Henry’s sister, the Duchess of Suffolk, is summoned to his chambers at Greenwich. As she is announced, Mary Rose is greeted by the site of Henry standing before her. Standing nearby hunched over a desk of parchments is the King’s secretary, chief minister and vicar-general, Thomas Cromwell. Henry turns to her and imitates a smile.
”Ah Dear sister, how fare you this day?” He says in an overly melodious tone. ”Come…you know my secretary, Master Cromwell?”
The Duchess of Suffolk looks upon her brother with suspicion. Nothing good could come from his summons while his concubine was still playing queen on the very throne that her beloved mother sat on. All Mary Rose wanted was to get away from her brother’s garish court and go back to Westhorpe with her family and hopefully, her husband but here she was with her brother who had turned on her and his Machiavellian secretary.
” Brother, I fare quite well thank you but would like to get back to my children. Your nephew Henry, misses his uncle very much.” She turns and nods ” Master Cromwell, I wonder what need my brother has of thee that could possibly pertain to the dowager queen of France? If you do not mind I would like to get to the purpose of being summoned and get it resolved quickly.” She tried to conceal her distaste for the entire scenario.
Cromwell looks toward Henry and begins to speak, Henry waves his hand, interrupting him. ” ’Tis not what I require of you, dear sister… ’tis what you shall want of me… I have been quite patient whist all this time awaiting you to take the oath as all have already sworn to… all save the Bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More that is… I shall speak plainly, Mary… my patience now wears thin… if you do not this instant sign the oath that which you shall need of me, namely clemency, shall not be afforded you!”
He rushes over to the table where Cromwell is standing and furiously grabs the pile of papers laying there and stepping quickly smashes them upon the desktop where Mary is standing, causing her to flinch as he plucks the quill from it’s holder and stabs the air with it.
”Take it… take it and sign…NOW”.
Mary looks at her brother in disbelief and before she can stop herself, her Tudor temper explodes. ” You called me from my home to sign this?” She tosses the document across the table. ” And if I refuse? Then what? Will you kill your younger sister? The only family you have left? Will you put my head on a spike? You, who brushed my hair after our parents were both gone, my big brother, my blood, will kill me if I do not sign your oath? Would you truly take my life Henry? All because of her? You can forget our entire lives together? ‘TIS TRUE, SHE HAS BEWITCHED YOU!” Mary’s chest heaves in anger and then she gasps and covers her mouth as she realizes what she just did. She lost her temper to her brother, the king and Charles was not here to save her.
Henry blinks incredulously. ”Whatever consequence may derive from your refusal shall be on your own head, NOT MINE!… as your brother, I say sign the oath and spare yourself and your family the heartache and misery of the penalty for not doing so… as your king, I say do so now, lest you show yourself to be a traitor to the realm!… I know of your hatred for Anne… much as ’twould please me greatly, I cannot punish you for evil thoughts, only deeds”.
Henry looks up to Cromwell. ”… Master Cromwell… please explain to her highness of her precarious position”.
Throughout the drama, Cromwell was as silent but obviously present like an unwanted shadow. The King’s shadow. He secretly admired Mary Tudor’s passion, very similar to her ruling brother’s…however due to the nature of her sex and the order of her birth, this was not to be borne by him. The familial Tudor temper was useless and a folly with King Henry. Cromwell sighed and calmly spoke with a nonchalant look in his eye,
”Your Highness…It is of paramount importance that you sign the King’s oath. Though I am sure your loyalty to His Majesty is more sincere than many, You as part of the royal family must demonstrate your loyalty in this particular situation as your royal duty. Should you not do so…It would appear that you are obstructing the King’s will…which is also God’s will. The consequences of disobeying the King will be dire, I’m afraid even for your high rank, milady and it would be most unfortunate for your family to have to suffer for it. It would be most recommended that you sign this oath and ignore whatever scruples, some may try to influence you with.”
Mary could not believe her ears; what had that witch done to her brother? She had no fear for herself and knew that Charles had already signed the oath but to threaten Francis, Eleanor and Henry, her children, her brother had lost his mind. Her son was in line to the throne with Tudor blood running through his veins. Mary was afraid she was going to retch, her heart was beating too fast and her hands which she kept hidden in her lap were shaking. She had already buried one son, she would not risk her children, she would die to protect them. She no longer new this man who was her brother. She could hear Charles’ voice in her head telling her to just sign the damn Oath.
She looked up at Cromwell ” Very well Master Cromwell, I will sign the oath for if I wait, my children may end up on the scaffold. May I have the quill please?” He nods and hands her the quill and she rapidly signs her name.
” I think our business is finished here and I would like to return to my son and daughters” She stands ” Thank you Master Cromwell for explaining the legalities in a way that I shall never forget” She then turns to her brother and curtsies deeply, feeling disgust being in his presence, ” Your Majesty.” She vowed never to call him brother again and turned to leave his court.
Henry watched her go. While well-pleased with the result, yet a grain of apprehension remained. Why was it necessary to use such force… such coercion? Did Mary not realize as England’s sovereign and savior from the yolk of papacy that HE above all others knew best?… She was merely being difficult… she always was as a spirited, willful child and had never changed!… nevertheless, she signed. Nodding to himself, he turns to Cromwell.
”Well done Master Cromwell… It has always been my belief that if one wishes to break a surly horse, one must find an uncompromising horse master… if it’s extortion they seek, they need only find a skilled lawyer”.
Cromwell bowed gratefully, a slight smile growing upon his face.
”Thank you, Your Majesty. Your will is Law as always.”
****** Written by Mary Rose Tudor Uk Z.., Thomas Cromwell Uk… & King Henry Tudor Uk *******