“Recantations” — In Memory of Saint Thomas More, Executed July 6, 1535

July 6, 2016 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Y Writer's Group by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

— Book of John 20:27, King James Bible —

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“I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Over twenty years ago, Sir Thomas More spoke those words for all to hear just before the executioner swung the ax, just before his head rolled from his shoulders onto the straw, just before his self-serving martyrdom. For months beyond a year holed up in The Tower, he stoically embraced his fate, faithfully hung to his God, stubbornly held firm in his convictions, and refused to see the truth, no matter how hard dearest Cromwell, Audley and I tried to convince him, no matter how much his wife and children begged he compromise his self-righteous scruples. In scripture, there is no Pope. There is no purgatory. There are no idols, relics, or indulgences. Mary is the mother of Jesus, not a saint interceding on behalf of all who pray to her. It’s really that simple. What is not written in God’s word is not truth. Why could More not see the obvious? Was he blind? Was he daft? Was he of Satan?

And why after 20 years does More’s sorry fate still weigh my conscience down like a stone?

“More was not satisfied to be Lord Chancellor, Your Grace. His heresy burnings were not enough to fill his soul. More yearned for a higher calling than service to the realm and His Majesty. He yearned to be a martyred saint. He yearned for pilgrims to travel long journeys to touch his hair shirt and gaze upon his pickled head, disgusting as that be.”

Dearest Cromwell, I hear him ringing through my mind as if he were sitting in this dank horrid cell right alongside me. The Earl always found a way to rationalize quandaries, bless his soul. All we asked, all His Majesty wanted, all that was required to save his very life was for Sir Thomas More to take the oath, say the words out loud publicly, and do what he wanted in private. More could worship his Latin Mass, give confession, fondle his rosary, collect his idols, venerate his relics, wear his hair shirt, and whip his back bloody to his heart’s content.

“Just take the damn oath, and then do what you will.”

“No, and I will speak nothing of it.”

Again, again, again, the Earl pleaded for this simple sign of obedience to the King. Again, again, again, the same reply. My God in heaven, the Pope is the antichrist. To this day, I am still dumbfounded. The man was brilliant, scholarly, eloquent. So why was he such a fool?

After hours of mulling over my fate, I look down at the parchment. My couched recantations, written to baffle His Eminence and the Queen without sully to my conscience, baffled them not. Cardinal Pole then took a quill to parchment and wrote out another, and then an another and yet another, one that clearly says to all in the far more eloquent words of the papal whore, “The last twenty years of my life were heresy. The liturgy of the Church of England is heresy. The lyrical Evensong at Friday service is heresy. The Collects said in worship all through the year are heresy. The Book of Common Prayer is heresy. Holy Communion as a commemoration to the Lord’s Last Supper is heresy. I recant. I recant it all. The Eucharist correctly turns wine to Christ’s blood, turns bread to Christ’s body. The holy church in England and its clergy are led by His Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. Unless you purchase an indulgence, your mother will remain rotting to the bones in purgatory. There I said it. Now, you know my truth.”

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

If I want to live another day, die in my own bed, not burn pitifully as my beloved friends Ridley and Latimer, I must copy this in myne own hand, and sign my name to it. And, no, this is not the same challenge More faced. More was never forced to endure a trial for treason, found guilty, and yet a second trial for heresy, found guilty again. More did not have to debate at Oxford, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year with papist religious scholars wearing him down, chiding his every word. More did not have to watch his friends burn at the stake, poor Ridley lingering for hours due to a poor man’s misguided attempt to help. More did not have the entire Church of England and its future laying squarely on his shoulders. No, it is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not.

If I say it enough, I might believe it.

I confess Sir Thomas More’s writings so authored while he himself imprisoned give me strength. A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is just brilliant in all truth. Though they believed pushing More down my throat would wear me down, instead, his writings give me hope, nourish my soul. As More so correctly alluded through his story telling, persecution for one’s faith is a hazardous quandary indeed. It brings upon us at the same time both the lure and comfort rewarded for recantation — and the dread of torture and a painful death if we remain steadfast and true.

I look at the parchment yet again. No, I will not copy it in myne own hand. No, I will not sign it.

