the Palace garden whilst folding my hands behind my back. ”We have so much in common, Master Cromwell. Both of us, born of humble birth. In this realm, we are like broken branches flowing down the stream. Determined to move ahead, but at the mercy of the current.” I turn and bore into this insolent young man with my gaze. ”Very well, Master Cromwell. You shall have your 200 pounds per annum.” I lean over the desk, into him. ”On the condition that your loyalty to this office and to me personally be unequivocal. I was humiliated once by that churlish drigger rotting away in the tower, and by god sir, for 200 pounds annum, I expect more. MUCH MORE!” I fall back into my seat and take a deep breath, trying to cool the red from my face. ”So now, Mr. Cromwell, what say you, sir?”

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I look at the Cardinal and state with all sincerity. ”Your Eminence. We have worked together in one way or another for quite some time. I have never given you any reason not to trust me. My loyalty is to you, His Majesty, and this realm.” I smile broadly and cross my fingers across my neck is a sweeping motion, ”I need also say I prefer your good graces rather than the inevitable alternative. I like my head on my shoulders just fine. I even closed those monasteries, didn’t I? My heavens, you would have thought I had a death wish. One way or another, I am a marked man it seems.” We begin laughing, and I add in a jovial tone, but also desiring the Cardinal’s wise counsel, ”And so how do I best accomplish that with His Majesty?”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: I cross my hands atop the desk, and look Master Cromwell in the eye and smile.”You must grab the lion by the tail to get his attention. Keep him fed hearty, and no matter what. NEVER EVER let it go. For that is when he shall turn on you”. I get up once again and step over to the table near my desk. Atop the fine lace doile is a silver flagon of wine and two silver cups. I pour the wine, a rich port, into both cups and turn and hand one to Cromwell. ”Do you see what I mean?”

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I nod in thanks at the wine, and hold my cup in a toast like gesture, then sip. Exquisite. It’s rich and full. I see managing His Majesty is not all that different than managing my dear mentor. ”Yes, Your Eminence. I do. I also have concerns with the Lords. As you know, I am not a top their popularity list. Before I start on this venture, Norfolk already would trip me up at the first opportunity… your man Gardiner, also. How through the years have you kept the Lords at bay?”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: Seated back at my desk, taking a deep sip, and a deep breath afterwards. I lie the cup down and cross my fingers again. ”Your loyalty to me and your office will insure your ‘popularity’. Do you think they would not just as soon put my head on the block as well, given the chance? So long as I have a firm grasp on that lion’s tail, I shall keep them all at bay. That is what you must do to insure your survival at his majesty’s court. There is wealth, power and influence to be had. Also terrible consequences for those who don’t hold on. I saw your history Master Cromwell. I could see you’re not a man who backs down from a challenge. Rather like myself, you relish the sport… So sir. I put it to you again. Will you accept the charge I have offered?”

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I look at the Cardinal and smile. ”Give me a week to get things on my end at Austin Friars tied up, and I will accept this death wish of yours. You are right. I love a challenge. And to be honest, I want my hands in government in a more meaningful way that at Parliament where all we so is talk much and accomplish nothing. Thank you for your trust in me, Your Eminence. Do tell me now, what is the story with Boleyn? He rises far prostituting his daughters, does he not? That man needs close watching, Eminence. Watch your back there.”

Thomas Wolsey Uk: The wide smile of satisfaction inflates my rosy cheeks and puts a glint in my eyes. ”Splendid. I knew you were a man of action, Mr. Cromwell. This career suits you and you it. Soon, if you fullfill the duties of this office as I believe you can. you shall not have to suffer the likes of Thomas Boleyn or any other filching cur waiting for his master to drop a scrap of meat on the floor for his repast. No. You shall be in his majesty’s good graces. WE shall be in his majesty’s good graces. And woe to those who are left empty-handed”. I pick up my cup and gesture towards Cromwell. ”To your new office”.

