I look into the mirror with a wan smile. The day has arrived much too quickly. I am to marry his Majesty, Louis XII, king of France by proxy today. This will be the second time that I will be married by proxy. The first time was to Prince Charles of Castile but that treaty was broken, so here I am getting ready for my second proxy wedding. I would normally have hope that this wedding would end as my first. But King Louis is not taking chances and has ordered the Duc de Longueville to also consummate our marriage by proxy. After the ceremony, I am to change into a non revealing night dress and in front of an audience; I am to lay on a bed with the duke. He will touch my calf with his, which will mean that my marriage to Louis is considered consummated by the church. But my mind screams for Brandon, Charles Brandon, the only man I will ever love. My heart shall always belong to him. I will do my duty and become the queen of France for England but I will hold Arthur to his promise that I will be allowed to choose my second husband and I mean to choose Charles. Louis of France is old, and in ill health and more then likely; I will be his nurse mate.
Duc de Longueville
My ladies are chattering happily as my hair is twisted and turned in every which way and peals and diamonds are interwoven into my hair. I nod here and there but do not hear what they are saying. My head throbs in pain and I hold my gold chalice of wine tightly, taking large draughts of the wine to numb myself. My wedding gown is awe inspiring. Tis crinsom made of silk damask and gold tissue. It is covered in pearls and diamonds and the sleeves and hem are piped with ermine. The gown shimmers from the light of the sun hitting it. If I was marrying Charles Brandon; I would be dancing for joy. The king of France has been very generous, he has sent a crown of gold encrusted with huge diamonds. He also sent me a gift, a diamond as large as a man’s finger with a pearl the size of a pigeons egg hanging from it. Tis called ” The Mirror of Naples ” I had no idea what an important part this gift would play in my life. While Louis has sent me gold plates and jewels; he has given Arthur back Tournai and is removing the French presence in Scotland. Arthur is well pleased with himself. The Duc de Longueville has brought many French nobles, I will have my ladies, Arthur, Erica, Henry, Bessie and my Charles. There will also be many foreign dignitaries. Then all Arthur has to do is have me shipped to Abbeville for Louis to whisk me away. I will have 2 new young ladies attending me. Mary and Anne Boleyn, they look like they will cause me more problems them be of any help but I am assured that Anne is intelligent and speaks perfect French and that Mary is a sweet girl whom will be very loyal.
My ladies become all in a frenzy for my brother, the king has come to escort me. I slowly stand and look at myself in the mirror and hear my grandmother Margaret’s words, ”we are never to show our true feelings and at all times must remain regal.” I paste a dazzling smile on my face and pretend that I am overcome with excitement but inside I feel as if I am going to my execution. I know the Archbishop of Warham and Wolsey, the Bishop of Lincoln will be performing the ceremony but to me it will feel as if they are giving me my last rites. Arthur takes my arm happy to escort me to my unwanted destiny.
I stand in front of my dressing mirror as my privy of the chambers dress me in one of my finest doublets. It was a happy day, finally peace would be made with France. After many months of paper work and long nights of treaty discussions I had finally achieved my ultimate goal. Even though my dear sister had to pay the price by going into a marriage she despised. But that was her problem; soon she would learn how prestigious it was to be queen of France. Her petty crush on the Brandon would go away. I had seen to it that the Duc de Longueville was given the best treatment England could offer. The grandest guest rooms and many servants there to give him whatever his heart desired. Everything must be perfect for this proxy marriage. I had even take extra precaution to insure nothing would go wrong. I could not have another tragedy affect my family. Especially after all the hard work I had put in with Wolsey to achieve this goal. I looed one last time in my mirror; I had chosen the noblest colors for this glorious day. The purple sash went well with my white suit and state jewels. I started for the throne room. I could see my wife had already arrived waiting for me so we could go in together. I could not believe it had already been a month since we had been wed. Everything was perfect between us, seeing her in her beautiful blue gown made me wish I could be alone with her sooner than tonight. I smiled at her sweetly, grabbing her hand. “You look beautiful today Erica, as always.” She smiles back at me blushing deeply as we enter the hall. I gently kiss her hand as I let go in order to escort my sister. I hated being away from my sweet Erica but it was my responsibility to escort Mary. I look at her face and see the fake smile she was forcing . I get close to her ear and whisper quietly. ”Do not ruin this with your petty madness sister, just think soon you will be queen of France, the French will be bowing at the feet of our Mary, the most beautiful, English, rose, what. What more could a princess want?
