Word has reached Anne Boleyn’s court of the death of the Dowager Princess Katherine. Whilst Anne and her favourites celebrate Anne’s undisputed claim as the only crowned Queen of England, some of her Ladies-in-Waiting have mixed feelings, remembering the golden days of Katherine’s reign as queen.
Jane Seymour UK Z
I look up from my embroidering as a messenger practically runs to the queen to give his news. Queen Anne stands before her ladies as we look up curiously with an exultant air and states “The Princess Dowager is dead!” We all look stunned as the queen hurries to join the king.
We all stare at each other in shock. Many of us served Katherine as Ladies-in-Waiting before she was put aside. My sister Elizabeth is looking just as stunned as I. I pull her to an alcove as chaos begins to break around us.
“Elizabeth, my heart breaks for the-” I look about and check myself- “the Dowager Princess. And the Lady Mary.” I try to blink back tears, empathy for the Spanish princess and her daughter is still frowned upon.
Elizabeth Seymour UK Z Q
Trying to keep my face composed, I looked into Jane’s eyes, and could see that she was blinking back tears.
”Jane, do not wear your emotions on your sleeve. There are many here who would be delighted to tell Queen Anne that you wept for the Dowager Princess. Do not give her any cause which she could use against you. She is already jealous of the notice which the king gives you. As long as she is with child, she holds the King’s attention.”
Taking Jane’s small hand in mine, I whisper to her. ”Jane, my dearest, we must wait till we are alone to speak of and mourn Queen Katherine. Remember to hide all of your true feelings from Queen Anne and her ladies. ” I kiss Jane’s forehead and try to soothe her.
Jane Parker UK Z Q
Long fingers pause in the midst of their dance, my needle poised just above the piece of material I am working on in my lap. I hear the news whispered, as does every woman in the room, my eyes glancing to my sister by law as she gleefully rises to her feet and dashes as fast as her thickening form will allow to her husband.
Katherine was dead… this would please both our King and Queen greatly I do not doubt… and George. He would be full of elation to learn that his sisters bane was finally gone. I hoped she would find peace. As much as my fortunes were tied now to the black eyed girl who claims my husband’s attention constantly, Katherine had been a kindly woman who deserved the peace she had so long been denied in this nest of vipers.
My compassion however is short lived, already mentally dissecting the dead woman’s estate to see what might come the way of my husband. I had not time to waste thought on the girl who would undoubtedly suffer so at the demise of her mother, nor on the grief already evident on the face of some of the ladies present. While there was advancement to be had, it must be seized, and while I may despise our queen with every fibre of my being, my support to her happiness would most certainly not go unnoticed.
Setting aside the needlework quietly, I move silent as a bat on the wing, through the shadows and after Anne. I would should make myself the one member of her household that no matter how distasteful my presence may be, would be the only one she could say reacted to this momentous news exactly as was expected of me.
Duchess Of Norfolk UK Z
My body stills as I watch almost from afar, my niece leaping to her feet, the news spoken in a whisper loud enough for all the room to hear sending a chill through my frame that I refuse to let show. Her black eyes immediately find my own emerald, triumph shining within their hateful depths as she sweeps from the room to her husband, leaving naught but rage and sorrow boiling within me until I fear I may burst with their suppression.
Katherine had been my Queen, my mistress and my friend for these many years past, her warmth and dignified majesty a shining example of royalty the world could both admire and love. An example that Anne would have done well to emulate rather than deride. Even through these last few dark years of her life, I had defied even the King himself to ensure that she knew that she was not forgotten, that there were some who still remained in this world of sense enough not to mind the brief rise of my nieces star. For that is all it would be, she will fall as hard and fast as she has climbed. For Katherine had borne her adversity with dignified grace and submitted her fate to the hands of the only authority she trusted implicitly. Her prayers and my own had sadly not been answered, but I knew that even God himself this day would weep for his good daughter Katherine and will one day, wreak his vengeance for the pain she had suffered upon the forsaken whore that dares to call herself Queen.
I instantly cross myself and dip my head, a murmured Latin prayer for my friend said without hesitation or attempt at concealment. Let them tattle, let them look, let them tell “Her Grace” of her wicked Aunts transgression. At this moment I care not. All that mattered was that one of the scant few shining lights in my dark world had gone out and I would mourn its loss in my own way.
