The Martyrdom of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

July 28, 2016 in News, The Tudor Thomases by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 18th century © National Portrait Gallery, London

after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 18th century
© National Portrait Gallery, London

_______________________________

“Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!”

– Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex –

_______________________________

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, is a study in contrasts. Bearer of a complicated legacy, Cromwell is often demonized for his role in the falls and ultimate executions of Elizabeth Barton, Saint John Fisher, Saint Thomas More, Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry Pole, Henry Courtenay and several others. Vilified for his leadership and efficiency in orchestrating the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Thomas Cromwell with his king’s support and approval ended a way of life going back centuries.

In stark contrast, Thomas Cromwell is also heralded as the architect of the Henrican Reformation. A self-made man who rose from dire poverty, Cromwell brought the English language Bible to England and Wales, stabilized the English economy, patronized the arts, advocated for the poor and down-trodden, and as a “man of laws” changed the very face of Parliament, introducing the notion that governmental laws could and should be established and approved through representation of the people.

It is no surprise then that historian Edward Hall noted, “Many lamented, but more rejoiced,” when Thomas Cromwell was arrested on 10 June 1540.

John Foxe by Martin Droeshout line engraving, 1620s-1630s © National Portrait Gallery, London

John Foxe
by Martin Droeshout
line engraving, 1620s-1630s
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Painted by his detractors as a traitor and “secret sacramentarian”, a sinful heretic who not only denied Roman Catholic transubstantiation but also the Lutheran sacramental union, Thomas Cromwell died via a botched beheading from an inexperienced executioner on Tower Hill, his severed head speared onto a spike placed in exhibition on London Bridge.

Though most view Thomas Cromwell as either a “hero of the common man” or “evil incarnate”, 476 years ago today, 28 July 1540, Cromwell died as neither. Instead, as much as most people rarely consider the possibility, this complex intellectual genius who changed the face of England died a religious martyr for his faith. Martyrist John Foxe honored him alongside other heralded Protestant martyrs in his famous, albeit heavily biased historical accountings — and justifiably so. As Foxe proclaimed in his Book of Martyrs:

In this worthy and noble person, besides divers other eminent virtues, three things especially are to be considered, to wit, flourishing authority, excelling wisdom, and fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel. First, as touching his fervent zeal in setting forward the sincerity of Christian faith, sufficient is to be seen before by the injunctions, proclamations, and articles… that more cannot almost be wished in a nobleman, and scarce the like hath been seen in any.

How could this be? Thomas Cromwell, a religious martyr?

Foxe’s assessment of Cromwell’s “fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel” is not overstated. As early as 1524, Cromwell showed plainly his desire to reform the Church in England through his association with merchants such as Thomas Somer, a stock fishmonger who was a known smuggler of evangelical heretical books, including Tyndale’s New Testament.

By 1530, Thomas Cromwell’s faith demonstrated decisively a commitment to fostering of “the new learning” within the realm. Within a year, he was smuggling and organizing the translation and printing of Lutheran works, most notably The Apology of the Augsburg Confession by Philipp Melanchthon. With Sir Thomas More and John Stokesley, Bishop of London, actively chasing heretics, burning six evangelical smugglers at the stake, Thomas Cromwell certainly took dangerous risks to foster his reformist religious agenda – all activities known, and likely far more unknown, accomplished with great secrecy before his service to or any protection from King Henry VIII.

__________________

“My prayer is that God give me no longer life than I shall be glad to use my office in edification and not in destruction.”

– Thomas Cromwell

__________________

To all living in 16th century Tudor England, there was only one true religion, all those disbelieving heretics. The problem became disagreement on what exactly the true religion was. 16th-century religion was serious business. Unfortunately for the subjects of the realm, just what religion one was to adhere to changed with the theological whims of the reigning monarchs and was particularly confusing during the reign of King Henry VIII. Overstep the mark of the king’s ever-changing religious philosophies, and a person would quickly become the victim of judicial murder.

after Unknown artist line engraving, possibly late 18th century © National Portrait Gallery, London

after Unknown artist
line engraving, possibly late 18th century
© National Portrait Gallery, London

As loyal as Thomas Cromwell was to Henry VIII through his ten years of faithful service, eventually he crossed the religious line of the king over an issue the monarch actually never wavered upon. The truth of the matter was that though a sinner by his own admission, Thomas Cromwell, like other evangelicals and Lutherans, believed heart and soul in justification by faith alone. Once King Henry VIII understood what this all meant upon digesting a rousing sermon by Cromwell’s rival Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, at St. Paul’s Cross on the first day of Lent 1540, Thomas Cromwell’s days were numbered.