More conceded, and I agree, that it is not acceptable to escape persecution by compromising some of God’s truths, while keeping true to the rest. His err laid in not knowing what God’s truths truly are, by placing his faith and belief as defined by a papal authority instead of God’s word in scripture.

I look to the flickering candle, the only light in this stench laid cell and hold the parchment near. I will burn this parchment, and then I will burn. God, give me strength.

The cell door slams open, bashing the stone wall like a death knell.

“The recantation, is it ready Dr. Cranmer?!”

I startle upright. Damn, it be the Spaniard friar, Juan de Valligarcia, bellowing at me yet again. I look to the man wearily and hold out the parchment. He snatches it from me.

“No, I refuse to write it.”

This friar, I swear he is paid handsomely just to torment my soul. He saunters to the front of me and glares me down — evil incarnate, I do swear.

“I have word from Her Majesty. She desires I give you a message and one last chance to comply. Do you wish to hear it?”

I remain silent, mulling over how best to respond. The dirty dog drums his fingers impatiently on the table.

“Am I commanded to hear it? If not, I choose you leave with her words unsaid.”

“Yes, you are so commanded!”

“Carry on then.”

“As you so professed these many years, a monarch is supreme and heads the clergy is this realm. His Majesty King Henry chose to delegate to you and the heretic Emissary of Satan, Cromwell, while Her Majesty chooses to delegate to His Holy Father,” the friar scowls. He then holds out a parchment, its wax seal of the Queen made evident for myne benefit.

“Dr. Cranmer, as your monarch I command that you recant in writing as so drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign your name in full. I further command that you attend Latin Mass and recant publicly through a sermon approved in advance by His Eminence. From this day forward, you will attend Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, and worship the Roman Catholic faith with all humility.”

That bastard friar begins pacing to and fro. I say nothing. What be there to add to that?

“Will you abide Her Majesty’s command? If not, I need not remind that you will burn, mayhaps hanging in a giblet liken you and the concubine’s butcher did unto poor Friar Forest. The poor man be roasted hours on end like a chicken on a spit.”

Forest? He dares speak of the devil Forest?

I be in a rage now. “Forest’s burning fulfilled God’s prophecy! Saint Derfel burned with the forest as foretold from one to the next for many a moon — a suitable punishment for the evil Franciscan. He was both a sin-filled heretic and heinous treasoner of the King’s Majesty!”

I grab hold tight onto the table. Myne humors be in a twist, near to spew. The damn Spaniard steps up right close to me and leans into myne beard, so close his putrid rank breath near makes me faint.

“Cranmer, you are a hopeless, spineless, wretched, evil little man. God forgive you.”

My gout raging in my legs, I steady myself by the table, push him back and stand strong. What there be to lose? I am already a dead man. “No, I will not abide the damn command. Leave me to rot and be gone. You can light the fags another day.”

“But Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty is supremely your head as you define by scripture, eh? Are you not by your own interpretation of God’s Holy Word sinning through your treason?”

The man, he is of Satan and chides me mockingly, finding my greatest weakness yet again. This very issue, this very dilemma, has me confused and conflicted once more. This pitiful servant of the antichrist is right, but in my heart to recant is a larger sin, an unforgivable sin.

“I said, NO, I will not abide by the damn command.”

Unsteady of feet, I sit back down.

“Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty in her great benevolence wishes to extend this offer. Queen Mary, Regina remains steadfast in her vision to route this realm of all heresy, and will burn it all wherever it lays. Her Majesty desires to reassure you that should you recant, your Lutheran whore and bastard children will sleep safe. If not, they will burn as the heretics they are  — before you, as Ridley and Latimer did.”

Did myne heart just stop? Frozen in fear, I look at the Spanish friar, my blood frozen cold, just like that. Satan speaks through him as sure as Christ died for his sins. Mary, Regina — no one could be this evil, no one, especially a woman. De Villagarcia is trying to trick me. He must be. Margarete, my children, they fled to Nuremburg. Edmund promised me.

Aye, but Satan reached Tyndale. Why not them? My mind, it be cloudy, worn thin. I can’t concentrate. Think, Thomas – think. Would she really command my Margarete burned? Thomas and Marge? Would she really kill them before myne very eyes? Or is this man baffling me? Are they safe on the Continent or did Pole’s spies find them?