Thomas Cromwell Uk: I raise my glass and state earnestly, ”“My prayer is that God give me no longer life than I shall be glad to use mine office in edification and not in destruction.”

~~~~~~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~~~~~~

The lonelyness begins.

February 1, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

~Sir Charles Brandony is announced and I receive
him~ Brandon, please ~motions for him to sit in a chair by the fire, I sit as well~ Have you heard the news of the Cardinal Thomas Wolseyy? The insufferable man has deceived me once more Charles. ~ looks him in the eye~ what would you say in this instants?
Charles Brandony I sit down by the fireplace, next to the King -“Your majesty, I never liked him nor trusted him. He is greedy and he only seeks for power, he cares only for himself. I warned you many times before about him, and I bet I wasn’t the only one. Thank God my Lord, you finally opened your eyes… He has been deceiving you for years and years now”- I say and sip my wine. I eye him closely, he looks angry but somehow relieved.
Henry Tudory Charles I have been a FOOL! A FOOL FOR TRUSTING MEN OF POWER IN MINE OWN REALM!
Henry Tudory I shall have his head Charles…….
Charles Brandony I stand up and walk around the room -“Indeed my lord, to be honest… I’m the only one you can trust”- I touch my chin and nod … -“Yes, he deserves death… he is traitor”-
Henry Tudory I may be hated for the time but my people are faithful to me. They need to hear of the truth. There are books Charles that say I am the all mighty as King. These books show how the Holy Bible has been misused in the Holy Roman Church for thine own purpose! ~slams my hand on the table between us~ I WILL BE A FOOL NO MORE
Charles Brandony ?’Oh God’ … I think to myself and watch him … He is speaking nonsense, but anyway .. -“Your majesty, you know that I’m not fond of religion, in fact I don’t really care… but whatever you say is fine to me. Indeed you are the King of England, you are our head, not the pope. You rule this kingdom, not religion”- I add.
Henry Tudory ?~thinks of what he says, he has betrayed me as well. I look to his face as he touches his chin, I do love this man, I can trust him~ Please see too his formal execution. I am done with this man.
Charles Brandony ?-“I will my Lord… do you need something else?”- i ask curiously and head to the door.
Henry Tudory That will be all~~walks to the window….stares out…..feeling very lonely~

He is just away, not dead

February 1, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

I wake early and call for a groom. After he arrives I somber to silence. The cardinal is dead. It does not seem real. He is just away from court I think to myself, and that is the way I will always think of him. He is just absent from my presence. There are many that are absent from me. I believe I would play tennis with Charles Brandony today.

Wolsey’s order of arrest

January 31, 2012 in Historical Fiction by ADMIN: Royal Squire

~~~The Guard announces Nicholas Carewy and Mister Thomas Cromwelly~~ Sir’s ~~~pours them a glass of wine~~~
    • Nicholas Carew ?~I hand the king another letter~

    • Thom Cromwelly As you can read, there is quite treasonous behavior illustrated. Also, other letters may have made it through to intended party, although we did our best to intercept all of them.

    • Nicholas Carew For all we know, he has written Suleiman the Magnificent.

    • Nicholas Carew And, or John the Pious of Portugal.

    • Nicholas Carew Multiple acts of treason. Pity he has only one head to cut off.

    • Nicholas Carew Say the word. I shall get Constable Kingston in the morning, and we’ll go arrest him.

    • Henry Tudory ?~~~takes the letter from Sir Nick and glance over. I hear what these men are saying to me but a fire burns over me~~ That deceiving BASTARD! IF EVER THERE WERE A MAN THAT I LOVED AND TRUSTED……..Charles Brandony should be the one to handle this arrest but that will do Nick.

    • Nicholas Carew I have jurisdiction there, Mr. Kingston has jurisdiction here.

    • Nicholas Carew Charles is away in Suffolk.

    • Thom Cromwelly <~~~~~ is silent

    • Nicholas Carew ?70 miles away.

    • Henry Tudory I am well aware of where Brandon is. And the jurisdictions of my realm. Nick, do go and arrest the man. I will summons The Duke to my palace to disscuss matters.

    • Nicholas Carew At your pleasure, majesty.

    • Thom Cromwelly Is there anything else you require, Your Majesty?

    • Henry Tudory No Mister Cromwell that is ALL!!!~~~nods to them both and waves my hand to dismiss them….the ANGER…THE RAGE…..~~~

    • Thom Cromwelly <bows and retreats>

    • Henry Tudory ?~~~~END~~~~

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