King Henry VIII, though hateful of the papacy, still held close many Roman Catholic tenants, particularly the notion that abundant good works combined with faith were needed for salvation. This disagreement in religious belief ultimately became a sticking point in the King Henry VIII’s relationship with his most faithful servant, enabling the king to ultimately order Cromwell’s execution after his detractors, most notably Stephen Gardiner and other high ranking conservative clergy, along with Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, orchestrated Cromwell’s arrest and imprisonment upon certainly false charges.

Perhaps most convincing of Thomas Cromwell’s “fervent zeal to Christ and to his gospel” was his speech to those witness to his execution. Though many people, particularly historical fiction writers and arm-chair historians, mistakenly assume Cromwell recanted his Lutheran beliefs by proclaiming, “I die in the Catholic faith, not doubting in any article of my faith…” during his final speech, he, like Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer, Philipp Melanchthon and other Lutherans and evangelicals, used the term “Catholic” to mean the “Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. To this day, Lutherans and Anglicans are Catholics. What they are not are papists or “Roman” Catholics, neither term used by Cromwell.

Instead of the recantation many assumed was offered, Thomas Cromwell professed clearly and pointedly to those in witness, to his family, to his king, and to his God his steadfast belief that his salvation could only be justified through his faith and his faith alone. He prayed at the block,

I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope and trust is in thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits or good works with I may allege before thee… Of sins and evil works, alas, I see a great heap… but through thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but will take and accept me for righteous and just…

With Thomas Cromwell’s staunch Lutheran beliefs intact, like Cardinal John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, John Frith, John Lambert, the Carthusian Monks, Father John Forest, and his blessed William Tyndale before him, Thomas Cromwell died a religious martyr to his faith. Though often forgotten, ignored or dispelled, that truth remains undaunted.

_______________________________

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury by Pieter Stevens van Gunst line engraving, published 1707 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
by Pieter Stevens van Gunst
line engraving, published 1707
© National Portrait Gallery, London

_______________________________

Surviving Partial Letter Composed by

Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII

14 June 1540

_______________________________

…….. I heard yesterday in your Grace’s Council, that he [Crumwell] is a traitor, yet who cannot be sorrowful and amazed that he should be a traitor against your Majesty, he that was so advanced by your Majesty; he whose surety was only by your Majesty; he who loved your Majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God; he who studied always to set forwards whatsoever was your Majesty’s will and pleasure; he that cared for no man’s displeasure to serve your Majesty; he that was such a servant in my judgmentt, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience, as no prince in this realm ever had; he that was so vigilant to preserve your Majesty from all treasons, that few could be so secretly conceived, but he detected the same in the beginning? If the noble princes of memory, King John, Henry the Second, and Richard II had had such a counsellor about them, I suppose that they should never have been so traitorously abandoned, and overthrown as those good princes were:

…….. I loved him as my friend, for so I took him to be; but I chiefly loved him for the love which I thought I saw him bear ever towards your Grace, singularly above all other. But now, if he be a traitor, I am sorry that ever I loved him or trusted him, and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in time; but yet again I am very sorrowful; for who shall your Grace trust hereafter, if you might not trust him? Alas! I bewail and lament your Grace’s chance herein, I wot not whom your Grace may trust. But I pray God continually night and day, to send such a counsellor in his place whom your Grace may trust, and who for all his qualities can and will serve your Grace like to him, and that will have so much solicitude and care to preserve your Grace from all dangers as I ever thought he had…….. [14 June 1540.]