I gaze just beyond the Spaniard, and dearest Bishops Latimer and Ridley stand before me, burning pitifully, screaming in agony. Yes, the friar speaks truth. The Queen of England, Satan’s mistress, seeks revenge. This is hopeless. Either way I go, I be damned.

Broken, yes, after two long years, I am finally broken. I am sorry, Sir Thomas More. For this tribulation, there is no comfort. To route out this tribulation, I am willing to burn in hell so they don’t burn. Am I selfish? Or is that God’s will? Your writing, your gentle and humble wisdom, they tell me not.

I hold out my trembling hand, and the Spaniard hands back the parchment. My voice quivering, I say in complete surrender, “Come back in the ‘morrow. It shall be done.”

The friar sits down on the table before him, and holds out a fresh quill.

“Now, Dr. Cranmer, or Her Majesty’s offer is not guaranteed.”

I swallow hard, tears welling. O Lord forgive me.  I take the quill in my hand, and though shaking,  dip the quill in ink and seal my fate.

—– fade to black —–

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Given the overwhelming breadth of the magnificent life of Saint Thomas More, many people do not realize that he was an outstanding poet. In memory of Saint Thomas More, his poem, “The Words of Fortune to the People”:
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Lady Fortune and her Wheel. Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

The words of Fortune to the people.
~~ Master Thomas More — 1504 ~~

.Mine high estate, power, and authority
If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.

.Without my favour there is nothing won,
Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better ’tis to be fortunate than wise!
.And therefore have there some men been ere this
My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise.   And other cause there n’is4
But for me list not friendly on them look.5
Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and ‘gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6
.But let them write, their labour is in vain;
For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
The needy wretch that ling’reth in distress
Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8
.But he that by my favour may ascend
To mighty pow’r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
O! in how bless’d condition standeth he,
Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.
.Now in this point there is no more to say,
Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
And he that out of poverty and mischance
List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.

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Saint Thomas More “Prayer Card” of the Roman Catholic Faith

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“Historia Richardi Tertii…” Saint Thomas More — 7 February, 1478 to 6 July 1535

July 6, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Tudor Y Writer's Group, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

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Richard III

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Men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble; and who so doth us a good turn, we write it in dust.

— Saint Thomas More, History of King Richard III 

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Sir Thomas More

Here at Chelsea, I find my refuge. Now resigned from His Grace’s service, I find my peace. This evening I entertain my dear friend, Bishop John Fisher. I need to be near men of like mind, like conscience, and like values. The stench of court is overwhelming, the corruption raised to the very right and left of the King, the devilry all around him, like a thick, dense fog. I raise my goblet in toast and smile. “Fortune changes with character, dear friend. Fortune often changes with character.”

The Bishop nods back with a smile. I pause and reflect a moment. “So what do you think? I wrote that years ago, and yet only my dear Erasmus and now you have laid eyes upon it. My heart bleeds infinitely as although unfinished, it foretells our sorry state.”

Bishop John Fisher

Sir Thomas More, such a learned man, such a wise man, such a Godly man. I fear we will martyr together, along with my dearest Maid of Kent, yet I pray if God’s will, it be done to celebrate His glory, to celebrate our beloved Bishop of Rome, for in this realm Satan curses them both. Here at Chelsea, with this man’s gentle wisdom and his loving family, I feel our Virgin Mary close, so close my heart fills with love for her. I hold up the parchments along with my goblet of ale. “Thomas, Historia Richardi Tertii is magnificent, though damning… and aye, yes, much vision it provides. I trust the words on the parchment were written with divine intervention.”

Sir Thomas More:

I look to the fire, my mind full. Free finally to speak my conscience with a man I trust, I venture, “Your Grace, you are too kind.”

I decide to lighten the mood. God knows we both need it. “Did you hear Cardinal Pole’s latest missive?” The Bishop shakes his head no. “He declares Cromwell the ‘Emissary of Satan’. His Eminence speaks truth.”

We both laugh lightly, and I say in all seriousness as I point to the parchments, “Can you imagine what the King’s Secretary would do with that retelling of the sinfulness of the child killer, the monster King Richard the Third and the corrupt men around him? The man would crucify me, nail me straight to the cross. Cromwell is so full of himself, the man would think this all be an allegory of dear Harry, the sinful Archbishop and him.”

