Please welcome Steve Veerapen to All Things Tudor. Like most great relationships, we met on Twitter. He is from Glasgow, my husband’s home town, and it has been wonderful working with him. Recently, he took a few minutes to share insight into his fascinating career as a writer and historian.
What prompted you to choose to write about Mary Queen of Scots & Lord Darnley in your first book?
In my case, I was following the old strategy of ‘write what you know’. I’d been researching and teaching this period for years and it seemed fertile ground for trying fiction. Once I knew I wanted to write about Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, the choice of characters dictated the period.
What is your approach to researching your novels? Has the process changed over the years?
A great question! My approach is generally to start with a setting or event and then narrow research down to books and articles which cover those days, weeks, or months in depth. I try to also dip into research material which covers lifestyles in the period more generally. I’ve always tried to approach researching fiction in the same way I approach nonfiction (though I can get away with more in the former!). Academic study really teaches you to narrow in when researching.
Which other historical novelists do you admire?
There are loads. My friend Marie Macpherson (who has worked wonders in bringing John Knox to life), E C Fremantle, Paul Walker, John Pilkington, Patricia Finney, Anna Castle. And of course my favourite author, Daphne du Maurier, was no mean historical novelist.
When first sketching out an idea for a novel, which comes first – the protagonist, plot or history?
Protagonist and broad plot usually come had in hand (sometimes one or the other skipping ahead) and history last. Once I know what’s going to happen and to whom, I fit it into specific historical contexts.
Do you have a daily routine as a writer?
I don’t have a daily routine per se, but when I have a book on the go, I tend to write every day for a few hours. Each book seems to bring its own routine!
If you could choose to meet any historical figure from your period, who would it be and why?
I think it would have to be Mary Queen of Scots. I’d love to find out exactly what she knew of her husband’s murder (and what she really looked like – for the same reason, I’d love to get a glimpse of Anne Boleyn!).
Steven Veerapen was born in Glasgow and raised in Paisley. Pursuing an interest in the sixteenth century, he was awarded a first-class Honours degree in English, focussing his dissertation on representations of Henry VIII’s six wives. He then received a Masters in Renaissance studies, and a Ph.D. investigating Elizabethan slander.
He writes historical fiction set in the early modern period, covering the reigns of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James VI and I; additionally, he has written nonfiction studies of Mary Queen of Scots’ relationship with her brother; Elizabeth I and her last favourite, the Earl of Essex; and an academic study of slander and sedition in the reign of Elizabeth.
He has also published a variety of academic articles in literary and historical journals and magazines and teaches English literature at the University of Strathclyde. Steven remains fascinated by the glamour and ghastliness of life in the 1500s and 1600s, and has a penchant for myths, mysteries and murders in an age in which the law was as slippery as those who defied it.
Steven’s latest work is The Queen’s Gold: A Christopher Marlowe Spy Thriller
The Sparrowhawk, one of Drake’s lost treasure ships, is found wrecked in Devon. Rumours spread through England of its booty, including a mysterious treasure: El Sol Dorado.
Thomas Lewgar, the resentful roommate of aspiring playwright Christopher Marlowe, hears of the rumours. He discovers, too, that the boastful Marlowe is engaged in a web of espionage.
Intrigued and repelled by the irreverent Marlowe, Lewgar joins the poet in seeking the lost treasure. If they can find it, they will be richly rewarded by queen and court.
But they are not the only ones hunting the prize.
A crooked courtier, Henry Howton, has also heard the rumours. In the secret employ of the Spanish, he hopes to find the treasure himself – and he will stop at nothing to get his hands on it.
Racing their Spanish-backed enemy and his dangerous associates, Lewgar and Marlowe must discover the strange history of the ghostly wreck. Their journey will lead them into the rotting carcass of the Sparrowhawk, into the presence of sea-dogs Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh, and through the ravaged home of spiritualist Dr John Dee.
Betrayal, falsehood, and deceit lie in wait.
Can they discover the lost treasure and unravel the mystery of El Sol Dorada before the Spanish?
Praise for Steven Veerapen:
A Dangerous Trade
‘A slow-burn character driven spy story that grips like a thumbscrew tightened by twist after twist towards the end – Le Carre transported to the 1560’s. Brilliant work, based in impressively wide research and the kind of competition that I and a good number of others could well do without!’ Peter Tonkin, author of The Ides
The Abbey Close (Book One of the Simon Danforth Mysteries)
‘The author balances gimlet-eyed research with narrative drive and clever reveals… Danforth is a strong yet torn central character… I look forward to reading the second book in the series.’ Richard Foreman, author of The First Crusade series
Blood Feud: Mary Queen of Scots and The Earl of Moray
‘Much-needed analysis of a sinister sibling rivalry.’ Marie Macpherson
Elizabeth and Essex: Power, Passion and Politics
‘A sensitive and lively account of one of the most politically significant relationships of the Elizabethan age.’ Lisa Hopkins
‘Both a crime and spy thriller.’ Richard Foreman, author of The First Crusade series
‘From its tense beginning to satisfying end, Steven Veerapen skilfully weaves historical fact into a gripping tale, making a superb contribution to 17th century fiction.’ John Pilkington, author of The Ruffler’s Child
Mary, Queen of Scots, also known as Mary Stuart or Mary I of
Scotland, was Queen of Scotland from December 1542 to July 1567 and Queen
Consort of France from July 1559 until December 1560.