My love and loyalty for Katherine was well known, the entire court well aware of the ever simmering resentment shared between myself and the harlot that presumes to wear the crown belonging rightfully to a woman who eclipsed her in every way possible. The sly eyes turning my way at this moment were testament to that. Yet these foolish simpering girls had not been raised as I, the perfect courtier in every sense, not one flicker of the emotion that flooded my being in a torrent of grief showing upon my pale visage. I would sit and continue to sew as though the news had been of no more import than the weather. My actions over passed as mundane in their treason as the singing of a lark. I would mourn Katherine properly in private, the darkness of my chambers the only witness to any more overt displays of my grief or concern. For now that she was gone, there would be none to challenge my foolish nieces wayward mind but the King… and I would pray for us all that he realised this sooner rather than later.
Mary Boleyn Z
I stare in amazement as Anne triumphantly shares the news, her eyes glittering – all that could make this complete is a son, then she and Henry have all that they ever wanted. She smiles at me, her head held high, Anne’s arrogance evident as she glides out the door, leaving her ladies in a fluster.
I gaze blankly at the door as it is shut firmly behind Anne. I am aware of the burst of noise around me as I struggle to process this news. We all served under Katherine who was good and kind and caring- quite the opposite of my sister. My mind runs over my time at court, with Katherine the only constant in Henry’s dizzying world. I sigh. There is no turning back now, no where for Henry to run back to. England is at the mercy of Anne and Henry.
I break out of my musings, pushing away the sadness of England’s loss and look about. There is a lot of shell-shocked ladies around me, my eyes linger over the Seymour ladies. My eyes roll then narrow as I see Jane wipe away a tear – for goodness sake! Simpering woman. Her sister Elizabeth catches my eye and whispers urgently at her sister – to pull it together I hope.
I spy my sister-in-law Jane slip out the door in Anne’s trail. I can imagine my uncle and father would think Jane has the right idea. Whilst I am noting the reactions of Anne’s ladies, and to be truthful, delaying finding my triumphant family and getting back to the family business, George comes in. I am reminded of a flock of birds preening as the ladies rearrange themselves and flutter their eyes coquettishly at my brother who is taking stock of the scene and heads towards me.
George Boleyn, Lord Rochford
I have just heard the news the dowager princess Katherine is dead and I am delighted. No more will we have that wench in the shadows, ruining our families lives. Our place once again is safe and Anne pregnant with an heir. No doubt the sun is shining on us once more. Making my way into Anne’s chambers, I spot my sister Mary. Taking note of the scene in the room, I walk briskly towards her and past the ladies in waiting who seem just as happy as I am.
“Oh dear Mary, can you believe it? That old hen is finally dead and Anne can rest easy now that she does not have to be in Katherine’s shadow one second longer.” I say in a lowered tone as to not raise suspicion and leading her to a quieter area of the room. I glance up as I see Anne beaming and slipping out of the room with a few of her ladies in waiting. I happen to notice Jane Seymour trying to hold back her tears and Elizabeth consoling her without trying to bring much attention. I scoff and turn back to Mary who looks less than happy about the news that has been delivered.
“What’s the matter dearest sister? Are you not happy Katherine is dead and there is no one to step in our way? Jane Seymour may hold the king’s attention for now but as soon as Anne has the boy, he will never think of that wench again!.” I say, trying to keep my voice down from the excitement
“Come now Mary. What say you about all of this? I can see it in your eyes.” Saying as I survey the room once more.
Mary Boleyn Z
I allow my musings to be swept away by George’s obvious delight at our family’s good fortune. I give my brother a wry smile and take his hand in mine.
“Fortune smiles upon Anne, George and I am truly glad as this was the last piece in Anne’s way.”
I gaze about at the mixed reactions from the different factions amongst the queen’s ladies-in-waiting. “But we are allowed to be sad George, Katherine cared for many of us for a long time.” I stand suddenly and narrow my eyes at a sob that escapes from one of the Seymour girls.
“Really Jane. The Princess Dowager was NOT the king’s wife, surely I must not need to remind you. Pull yourself together before the queen returns!”
I return my attention to my brother who looks at me bemused and I smile. “We will return to our place, with the king in love with no one but Anne, no one to distract him,” I throw a dirty look at the Seymour ladies, Elizabeth defiantly stares back at me, “and Anne shall cement our position as first family with a son and we shall live happily ever after – even you George!”
My brother laughs and stands by me, both our stances are arrogant, as if we had already laid claim to the castle. I allow my voice to carry across the room. ” Brother, let us join our sister the queen, she will want her friends with her this night.”
George offers me his arm and we sweep out of the rooms. Onwards and upwards.