Bishop John Fisher

I snicker and nod in agreement. “Yes, I fear so. Best this be well hidden, good man. Your commentary on the failures of kingship, the corruption inherent in nobles and the clergy to gain advantage, your profession that the people need reign in truth by Parliament, is damning. Power corrupts, and absolute power especially so, I dare say.”

I point to the parchments. “You lay that bare here. ‘The lamb is given to the wolf’.”

I lay the parchments down on my lap and sigh deep. “I will never take the oaths, Thomas. A king supreme over God’s clergy as if God himself? Never. ‘Tis devilry personified.”

Sir Thomas More

I rise and stoke the fire, speaking as I do. “Me either, Your Grace, but it best we comment on our opinions not. Then by law we should be safe, but we will not I do fear. His Majesty and Cromwell make the laws or change the laws to suit their purpose. What be law today be treason tomorrow.”

I turn, look at Bishop Fisher, anxiety suddenly filling me whole. “Cromwell and the Archbishop, they are like King Richard’s secret second council, but spinning their evil web for all to see, His Majesty stuck within it, like an angry wasp. We will be stung, and stung deep, either by their attacks on the Holy Maid of Kent, God keep her — or their insistence all take an oath that the King is now God Himself.”

I take a deep breath, and rest back into my favorite chair, worn thin. “I am ready to martyr if need be, but my family suffers at the thought of it, my Alice wailing at every turn. Only my dear Margaret understands me, Lord God bless her. It is with she I will trust those parchments, no one else. If there ever be a day it is safe to promulgate, my Margaret knows to do so.”

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King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

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Bishop John Fisher

“I will pray for you all, dear friend. I have no family I need so worry, just my conscience.  Though God’s will is clear, you suffer more. May the Virgin Mary protect you all through these days of misery.”

I draw a deep breath and drink some ale, my throat parched. “Thomas do listen. The Archbishop, he knows how close I am with the Holy Maid of Kent, how I revere her and the priests that so take charge of her care, but you have been more cautious in your dealings. I suggest you keep quiet. What Lord God knows, they need not know.”

Sir Thomas More

I smile awkwardly, my full truth known but to me, the Maid and God. “Aye, the Archbishop is a two headed serpent, good man. As he burned the heretic Frith for denying the presence, a sin even obvious to him, so Canterbury will burn our beloved Maid. Anyone who oversteps his arbitrary mark, heretic or God’s messenger, is doomed.”

Bishop John Fisher

I drink some ale and ponder his words of Canterbury. “As I read of Queen Elizabeth on these parchments, may she rest with the angels, I wondered why she did so allow the Cardinal with the care of her sons? Was she too trusting? Did she lack judgment? Was she blinded somehow, leading to a poor twist of fate? A quandary, yes, a quandary.”

I pause, and then continue. “And, was His Eminence King Richard’s unwitting dupe? Or as Archbishop Cranmer is for King Henry, his knowing accomplice?” I sigh. “You leave many questions unanswered, dear friend, but this much of our current plight is clear. The Archbishop’s treatment of our rightful Queen Catherine and the Princess Mary is of Satan. May his heresy be laid bare and burnt out from him.”

I cross myself, and dearest Thomas does likewise. “God make it so.”

Sir Thomas More

I nod and rub my the crucifix around my neck, so long there ’tis worn thin. “Yes, God make it so. Burn the heresy out, I do pray.”

I say pointedly, “The Archbishop, the Lord Chancellor, Wiltshire, and Cromwell — they are fools, more so than the bonny Will Somers. As I wrote to you, ‘If the lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.’ Your Grace, the lion now roars. So long as he keeps the love of the people, Harry will stomp his way across this blessed realm, killing all we know as dear. I blame the heretics for turning him, the pretend queen, the Archbishop and Cromwell most pointedly — a whorish concubine, a chaplain of Luther, and a low born rogue — all Satan’s clergy.”

Bishop John Fisher

“Your speak truth, dear man. Satan’s clergy indeed.”