_______________________________

Sir Thomas Wyatt By J. Thurston, engraved by W.H. Worthinton after a drawing by Hans Holbein the younger in the Buckingham Library from Charles Cowden Clarke, The Poetic Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt
By J. Thurston, engraved by W.H. Worthinton after
a drawing by Hans Holbein the younger in the
Buckingham Library from Charles Cowden Clarke,
The Poetic Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt

_______________________________

Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Poem Heralding

the Execution of Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex

_______________________________

THE pillar perish’d is whereto I leant,

The strongest stay of my unquiet mind;

The like of it no man again can find,

From east to west still seeking though he went,

To mine unhap, for hap away hath rent

Of all my joy the very bark and rind,

And I, alas, by chance am thus assign’ d

Daily to mourn, till death do it relent.

But since that thus it is by destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart;

My pen in plaint, my voice in careful cry,

My mind in woe, my body full of smart;

And I myself, myself always to hate,

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.

– Sir Thomas Wyatt

_______________________________

Coat of Arms Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

Coat of Arms
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex

_______________________________

SOURCES:


Cranmer, Thomas, Archbishop, Letter of Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII, Regarding Thomas Cromwell, Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature.

Foxe, John, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 195. Thomas Cromwell.

Loades, David, Thomas Cromwell, Servant to Henry VIII, Amberley Publishing, Gloucestershire, 2013.

Schofield, John, The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant, The History Press, Gloucestershire, 2008.

Wyatt, Thomas, THE pillar perished is whereto I leant, Luminarium: Renaissance Literature.

_______________________________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth vo

Beth von Staats

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

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

__________________________________

"Thomas Cranmer In a Nutshell" Final Blog Stop

Thomas Cranmer -mini-bio

TO PURCHASE THOMAS CRANMER IN A NUTSHELL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

(free of charge via Kindle Unlimited)

THOMAS CRANMER IN A NUTSHELL

__________________________________

“Cromwell Was Not a Nice Guy”, by Kyra Cornelius Kramer

May 19, 2015 in 2015 Tribute to Queen Anne Boelyn, Guest Writers, News by Beth von Staats

by Kyra Cornelius Cranmer

____________________________

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

 ____________________________

Thanks to the excellent writing of Hilary Mantel’s books Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies, Thomas Cromwell’s reputation has undergone something of a renaissance. In her novels, Mantel pointed out (rightly so) that Cromwell was good to his dependents and very intelligent. Even historians like me, who consider him to be a total schmuck, will acknowledge that he was one of the smartest and most capable ministers Henry VIII ever had. However, in making him the hero of her novels Mantel had to contend with some very unheroic historical facts about Cromwell. In her writing, Mantel excuses Cromwell’s perfidies and orchestrated murders by 1) making Anne Boleyn and her family detestable villains whose downfall at Cromwell’s hands was an act of justice and 2) explaining his vengeance against the men falsely executed for having sex with the queen in terms of Cromwell’s loyalty to Cardinal Wolsey.

The trouble with these excuses is that they are fiction. That’s why Mantel’s books are called historical fiction. There are parts of it wherein the author made stuff up to give the narrative more strength. That is excellent writing, but not accurate history.

2f104fa737ec41709b37602527426963

All the evidence suggests that Cromwell’s real beef with Anne and her family was that they were obstacles in his path to power. Anne and her faction had too much influence over the king for Cromwell’s comfort. Furthermore, Anne was trying to prevent Cromwell from sacking the Catholic monasteries like a Visigoth. The queen wanted some of them left to promote learning and provide succor for the poor, while Cromwell wanted every last ha’penny squeezed from them before destroying them.

As Eric Ives pointed out in his biography of Anne Boleyn, “Anne’s support for the redeployment of monastic resources directly contradicted Cromwell’s intention to put the proceeds of the dissolution into the king’s coffers. The bill dissolving the smaller monasteries had passed both houses of parliament in mid-March, but before the royal assent was given Anne launched her chaplains on a dramatic preaching campaign to modify royal policy…. Cromwell was pilloried before the whole council as an evil and greedy royal adviser from the Old Testament, and specifically identified as the queen’s enemy. Nor could the minister shrug off this declaration of war, even though, in spite of Anne’s efforts, the dissolution act became law.” (pg. 27)

Cromwell needed Anne out of the way if he wanted to keep pushing his agenda unimpeded. From that point on, Cromwell and the anti-Anne faction were looking for an opening to destroy her. Thus, when Anne told Henry Norris that he looked for “dead men’s shoes”, Cromwell leaped on this transgression and spun it into a tale of adultery that convinced Henry VIII to kill his wife.