Mary was the daughter of King James V of Scotland and Marie
of Guise, a member of the House of Guise, which played a significant role in
16th-century French politics. Mary was the only surviving legitimate child of
King James V and she acceded to the throne when her father died. She was six
days old. She spent the majority of her childhood in France while Scotland was
ruled by regents along, and in 1558 she married the Dauphin of France. He
became King Francis II in 1559, and Mary was briefly Queen Consort, until his
death in December 1560. The young widow returned to Scotland, arriving in Leith
on August 19, 1561. Four years later, she married her first cousin, Henry
Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their union was unhappy. In February 1567, his
residence was destroyed by an explosion and Darnley was found murdered in the
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was thought to be the
master-mind behind Darnley’s death, however he was acquitted of the charge in
April 1567. Twelve days later he married Mary. It has always been a question as
to whether the marriage was one of force or whether she agreed or not. Another
theory is that she was in complete agreement with the marriage.
Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was
imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. On July 24, 1567, she was forced to abdicate
in favor of James, her one-year-old son by Darnley, her deceased husband. After
an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled southwards seeking the
protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary had previously
claimed Elizabeth’s throne as her own and was considered the legitimate
sovereign of England by many English Catholics. Unsure of what to do with the
capricious Mary, and with many of her counselors perceiving her as a threat,
Elizabeth had her confined in manor houses in the interior of England. After
eighteen and a half years in custody, Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate
Elizabeth, and was subsequently beheaded.
Mary remains a controversial figure in history. There are a few things we know for certain. She was tall, citations note her height at 5’ 10” to six feet, her grandmother was King Henry VIII’s sister Margaret, she was the mother of James I and VI of England and Scotland, and she was considered beautiful in her own time and by our contemporary standards. As an old adage states, someone that beautiful has to be guilty, and Mary Stuart is quite possibly the best example of that statement in history. He married her handsome English cousin Henry, Lord Darnley, a reckless match which she later regretted.
She loved music and was skilled at playing both the lute and
viola. Two of her favorite activities were music and dancing, which was shunned
by the strict Protestant Calvinist beliefs of John Knox, the head of the
Scottish Kirk (Church). The powerful Scottish Lairds (Nobles) were increasingly
becoming members of the Scottish Kirk and frowned upon her practices as well. A
truce of sorts was reached in which Mary and her court could enjoy their
Catholic Masses in private. The young Queen and her entourage, known as the
Four Maries, were allowed to enjoy their masquerades and merry making within
the confines of the castles at the Queen’s state events. Knox felt that the
young queen, and her love of dance and music had turned the royal enclaves into
brothels, rather than places for honest women.
The turning point for in Mary Stuart’s life came with the
death of David Rizzio. He was an Italian courtier and musician, who rose to
become the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary’s husband, Lord
Darnley, is said to have been jealous of their friendship. Darnley joined in a
conspiracy of Protestant nobles, led by Patrick Ruthven, Lord Ruthven, to
murder him. This murder became the catalyst for the downfall of Darnley, and it
had serious consequences for Mary’s turbulent career.
Rizzio, whose name appears in records as David Riccio di
Pancalieri in Piemonte went from Turin, Italy to the Court of the Duke of
Savoy, at Nice, France. Finding no opportunities for advancement there, he was
employed by the Count de Moretto in 1561, who was leading a diplomatic mission
to Scotland. Once in Scotland, Rizzio, found that there were no further
opportunities for him and he was dismissed from service. He ingratiated himself
with the Queen’s French musicians. James Melville, a personal friend of Rizzio,
said that “Her Majesty had three valets in her chamber, who sung three parts,
and wanted a bass to sing the fourth part”. Rizzio was considered an excellent
singer, which brought him to the attention of the Queen.
Having grown wealthy under her patronage, he became the secretary for relations with France in 1564, after the previous secretary of the post retired. This post attracted a quarterly salary of £20. Ambitious-seeing himself as all but a Secretary of State, Catholic and a foreigner, Rizzio was much too close to the Queen. Rumors swirled that Mary was having an affair with the Italian Fiddler, as some called him and that her child was possibly his.