I attempt to rise, my gout aching to my bones as I do. Thomas rushes to me, guiding me to my feet. I place my hand on his shoulder to steady myself and speak plain.”Thomas, I grow frail. Perhaps the Saints will intercede, God calling me home before the henchman, eh?”

He nods, and rests his head for a moment on my shoulder, as a son to his father. “I do need your help to find my courage. Pray for me, Thomas. I fear I will waver. I wish to die in my bed, truth be told.”

Sir Thomas More

I place my hands on the shoulders of this dear and holy man of God. “May we find the simple and innocent grace of children, the simple and innocent grace of the boy King and the blessed imp Duke — and with all humility, may we move forward, as God’s lesson in conscience, God’s lesson in His ultimate truth.”

—– Fade To Black —–

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This video focusing on the life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More is part of a video series from Wordonfire.org. Father Robert Barron comments on subjects from modern day culture from a Roman Catholic perspective. For more information and videos visit http://www.wordonfire.org/

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NOTE:  The History of King Richard III, though unfinished, is widely considered to highlight Saint Thomas More’s veiled views of the perils of excessive power and political corruption. More “historical fiction” than “accurate history”, this work greatly influenced the writing of William Shakespeare. To read “Historia Richardi Tertii” click here: http://www.thomasmorestudies.org/docs/Richard.pdf

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QAB Interview With Matthew Lewis, Author of “Loyalty: Father, Husband, Brother, King”

August 22, 2013 in Historical Fiction, QAB Guest Interviews and Chats, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