Look at my husband, King Arthur, I am blessed, I fell in love with my betrothed, a royal arranged marriage. He takes my hand and kisses it and I can see his love for me in his deep, blue ,eyes. We are dressed elegantly for my sister in law’s proxy wedding. I know as princess’ this is our duty and fate. But unlike me, she is not marrying a young, handsome, virile, man. She is marrying a man more then 30 years older, who I hear is in poor health. She is the most sought after princess and this is who Arthur arranged for her. Arthur could not be swayed for he wanted this treaty with France. I know poor Mary Rose’s secret, though how can anyone look at her and Charles Brandon and not see the love between them? I am torn, as Arthur’s wife, I know the importance of this alliance with France. But as a woman and Mary’s sister in law, I feel her pain. Her and Bessie have been kind and welcomed me to their family. I wish there was something I could do to help Mary but Arthur will not bend on this. He is determined that Mary wed and be on her way to France as the new French queen.
Much as I loathe ceremony and have more pressing matters, I know as Prince of Wales, I must attend. Mary looks a pretty enough bride. Although if it hadn’t been for our brother’s bungling of the war with France, she would not be marrying that dandified, wheezing, old, French, king, nor have to deny her love for Charles, which has always been self evident and continues to be. Inwardly I laugh as that poor old man has no idea he has competition waiting even before his demise! What fortunes do war bring or misfortune such is my sister’s fate…I had not seen Bessie for some time, but I must say she looks radiant…though upon closer look, I see lines upon that pretty countenance no doubt etched by our shared recent tragedy… Elizabeth…oh how I wish she could be here at my side right now as I do see everyone’s expressions of contempt bear down upon me like a pack of wild dogs wishing to tear me apart! So be it. Lady Norfolk is even at this moment doing the work that needs be done whilst these fools primp and gawk at one another…I shall nevertheless raise my glass and wish my sister well, for God knows she shall need it. Au revoir chère sœur.
I stand next to Henry dressed in one of my only dresses that still fits. It did not bother me that at this stage of my pregnancy, I shouldn’t be attending the ceremony. Nothing would keep me from saying goodbye to my dearest friend. Mary looked beautiful as always but I could see the sadness through her smile. I knew this marriage was not what she wanted. Mary’s love for Charles was stronger than I had ever seen compared to the love I had towards Henry. I wished that Mary could have her happy ending, even though my own happiness had been long gone. I glance at my husband and can tell he was not thinking about his sister, rather of his mistress. The women whose presence has ruined my happiness…I hated that the only one who had accepted me as Henry’s wife was leaving. Now who would be my ally…I look towards the queen, I knew that I had started a friendship with her; she could be the only person who could help if things with Henry get worse…I erase the thought from my mind and try to focus on Mary.
I fuss with the Princess’s train along with the rest of the ladies, trying to focus on the menial task while my fellow Ladies-in-Waiting primp and preen themselves in front of the king and prince. Inwardly I roll my eyes. All I wish to do is be a loyal servant to the new queen of France. My father has arranged such an honour for Anne and myself and I certainly mean to make the most of it, perhaps I will marry a French noble! Viva la France! Princess Mary looks miserable, perhaps I would too if I was to marry an old man- but this old man is King of France- certainly a better arranged marriage than most of us would make.
I have been taken from the service of Archduchess Margaret to serve the Princess Mary Rose who will now be the queen of France. My sister, Mary is here helping the princess and will be joining me. I have been asked by father because of my proficiency in French, something that my sweet sister lacks, but look at her….. The pretty Boleyn sister, the perfect English rose. I will do my duty and make father proud. I hope that I will be of great service to Reine Marie. I do know what an honor it is especially for young women of our age. I look at the princess and she looks so pale, the Archduchess was infuriated when Princess Mary’s betrothal to Charles of Castile was called off. Such a beautiful princess marrying a man older then father. She looks like she will be ill. I do not blame her, I wish to marry for love. I look over to the bed where her marriage is to be consummated by proxy by touching of the calves. I take a sip of my wine and think long live the new queen of France.