Francis Weston Artist Unknown

Francis Weston
Artist Unknown

Cromwell also convinced Henry to behead five innocent men. It is easy to see why he singled out Norris and Mark Smeaton – they had complimented Anne lavishly and pretended to be madly in love with her, as men were wont to do as part of playing at ‘courtly love’ in that time period. Sir Francis Weston was also would-be Lothario who hung around in Anne’s rooms and made goo-goo eyes at her and her ladies in waiting — and was ergo convenient to accuse of adultery with the queen.

It also makes sense for Cromwell to accuse Anne’s brother, George Boleyn, of sleeping with his sister as a way to imprison him and keep him away from Henry. George was (until accused of incest) a favorite of the kings and would have defended his sister. For Cromwell’s plan to go off without a hitch, Anne’s brother had to be silenced and as far away from Henry as possible. But why did Cromwell go after William Brereton? Brereton wasn’t one of Anne’s faux-suitors and was actively against the Boleyn faction. How did he wind up beheaded for having an affair with her? The most likely answer is that Brereton was rich, strong willed, and an opponent of Cromwell’s. Naming him among Anne’s lovers had a twofold purpose; it was a neat way to dispatch an enemy and it also provided ‘evidence’ that it wasn’t just Anne’s friends and allies who were getting the chop. Cromwell was covering his tracks with a dusting of plausible deniability.

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

The ugly truth of Thomas Cromwell is that he was willing to arrange the judicial murder of a woman and five men simply to consolidate his power and give himself an unchallenged sphere influence around the king. His appetite for consequence was such that he would ruthlessly slaughter anyone who opposed him, and he was smart enough not to have to dirty his own hands with the wet work. Cromwell was more Nero than hero, and even a wordsmith of Hilary Mantel’s caliber cannot present him as anything but a monster without the liberal use of invention.

____________________________

Kyra Cornelius Kramer

Kyra Cornelius Kramer

Editor’s note: Kyra’s biography is provided by her website, Krya Cornelius Kramer and is provided to us in her own words.

Kyra Cornelius Kramer is an author and freelance medical anthropologist. She holds BS degrees in both biology and anthropology from the University of Kentucky, as well as a MA in medical anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She  and her beloved husband live in Bloomington, Indiana, USA with their three young daughters.

Kyra is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Kyra is high-functioning, meaning that most of the time Kyra can pass for “quirky” with a dash of “gauche”. As a function of being an “Aspy”, she has a deep and abiding love for facts, which she stuffs into her writings like chestnuts in a Christmas goose. Seriously, you will knee-deep in facts by the time you are three paragraphs into her work. Moreover, she has a sardonic sense of humor that flavors her writings, no matter how academic they are in nature. Her editors appreciate this, but the review board usually makes her take any humor out before publishing in a peer reviewed journal. Kyra hopes that the academic reviewers were at least amused before they crossed the sentence out with heavy red pencil marks. She suspects not.

Editor’s note: For more information about the remarkable accomplishments of Kyra Cornelius Kramer, do visit her website linked above. Queenanneboleyn.com will be publishing a review of Kyra’s newly released book The Jezebel Effect: Why Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters in the coming days.

__________________________

The Jezebel Effect

To Purchase The Jezebel Effect: Why Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters

CLICK THE LINK BELOW!

THE JEZEBEL EFFECT

__________________________

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

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

by Beth von Staats

 ________________________________________________

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

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

________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas Cromwell (Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

Thomas Cromwell
(Artist: Hans Holbein the Younger)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESOURCES:

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

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

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

Wikipedia, Austin Friars, London

________________________________________________

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

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

________________________________________________

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

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

________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

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

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

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

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

________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

________________________________________________

Permission From The King, UK Court

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

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

image

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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….

image

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.”

crom

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.”

image

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.”

photo (15)

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.”

image

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

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

imageEustace Chapuys

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

_____________________________________________________

Elizabeth Cromwell

_____________________________________________________

“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.