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Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers caught up with Matthew Lewis, author of the self-published novel Loyalty: Father, Husband, Brother, King.  Here Matt answers some questions about his increasing popular novel and provides advice from his experience in self-publishing.
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1. Loyalty is narrated by Saint Thomas More, and although the story is of King Richard III, the timeline is set within the reign of King Henry VIII. What gave you the idea for this very unique approach?
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The story of King Richard’s life is told by Thomas More to artist Hans Holbein for a very specific reason. No spoilers, but the theory has been around for a while yet is not well known outside Ricardian circles. Nevertheless it is one that has fascinated me for a long time. Having King Richard’s life narrated allows us to dive in and out of key events relevant to More’s story, but also begs questions about More. Not least, is he telling the truth? He wrote his History of King Richard III but never completed it and it was published by his nephew after his death. Why was this? Did he feel guilty for conspiring in state-sponsored lies? Did he find out something unexpected? Or did he just get bored writing something that was becoming old hat? It is being able to ask all of these questions that gave me the idea of having the two separate but inextricably linked timelines.
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2. There is a common perception among historians and history enthusiasts of King Richard III being a villainous historical figure. How much do you believe Tudor monarchs and Tudor era figures such as Saint Thomas More and William Shakespeare fed into these perceptions? And to follow-up on that, how accurate do you find them?
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 Richard III’s bad reputation accumulated throughout the Tudor era, reaching its apex with Shakespeare’s brilliant portrayal of evil personified, of ruthless ambition unrestrained by morality. How the stories became fact is interesting, not least because I suspect much of it was accident. Clearly the Tudors had a vested interest in creating a monster out of Richard III. Edward IV’s blood was married to Henry VII and flowed in the veins of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. As a result, it was beyond reproach. Richard III sat alone between Edward IV and Henry VII with none left to defend him – at least not if they wanted to keep their heads! He was an easy target and Henry VII was keen to paint a picture of a kingdom that needed to be saved from a tyrant. He was that saviour by virtue of his victory at Bosworth, so he needed Richard to become the tyrant. The passage of the story is intriguing. Thomas More spent time in the household of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry VII’s rule. Morton was an arch enemy of Richard’s, credited with turning Buckingham against him. So the story moved from Morton to More and then was drawn on by Shakespeare. It is interesting that if you look at what More writes about Richard it is all couched in rumour and he is careful to point out that he is only reporting what he has heard. Shakespeare could hardly write his play based on rumour, so Richard had to definitively become the villain then. That is the image that has stuck, even though I don’t think Shakespeare expected his audience to see Richard III in his play, but that is another story! One interesting aspect following the discovery of his skeleton is the stories of his physical appearance. Ricardians (myself included) have long written off the tales of a weak man with uneven shoulders, Shakespeare’s hunchback with a withered arm extending the myth – how could he have been the mighty warrior he was reported to be? Doubtless Shakespeare exaggerated his depiction, not least to point to his real meaning, but there appears to have been a grain of truth in all of this, with his gracile bones and scoliosis. It goes to show that even the most hostile, biased sources are not necessarily entirely wrong and so adds to our understanding of the source material available and its reliability.
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3. When and how did you develop such a strong interest in the Lancaster and Plantaganet Eras of English history?
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I first studied the Wars of the Roses at school and was gripped by it immediately. People think Game of Thrones is brutal, ruthless and complex. Try the Wars of the Roses. And that’s all real! Richard’s story also grabbed me because the smallest amount of study reveals so much. Just start picking at the corners of the facade the Tudor’s created for him and the whole thing comes crumbling down. I find that the more I read about this period the less I think I know. There is always another family that crops up or a feud I didn’t know about that adds another dimension to the era and its people, and it is the people who fascinate me. We are quick to forget in all of the killing and loss that these were living breathing people, just like you and I.
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4. You are a self-published author. Given the extreme difficulty writers face in successfully having their first works traditionally published, what advice can you provide to people considering self-publishing as an option?
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Self-publishing has been a bit of a trial, some of it self-inflicted! My first piece of advice to anyone seeking to be taken seriously is to invest some money in having your manuscript proof read first. I published Loyalty with a shrug assuming nothing would come of it and when I sold some the first batch of reviews commented on the typos and errors that detracted from the story. Having resolved these I have seen a vast improvement in sales and reviews, though obviously that early flaw has left a bitter taste (and some reviews that aren’t as good as I would have hoped!). So, although it costs money up front, I would say that having your manuscript proof read is a must if you want to cultivate some credibility. My second piece of advice would be to do it! I’ve really enjoyed myself and it has turned from a dream into something more serious and I am loving every moment. If I had never taken the leap, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of talking to you about it now! The third thing that I would say is be prepared to do some work. However averse you may be to social media, join Twitter, Facebook, start a blog. These things are all free and are a way of getting yourself out there. Famous authors have agents, publishers and advertising houses to deal with this stuff. You have you. Your pc and smartphone are about to become your best friends and greatest marketing tools. Finally, develop a thick skin. Accept before you start that you cannot please everyone. I have had two 1 star reviews for Loyalty from people who simply hated it. Out of 50 odd reviews, that’s okay but each one of them hurt, as did each one below 5 stars with any kind of criticism of the story or writing style. You will be more protective of your writing than you imagine and you will be hurt by every criticism but you must learn to live with them, take them in the context of (hopefully) more good than bad reviews and accept from the start that there will be those who just won’t like it and that’s fine (it’s not fine!).
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5. QAB understands you are writing a sequel to Loyalty? Is there anything you want to share with members and browsers?
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The sequel to Loyalty is not too far off now. It will move forward both story lines from Loyalty and will reveal a secret that I don’t think anyone else has yet stumbled upon. I’ve never heard this theory and I’m excited by it!
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Loyalty Cover Kindle
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Matthew Lewis is the author of a brief biography of Richard III, A Glimpse of King Richard III along with a brief overview of A Glimpse of the Wars of the Roses and the novel of King Richard III’s life Loyalty. Matt can also be found on Twitter @mattlewisauthor.

“They Shall Never Deflower Me…” (Y Court)

October 14, 2012 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

 

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Saturday evening at Chelsea, a time usually spend with family. Instead, I await the arrival of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. This man, a mere clerk from Cambridge the Boleyns so wholeheartedly patronized, holds Henry close, counsels our sovereign as a spiritual adviser. Canterbury, along with his allies in all, Cromwell and Audley, aim to “reform” the Church of England, but in truth they are nothing but heathen Lutherans. I know his agenda, Canterbury. Like Cromwell and the Bishops His Majesty has already sent my way, he wants me to take the oaths of succession and supremacy.  Heaven help us. Although I have no regard for the new Queen, I dispute her title not. The supremacy, however, I will never abide by. The Roman Catholic faith is led by His Holy Father, descended from the rock of Saint Peter. Oh Holy Virgin Mother, blessed among women, give me strength so I do not waver over the difficult days ahead.