Striding into the hall, I feel some what excited by the wedding! The initial distress of losing Mary had lessened, a small ache still shot through my heart when I thought of her in my arms, but that would lessen with the more ladies I seduced into my arms. The French delegation would be sure to hold a buxom beauty that would ease my broken heart and soothe my burning loins. Mary was a Princess, it was her destiny to join with a King, even if he was a wrinkled old man!! My eyes scanned those attending the event, I would have to choose carefully, there would be wine later so she may have to help me into bed! I had better choose one of the serving wenches, they were stronger. Having settled my mind on Anna, the voluptuous, blond who would be serving wine after the marriage, filling my mind with novel ways Anna and I could pass the night, while ignoring events unfolding around me. Becoming bored with carnal thoughts of my intended lady of that night, I let my mind wander, attempting to list the sexual attributes of each Lady in the court. A slight ’swishing’ sound draws my attention to current events of the hall. Suddenly a Lance strikes my innards, sending them into my mouth! My eyes rest on the beauty in the white night robe, a nauseating hollowness radiates through my entire body. All my thoughts of bedroom frolics dissolve into the waters of love. There she stands, a regal beauty, she was no ’prize’ to be won or bought, her true beauty lay in her heart. No amount of sexual gratification among the softness of Anna, could equal the heart of my Princess. Not only had I lost her, but I had failed her! My protection had failed! Her beauty had been sold for political and financial gain. For the first time I had lost, I had not just lost her, but I had also lost my heart. My mouth dries as my heart is consumed by the emptiness that sickens my body. My Princess is married to another, my true love has been taken from me. Her true beauty, that lies inside her, would be lost on the dried and wrinkled swine who now ’owns’ her, caring only for the external beauty of his ’prize’. Closing my eyes, I stop my legs from buckling! My head swims, flushed with agonizing thoughts of my darling Princess being held by another. I still love her!!!!
The marriage ceremony was finished, my ladies took me back to my chambers to get me ready for the proxy consummation of my new marriage. I asked Lady Beth to refill my chalice all the way to the top with wine. I wanted to be drunk for this humiliation that was to take place in front of most of the court. Lady Beth gave me a disapproving look as I drank half of the wine as quickly as possible. Three of my ladies started undoing my hair and let it fall down, tis a show of virtue to wear one’s hair down. Beth brushed my hair lovingly till it was in long locks that shimmered. They took out a night dress that was especially made for this occasion. My neck, arms and legs were covered. I almost felt like a nun. I poured my own wine while Lady Beth was getting my white robe ready. I stood as they covered me in my robe and did not bother looking at my image in the looking glass. What did it matter? I saw Charles through the corner of my eyes during the ceremony looking at the blond serving girl. He must of found my wedding a joyous occasion and was looking for a bed mate to celebrate. He professed his love to me, lies all lies. He had not changed at all. I wonder if he even tried to change Arthur’s mind about this marriage.
It had been many years since my mother left this earth but what I would do for a hug and her wise council now. I felt so alone, my brothers were once so loving with me. I do not know Henry anymore, he is not the brother who wiped my tears and took me hunting with him. Arthur who was always gentle and kind now only cared about his alliances. I was a pawn on his chess board, yesterday Spain, today France. I still have my sweet Bessie, my friend , but she is grieving for the loss of her son. I like Erica, she has back bone and does not let the nobles push her around but she married a young, handsome, king. I rapidly finish the wine but before I could pour another drop, my ladies told me it was time to go and were hurriedly getting me out of my chambers to my proxy bed giggling with delight, as if this were the happiest of occasions.
We entered and immediately there was a hush in the room. My eyes found Charles and for one minute he looked into mine and then turned away. I wanted to give into my feelings and just lay on the floor sobbing but I had been schooled on hiding every real emotion. The duke bowed, he wore an elegant doublet of gold with embroidered flowers ; I bestowed a a bright smile and curtsied . I nodded to my women that it was time and they took my robes off and I stood there in my night dress. Arthur spoke some words and then the duke did and everyone applauded but I did not hear one word that was said. Brandon could not even look at me. How long have I loved this man, yet he could not even give me encouragement with his eyes. No, he was too busy thinking of his conquest for the night. The bed sheets were drawn and thankfully more wine was offered. I drank as if my thirst could never be satiated. Lady Beth gave me another look and took the chalice out of my hand and led me to the bed. I laid there and closed my eyes till I felt the weight of the Duc de Loungueville. Lady Beth then raised my night dress to my calves and the duke took his calve and gently touched mine. It was done and everyone was applauding that my marriage to Louis was now consummated. I looked away and Charles was looking right at me, with a pained expression on his face. His eyes would not leave mine. My heart pounded, maybe he did love me. All I wanted to do was run into his strong arms and have him hold me. I wanted to give him my maiden hood, not a dried up old man who wanted me whisked right away to France. But on my voyage to France, Charles would be there and I would comfort myself with thoughts of Charles on the high seas.
By: Mary Rose Tudor UK Z, King Arthur Z, Queen Erica Z, Prince Henry Z, Princess Bessie Z, Mary Boleyn UK, Z, Anne Boleyn Z