Jealousy on the part of the vain and arrogant Lord Darnley
led to his murder in the Queen’s presence, in her supper chamber in the Palace
of Holyroodhouse after the royal guards were overpowered and the palace was
turned over to the control of the rebels. Commanded by Patrick Ruthven, they
demanded Rizzio be handed over. The Queen refused. Rizzio then hid behind Mary
but was seized and stabbed to death in the presence of the Queen. He was
stabbed 56 times on March 9, 1566 by Lord Darnley and his co-conspirators. The
Queen was seven months pregnant at the time of the murder.
After this violent struggle, Rizzio’s body was thrown down
the main staircase, stripped of its jewels and fine clothes. He was buried
within two hours in the cemetery of Holyrood. Records state that his body was
removed by the Queen’s orders and deposited in the sepulchre of the Kings of
Mary’s turbulent life continued. Lord Darnley was dead with a year, and a few years later the beautiful Scottish Queen escaped into England in hopes of being rescued from her own nobles by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. This ended badly as well, with her execution in 1587 on charges of high treason against her cousin. And it all began because she wanted a fourth musician in her chamber. It should be noted that her son was born heathy and although he was taken from her at an early age, he eventually become King James VI and I, the first Stewart King of Great Britain.
Next stop in Medicine, Magic and Music: The Healing Properties of Music observed in the Lives of Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots & Elizabeth I is a look into how music and the arts flourished in the reign of Elizabeth I.
Sir Francis Bryan (or Bryant), an English poet and warrior, was born of a genteel family, educated at Oxford, and afterwards spent some time in travelling abroad.
Thus begins the entry for Sir Francis Bryan, a lifelong friend and companion to King Henry VIII, in General Biographical Dictionary, by Alexander Chalmers, 1812–1817.
Why is there a cloak of mystery around one of the most visual companions to King Henry VIII?
“No portrait survives so we know nothing of his appearance. Bryan was a typical Renaissance courtier, a poet and man of letters who was also to distinguish himself as a soldier, sailor and diplomat. His irresistible charm disguised an incorrigible intriguer who was two-faced, manipulative and promiscuous; once, on a trip to Calais, he demanded “a soft bed then a hard harlot”. He was full of pent-up energy; highly articulate and viciously witty. Observers were astonished at the familiarity he used towards the King, both in speaking his mind and telling jokes. Bryan was no creature of principle; by altering his loyalties and opinions to conform to the King’s changes of policy, he managed to remain in favour throughout the reign”
We have an equal supply of myths and documented information.
He was the son of Sir Thomas Bryan and Margaret Bourchier. Through his mother, he was a descendant of King Edward III, therefore giving him a royal Plantagenet pedigree.
We know he lost an eye in a joust. From that day he wore an eye patch. Did you know it is rumored that Alexander Dumas based the villain in The Three Musketeers on Sir Francis Bryan?
Sir Francis was a legendary carouser; known as one of the King’s minions. His behavior led Cardinal Wolsey to banish him from the Privy chamber. King Henry and Queen Anne saw to it that he was received back by 1528.
Oxford Historian, Susan Bridgen, writes of how he bedded a courtesan at the papal court to gain intelligence for King Henry VIII during the Great Matter of his divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon.
His nickname, “the Vicar of Hell”, was given to him by Thomas Cromwell, due to the vindictiveness he displayed during the downfall of his own relative, Queen Anne Boleyn.
Sir Francis was a relative of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane Seymour. As commanded by King Henry, he delivered a message to Jane Seymour when Queen Anne was sentenced, and he told Jane once the execution was completed.
A celebrated poet during his lifetime, the only documented copy which has survived until today is “The proverbes of Salmon do playnly declare” found in “The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603”.
He was questioned but not arrested during the Boleyn investigations.
It is rumored that the last words of King Henry VIII were, “Bryan all is lost.” This is based on family stories and I cannot find it documented.
At the time of his death, he was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland due to his marriage to Lady Joan Fitzgerald, widow of James Butler, the 9th Earl of Ormond. Their son, Francis Bryan II, served Queen Elizabeth I.
This is where the American legacy enters the picture. According to various family histories and the Register of Kentucky State Historical Society (4), the grandson of Sir Francis Bryan, William Smith Bryan, attempted to gain the throne of Ireland. Due to this, Oliver Cromwell deported him in 1650 as a troublesome subject. “He landed at Gloucester Beach, Virginia, and his twenty-one sons and grandsons settled Gloucester County.” An article in “The Thoroughbred Record” credits him with being among the first to bring thoroughbred horses to America.
It gets really interesting when the son of William Smith Bryan returned to Ireland in an attempt to regain the family estates. Long story short, it didn’t work. His two sons, William and Morgan, returned to Virginia.