_____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

 

King Henry VIII

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

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

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

 ____________________________________________________

King Henry VIII

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

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

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

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

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

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

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

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

__________

Thomas Cromwell

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

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

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

__________

King Henry VIII

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

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

_______________________________________

Writers:

King Henry VIII: Cyndi Williamson, Florida, USA

Thomas Cromwell: Beth von Staats, Massachusetts, USA

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

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

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

____________________________________________________

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHT

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

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

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

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

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

____________________________________________________

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel

TO PURCHASE A BOOK AUTHORED BY HILARY MANTEL

CLICK THE LINK BELOW

BOOKS BY HILARY MANTEL ON AMAZON.COM

____________________________________________________

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.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“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 —

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.”

__________________________________________________________

 

“Gentle Wyatt ~ Goodbye ~ Pray For Me!” (Thomas Cromwell, Executed July 28, 1540)

July 28, 2014 in Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.” 

 ~~Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Heresy. Damned to hell for heresy, so the attainder says, so Audley says, so Gardiner says, so Norfolk says, so Rich says and due to their evilness, so his Majesty, the God here on earth my father slaved to says. The bastards, for years they were determined to make it so, and today they get their way. My wife, my Elizabeth, she is distraught, overwhelmed, disgusted. Always at my side, today she carries me. Always tolerant of my shortcomings, today she forgives all. For the last seven years, I carried his secret, their secret… and today the promises made begin in earnest. She knew of my promises not, and agrees to them anyway. “Come here, dear.” I draw her in close, and she gives me a warm hug. “Elizabeth, I am heading to The Tower. I pray they allow me to see him. I need to reassure my father that we are prepared to carry forward.” My wife gently weeps, and I wipe her tears. “Wait here, love. After he goes to God, we need to ride out.”  How will I find the words? How do I look them in the eyes, without breaking in two? My heart bleeds, my stomach turns, and my soul blackens at the thought of what I must do. Oh my God, give me strength. This situation is hopeless all but for Your benevolent intervention.

As I enter The Tower, all eyes are upon me, and Sir William Kingston accompanies me to father’s cell. The man looks near to meet his maker, prematurely aged by the dampness and death of this place. “This must be quick, Gregory. Within the hour, the execution will commence. I pray the ax falls swift and true, though nothing goes easy for your father.” Kingston is right, far more so than he even knows. Low born, my father worked exhaustively and clawed his way up to the power he held so close to His Majesty. Now stripped of all titles, he is low once again. Was it all worth it? Most would say no, but they know him not… they know his life, his dreams, his love for his family not. All they see is the monster in their mind created by the hate of his enemies, not the man I know, not the man I love. More the pity.  The sound of the lock unbolting churns in my mind as Sir Kingston opens the door, and I look over. There he is, the man who molded me, raised me as any a father could, unshaven, disheveled, his eyes circled black from lack of sleep. Sir Kingston remains, so all hope of speaking freely is gone. I walk towards him, and my father hugs me close.

I look at my father in the eye, and near tears say gently, “I will keep all my promises, father, from this moment forward.”

My father, the man I thought the strongest man in Christendom, nods meekly. “Thank you, Gregory.” He takes off his gold chain and band from beneath his shirt, and hands to me. “You know.”

I look in my hand, and recognize immediately what was handed to me. ‘Tis my mother’s wedding band.  “Yes, father.”

My father places his dirty hand on gently my face and says quietly, “Be strong, Gregory. Stay away from court, and have courage.”

As I nod at my father, Sir Kingston places his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time, Gregory. Go on down to Tower Hill.” As I attempt to hug my father, Sir Kingston pulls me way, “Now Gregory.” I follow his commands. What choice do I have? As I exit out to Tower Hill, my heart freezes. The scaffold lay in the center, with people crowded all about it, pushing forward, with a sickening gleeful desire to see the deed done. Obviously, His Majesty desires to make an example of my father, as a more public death could not be imagined.  A guard escorts me down to the front, and I stand between the only two friends to my father in this hellish place, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Sir Thomas Wyatt. I look back, and see him, his hands chained as if there was any chance on escape, being pulled through the masses. People spit, jeer and pull at him. Behind me, I hear Norfolk and Surrey laughing, as if those bastards have some magical power of avoiding a similar fate. My eyes burn, and tears come. As my father climbs the stairs to the scaffold, I become a little weak at the knees, and Dearest Thomas Cranmer grabs a hold of me.