Alice More: As I enter the study, I see my dear husband sitting by the fire, deep in thought. I walk quietly up to him, place my hand on his shoulder and state simply, “The Arch Bishop is here, Thomas. His barge just arrived at the dock.” He looks up at me, his eyes hollow. “Be careful what you say, Thomas.”

Thomas More: “Do not fret, dear wife. I will say nothing on the matter. In English law, saying nothing infers consent. I will use this as a the way to hold steadfast to the true religion while keeping us safe.”

Alice More: “I fear English law will not matter, my love. Cromwell will just change it to serve his evil purposes. A stroke of his pen and all is lost, not just for you, but for all of us.”

Thomas More: I rise and kiss my wife on the cheek. In truth I never loved this woman, but she is a good and loyal wife and a wonderful mother. Secretly, I fear my wife is right, but there is no need to admit such. “Shhhhhh… fret not, dear. Cromwell is not king of this realm, as much as he may think so.”

Thomas Cranmer: Why did I agree to do this?  Dearest Thomas tried to coax him, as did two of my most learned bishops. The man’s mind is set. The Lord Chancellor fears His Majesty will throw More in The Tower, where Bishop Fisher now sits, if I am unsuccessful. The people love More, respect his opinions and loyalty to the crown. This we need not, so here I am, stepping from my barge onto the dock at Chelsea. As one of More’s servants leads me to his estate, I look around the gardens. Dearest Thomas is right… a most bizarre collection of animals frolic freely. To what purposes is this? Does the man plan to rebuild Noah’s arc? Send these creatures through the English Channel two by two? I point over to a creature, and ask the servant… “What in heavens name is that good man?” He looks at me and smiles. “Why that would be a ferret, Your Grace.” I shake my head in disbelief. With hungry mouths throughout this kingdom, this man feeds “ferrets”. God forgive him. He is but a barrister.

Thomas More: I stand by my sitting room window and watch on as His Grace approaches. He does not seem duly impressed with my menagerie. Too bad, t’is my hobby, and whether he likes it or not I do not care to bother. So here he is, Queen Anne’s man, the Boleyn installed Arch Bishop, the man who befriends the likes of Lutheran minded politicians that he then sets loose to do his dirt work.  Though his hands are clean, his soul is not. As he is allowed entry to my home, I take a long deep breath and await his announcement. “Sir Thomas, I present the Arch Bishop of Canterbury.” As Canterbury steps forward, I bow politely. “Welcome to Chelsea, Your Grace. Please do sit by the fire. My wife Alice will bring us some wine.” I look over at Alice and nod.

Thomas Cranmer: Oh my, the portrait. It’s more gaudy and huge than even Dearest Thomas did describe. “Thank you for your gracious hospitality and for agreeing to meet with me, Sir Thomas.” I look over to his wife, lowered to the likes of maid servant by the looks of it. “And thank you, as well, Lady Alice. Wine by the fire would be most welcome to take off this January winter chill.” I sit down as invited, and More takes a seat across from me. I look upon his mantle. A false idol of the Virgin Mary stares upon me. I look away before my discontent is obvious.

Thomas More: I gaze upon Canterbury, and speaking hospitably but also directly. “Your Grace, to what do I owe this pleasure? His Majesty sent his dutiful secretary and two of your most learned bishops to call on me. Did he send you, as well?”

Thomas Cranmer: More’s wife pours me a goblet of wine, and hands it to me graciously. “Why thank you, Lady Alice. You are most kind.” I take a sip of this most bitter blend and reply matter-of-factly. “No, Sir Thomas. His Majesty no longer asserts himself in such matters. I was sent to you at the bequest of the Vicar General.” I smile broadly, as I know this will peak his curiosity.

Thomas More: “What is and who is a Vicar General? This is a new office, then?” I feel I know where this is going, and God help us, God help England.

Thomas Cranmer: I hold his gaze and smile. “Why, yes Sir Thomas… a new office, and a quite important one. The Vicar General is responsible for the oversight of church doctrine, and ‘with authority to undertake, by himself or his agents, a general visitation of churches, monasteries, and clergy’, and to bring them into line with the new order. Our Vicar General of spirituals is His Majesty’s Chief Secretary, of course. Whom else would it be?”