Thomas Cromwell:  I am racked with fear, but I will show these bastards not. I try to calm my nerves and look out at the crowd, all jeering, many screaming for the executioner to move forward before I have made my peace with His Majesty and with God.  Is she here? No, God willing she will know not until I’m gone. I look over and see my son, and nod to him and His Grace, who is holding onto Gregory with all his might. Thank God for him, making sure my son does not collapse in from of these bastards… my dearest friend in this life, my only friend that knows all. With them I see that gentlest of men, whose words will live on to eternity. I cry out, “Gentle Wyatt ~~ Good Bye ~~ Pray for me!” Oh my, I should have said nothing. The pour gentle soul is  now crying. I try and reassure this blessed poet. “Do not weep for if I were no more guilty than you were when they took you, I should not be in this pass”.

I take a deep breath and begin…  “I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche.* Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.”  Source: Edward Hall

Thomas Cramner: Oh Thomas, faithful to his death, Our Lord will welcome him. I whisper to Gregory, “Your father quotes the Niceen Creed, as did Luther, and refers to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Most of these heretics know what he speaks of not.”

Gregory Cromwell: I am frozen in fear of what comes next, but I find the words I feel my father would share. “Ah, yes. I pray you are careful, Your Grace. Wait, be patient. Your time will come. We need quiet reformists who wait for opportunity, not dead martyrs.”

Thomas Cranmer: I nod. Gregory is right. I need to wait for a better day. It will come, if not with His Majesty than later with his son. I look to Thomas, and our eyes lock. I mouth to him, us so used to hushed tones, I know he’ll hear my message clear. “I’ll carry on. I promise.”

Man From Crowd: “Kill the heretic! Spike his head! Death is not good enough for the likes of him!”

Crowd: A wave of chants flow through the crowd. “Kill him! … Kill him! … Kill him! …  Kill him! … Kill him!”

Thomas Cromwell: I look out at the crowd. There they are, my judge, jury and executioners, Nolfolk, Gardiner and Rich. They stand smugly, Norfolk laughing as the crowd chants, Gardiner and Rich snickering. I glare them down cold and then walk up to the man paid to do the deed. I hand him his payment of crowns, and state, Pray, if possible, cut off the head with one blow, so that I may not suffer much.” 

Gregory Cromwell: I pray silently. “God, give my father strength. Give me strength. Take him home, with you. All he ever did was for His Majesty’s glory, for your glory. As my father walks up to the block, and kneels before it, Sir Wyatt, His Grace and I kneel. I quickly look about to see if this will be a respectful death. No, most remain standing, an insult to my father and all he stood for. My eyes burn through the tears.

Thomas Cranmer: As I kneel, I look down and begin praying. I can’t watch this. I just can’t.  “I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. KNOW that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. HE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Source: Book of Common Prayer.

Thomas Cromwell: As I kneel at the block, in my mind in deadening silence. Instead, visions of my life pass through my mind… my life with her, my life with them.   If she speaks truth, we will be eternally joined. God make it so.  Before I lay my head on the block, I pray earnestly, “O Lord Jesu! which art the only health of all men living, and the everlasting life of them which die in thee, I, wretched sinner, do submit myself wholly unto thy most blessed will; and being sure that the thing cannot perish which is committed unto thy mercy, willingly now I leave this frail and wicked flesh, in sure hope that thou wilt, in better wise, restore it to me again at the last day, in the resurrection of the just. I beseech thee, most merciful Lord Jesu Christ! that thou wilt, by thy grace, make strong my soul against all temptations, and defend me with the buckler of thy mercy against all the assaults of the devil. I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope, and trust, is in, thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits nor good works which I may allege before thee. Of sins and evil works, alas! I see a great heap; but yet, through thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but wilt take and accept me for righteous and just, and to be the inheritor of everlasting life. Thou, merciful Lord! wast born for my sake; thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake; thou didst teach, pray, and fast for my sake; all thy holy actions and works thou wroughtest for my sake; thou sufferedst most grievous pains and torments for my sake: finally, thou gavest thy most precious body and thy blood to be shed on the cross for my sake. Now, most merciful Saviour! let all these things profit me, that thou freely hast done for me, which hast given thyself also for me. Let thy blood cleanse and wash away the spots and foulness of my sins. Let thy righteousness hide and cover my unrighteousness. Let the merits of thy passion and blood-shedding be satisfaction for my sins. Give me, Lord, Thy Grace!, that the faith of my salvation in thy blood waver not in me, but may ever be firm and constant: that the hope of thy mercy and life everlasting never decay in me: that love wax not cold in me; and finally, that the weakness of my flesh be not overcome with the fear of death. Grant me, merciful Saviour! that when death bath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon thee; and when death bath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto thee, Lord! into thy hands I commend my soul; Lord Jesu I receive my spirit. Amen.”  Source: Foxe’s Book of Protestant Martyrs 195. Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell: I lay my head on the block, close my eyes with only thoughts of her, of them, and await my fate. Out of nervousness, I open them once more. Tears come as I look upon a woman right before me, draped and hidden in her long black cape, just as when I met her first. I mouth silently, “I love you, always.” Our eyes lock, and with her strength filling me, I find my courage and hold firm.

Gregory Crowmell: “Oh my god, nooooo!

Thomas Wyatt: Though stunned, my body shocked, my stomach churning as the executioner repeatedly completes his office, blood spewing,  I catch poor Gregory as he faints. A kindness from God, he missed most.

Thomas Howard: Oh how fitting, it’s botched!! I elbow Gardiner, “So much for the merciful death, eh?” I listen to my son and smile widely. Who better with words than him? Surely not Cromwell’s man, Wyatt.

Henry Howard: I look on smugly, the common base-born bastard dead at last. “Now is the false churl dead, so ambitious of others’  blood. These new erected men would, by their wills, leave no noble man a life. Now he is stricken with his own staff!” Source: “Thomas Cromwell,” by Geoffrey Robertson.

Thomas Cranmer: My heart breaks in two, my soul torn asunder. God, why? Why so hard for him? My thoughts are jarred as a caped woman collapses to the ground before the scaffold, wailing pitifully. God tells me. I hear Him clear. “Rush to her, now, Thomas before the heretics. Bring her home, and I’ll bring him.”

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

Note: All text in italics above are direct historical quotations, sourced when appropriate.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The pillar perished is whereto I leant,

Whereon the strongest stay of mine unquiet mind—

The like of it no man again can find,

From east to west, still seeking though he went: always;

To mine unhap! for hap away hath rent misfortune fortune;

Of all my joy the very bark and rind;

And I, alas, by chance am thus assigned;

Dearly to mourn till death do it relent. keenly;

But since that thus it is by destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart—

My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry, lamentation;

My mind in woe, my body full of smart,

And I my self, my self always to hate;

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state?

~~ Sir Thomas Wyatt ~~

“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

___________________________________________

Richard III

___________________________________________

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 

___________________________________________

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.”

___________________________________________

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

___________________________________________

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 —–

___________________________________________

.

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/

___________________________________________

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

___________________________________________

St_Thomas_More__card_ (600x488)
___________________________________________

QAB Book Review: “Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII”, by David Loades

February 9, 2014 in QAB Book Reviews by Beth von Staats

cromwell loades cover

______________________________________________________________________

“Thomas Cromwell… had a vision of state as a sovereign nation living under a law which was controlled by Parliament. The king he saw as the head of the executive, whose pleasure and honour had always to be respected, but within the boundaries laid down by the law.” ~~ David Loades

______________________________________________________________________

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex and Chief Minister of King Henry VIII, suddenly is a very popular man in contemporary British culture. With the huge literary award winning acclaim for Hilary Mantel’s brilliant  novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the Lord Privy Seal made an amazing resurgency, not only in recognition as an important historical figure, but also in a greatly enhanced respect of Cromwell’s legacy. The sinister antagonist in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons now is lead heroic figure himself in two positively reviewed plays based on Mantel’s novels performed by none other than by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and a touted mini-series is in the works. Thus, it comes as no surprise that on the cover jacket of Thomas Cromwell, Servant to Henry VIII, the first words illustrated are not the biography’s title, nor the highly respected historian’s name, but instead a complimentary quote from historical fiction writer Hilary Mantel. Although this may be great marketing, I found the choice disconcerting. David Loades’ biography is an outstanding achievement that stands on it’s own merits, Mantel’s kind words aside.