Thomas More: I look incredulous, I’m sure. “A layman in charge of church doctrine?”

Thomas Cranmer:  I swallow hard and compose my thoughts upon hearing his flip response. “Any man of knowledge can read and understand the scriptures, Sir Thomas. Surely you know that by now.” I drink some more wine and add, “The Vicar General would have visited you himself, but for some reason he believes you think of him as Satan himself.”

Thomas More: I answer carefully, refusing to address Cromwell with the most recent of his accumulating titles.  “Chief Secretary Cromwell works diligently and exhaustively for His Majesty’s interests, I know.” I then add… “And this reminds me of the old Greek fable I so desire you and the Chief Secretary to be wary of as you carry out your duties, as I pray you give His Majesty good counsel… ”A wolf once decided to change his nature by changing his appearance, and thus get plenty to eat. He put on a sheepskin and accompanied the flock to the pasture. The shepherd was fooled by the disguise. When night fell, the shepherd shut up the wolf in the fold with the rest of the sheep and as the fence was placed across the entrance, the sheepfold was securely closed off. But when the shepherd wanted a sheep for his supper, he took his knife and killed the wolf.’ You tread in dangerous waters, Your Grace. Do be careful. I wish no harm. I  say no harm. I think no harm. And I wish no harm to you or Master Crowmell.”

Thomas Cranmer: Did the man just say His Majesty will turn on Thomas and me? I look back and quickly retort,  “Or as is true of papal authority, Sir Thomas, scripture teaches us ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.'” He looks surprised at my response. Does he think me daft? I add most sincerely, “Sir Thomas… I strongly advise you take the oath as His Majesty so desires. I need not tell you Bishop Fisher is already imprisoned in The Tower. And I wish no harm to you.” As he readies to reply, I hold up my hand to stop him, and with an appeal to his senses add, “Sir Thomas. The scriptures of the Old Testament are clear on this. Kings David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah all ruled over the secular and ecclesiastical. The royal supremacy is clear in the Lord’s Holy Word, and in scripture you will find no mention of a pope. Do see the truth in this, and take the oath.”

Thomas More: I take in a deep breath, feeling dirty from the heretical words he just did speak. I respond most carefully. “I appreciate your spiritual guidance, Your Grace. I freely make no quarrel with the Queen’s right to accession, nor the rights of her and His Majesty’s begotten to reign true, but I choose not to take the oath of supremacy.” I add most directly in a composed tone, “In fact, I choose to speak nothing of it at all.”

Thomas Cranmer: Heavens, dearest Thomas is right. This man seeks self-serving martyrdom. I hold up my goblet in toast, “Spoken like a true barrister, Sir Thomas. Touche.” I look over at the huge Holbein, so gaudy and ostentatious… “Is that your lovely family so depicted with you, Sir Thomas?” He nods. “I do pray you think of them and reconsider.”

Thomas More: “I will corrupt my soul not, Your Grace. I will not take the oath, and I choose to speak nothing more of it one way or the other.”

Thomas Cranmer: “As you wish.” As I rise, he does also and we bow politely. “Thank you for your welcoming hospitality, Sir Thomas. I must take my leave now as duties at Lambeth await. Good evening, sir.”

Thomas More: “Good evening and may God be with you, Your Grace.” As he leaves, I swallow hard and thank the Virgin Mary, Mother of God for her graceful intercession. I held firm, but as I look down I see my hands tremble slightly. My arrest in now imminent, His Grace so did warn me. I walk slowly over to my prayer alter, grab hold of my emerald rosary beads, and drop to me knees in prayer.

“… Give me O Lord, I pray Thee
firm faith, unwavering hope
perfect charity.
Pour into my heart
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding
the Spirit of counsel and spiritual strength
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness
and the Spirit of Thy holy fear
Light eternal, shine in my heart
Power eternal, deliver me from evil
Wisdom eternal, scatter the darkness of my ignorance
Might eternal, pity me
Grant that I may ever seek Thy face
with all my heart and soul and strength;
and, in thine infinite mercy,
bring me at last to Thy holy presence
where I shall behold Thy glory
and possess Thy promised joys…”

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