For those of us who love Tudor history, there is a plethora of biographies detailing the professional life of Thomas Cromwell written by respected historians such as John Schofield, Robert Hutchinson, Geoffrey Elton, and J.P Coby. It’s anticipated that even Diarmaid MacCulloch will be entering the “Cromwell Biography Club” soon. With a few of these biographies already sitting on my bookshelf, I was initially reluctant to add yet another, but Thomas Cromwell, for better or worse, “comes with the package” when you write historical fiction focusing on his Tudor Era ally Thomas Cranmer, so I “sucked it up” and read yet another. I am absolutely thrilled I did!

Not only are David Loades’ views of Thomas Cromwell balanced, but his explanations of what I always found to be “Cromwell quandaries” are as thought-provoking as they are enlightening. Even after reading two previous Cromwell biographies, I never could sort out in my mind where in general his decision making authority ended and King Henry VIII’s began, what Cromwell’s real involvement and motivation was in the fall of Anne Boleyn, what exactly Cromwell’s own personal religious views were, who — Cromwell or Henry VIII — drove the choice to completely unravel the monastery system so entrenched in English culture, what were the dynamics that resulted in Cromwell’s dramatic fall from grace, and just what exactly was his political philosophy. For me, previous explanations of these ongoing “Cromwell quandaries” of mine were often just too over-simplified, exceptionally convoluted or just not explored comprehensively. David Loades, in his highly readable and instructive writing style backed up with solid research, finally answered these questions in my mind once and for all. From a historical fiction writer’s perspective, I see why Hilary Mantel thinks so highly of him. The facts clearly established, we can now go on with the work at hand — filling in the blanks.

Loades’ research and resulting conclusions are often compelling and fascinating. Although much of the chronology of Thomas Cromwell’s professional life is well established, Loade’s interpretation of Cromwell’s motivations and intentions through his career is thought provoking to say the least, with common misconceptions dispelled very convincingly. The Thomas Cromwell Loade’s describes is a highly complex man with principled values commonly ignored or disputed, a man who took calculated risks in moving his reformist religious agenda — risks that ultimately led to his undoing, and a man whose political philosophy I misunderstood and over simplified until reading Loades’ compelling instruction. Also striking in this Cromwell biography is Loades’ expertise of King Henry VIII, which when combined with his research of Cromwell, paints a convincing accounting of the complex working relationship between these men with most often shared, but sometimes strikingly different, political and religious priorities. For those interested in the various recounting and research completed of Thomas Cromwell through the years, this biography also includes a very interesting and thorough historiography.

David Loades taught English Tudor Era history for 16 years at the University of Wales. It is no surprise then that this outstanding biography of Thomas Cromwell takes a significant teaching tone in it’s presentation, a testament to Loades’ professorial experience. I found this a major strength, as his ability to explain complex concepts in an interesting and understandable way greatly enhanced my understanding of not only the material he presented, but in Thomas Cromwell as the compelling and brilliant man he obviously was.

Add Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII, to your collection of Tudor Era biographies. I promise, like Hilary Mantel, you will not be disappointed.

______________________________________________________________________

Professor David Loades

Professor David Loades

Professor David Loades is a highly acclaimed English historian who is Professor emeritus at the University of Wales. Currently honorary member of the history faculty at the University of Oxford, Professor Loades lectures extensively and is a highly prolific writer of historical biographies covering almost every imaginable facet of English Tudor Era history. For an extensive listing of the comprehensive works of Professor David Loades, visit his website at http://davidloades.co.uk/.

To purchase Thomas Cromwell Servant to Henry VIII click the link below:

Skip to toolbar