This is where we will leave the details of this family story for another day. It should be noted that the daughter of Morgan Bryan, Rebecca, married an American frontiersman. That frontiersman is none other than the legendary, Daniel Boone.
So, we see how information may be lacking for the works and details of the life of Sir Francis Bryan. Would we be safe to assert that he had an eye for opportunity? (Pun intended.) He was known for his ability to survive, at a time when others could not be as adaptable. Now we see how his legacy lived on in the New World and played a part in shaping the character of a new country.
Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia, 1598.
Henry VIII: The King and His Court, Ballantine Books, 2001.
J. le Grand, Histoire du Divorce de Henri VIII, 1688.
Michael Drayton, Heroicall Epistle of the Earl of Surrey to the Lady Geraldine, 1629.
Sidney L. Lee. “Sir Francis Bryan”. Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. VII. Leslie Stephen, ed. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1886. 150-52.
The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature: 1485-1603.
1812 Chalmers’ Biography / B / Sir Francis Bryan (?–1550) [vol. 7, p. 203]
Alison Weir, Henry VIII and his Court, 2001.
Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 40, No. 132, pp. 318-322. C1974 KY State Historical Society, Frankfort, KY.
On turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know
expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only. I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend. And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart. No more, for fear of tiring you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours,
Though it is not fitting for a gentleman to take his lady in the place of a servant, yet, complying with your desire, I willingly grant it you, if thereby you can find yourself less uncomfortable in the place chosen by yourself, than you have been in that which I gave you, thanking you cordially that you are pleased still to have some remembrance of me. 6. n. A. 1 de A. o. na. v. e. z.
Although, my Mistress, it has not pleased you to remember the promise you made me when I was last with you — that is, to hear good news from you, and to have an answer to my last letter; yet it seems to me that it belongs to a true servant (seeing that otherwise he can know nothing) to inquire the health of his mistress, and to acquit myself of the duty of a true servant, I send you this letter, beseeching you to apprise me of your welfare, which I pray to God may continue as long as I desire mine own. And to cause you yet oftener to remember me, I send you, by the bearer of this, a buck killed late last night by my own hand, hoping that when you eat of it you may think of the hunter; and thus, for want of room, I must end my letter, written by the hand of your servant, who very often wishes for you instead of your brother.
MY MISTRESS & FRIEND, my heart and I surrender ourselves into your hands, beseeching you to hold us commended to your favour, and that by absence your affection to us may not be lessened: for it were a great pity to increase our pain, of which absence produces enough and more than I could ever have thought could be felt, reminding us of a point in astronomy which is this: the longer the days are, the more distant is the sun, and nevertheless the hotter; so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance from one another, and yet it retains its fervour, at least on my side; I hope the like on yours, assuring you that on my part the pain of absence is already too great for me; and when I think of the increase of that which I am forced to suffer, it would be almost intolerable, but for the firm hope I have of your unchangeable affection for me: and to remind you of this sometimes, and seeing that I cannot be personally present with you, I now send you the nearest thing I can to that, namely, my picture set in a bracelet, with the whole of the device, which you already know, wishing myself in their place, if it should please you. This is from the hand of your loyal servant and friend,
For a present so beautiful that nothing could be more so (considering the whole of it), I thank you most cordially, not only on account of the fine diamond and the ship in which the solitary damsel is tossed about, but chiefly for the fine interpretation and the too humble submission which your goodness hath used towards me in this case; for I think it would be very difficult for me to find an occasion to deserve it, if I were not assisted by your great humanity and favour, which I have
always sought to seek, and will seek to preserve by all the kindness in my power, in which my hope has placed its unchangeable intention, which says, Aut illic, aut nullibi.
The demonstrations of your affection are such, the beautiful mottoes of the letter so cordially expressed, that they oblige me for ever to honour, love, and serve you sincerely, beseeching you to continue in the same firm and constant purpose, assuring you that, on my part, I will surpass it rather than make it reciprocal, if loyalty of heart and a desire to please you can accomplish this.
I beg, also, if at any time before this I have in any way offended you, that you would give me the same absolution that you ask, assuring you, that henceforward my heart shall be dedicated to you alone. I wish my person was so too. God can do it, if He pleases, to whom I pray every day for that end, hoping that at length my prayers will be heard. I wish the time may be short, but I shall think it long till we see one another.
Written by the hand of that secretary, who in heart, body, and will, is, Your loyal and most assured Servant,
TO MY MISTRESS. Because the time seems very long since I heard concerning your health and you, the great affection I have for you has induced me to send you this bearer, to be better informed of your health and pleasure, and because, since my parting from you, I have been told that the opinion in which I left you is totally changed, and that you would not come to court either with your mother, if you could, or in any other manner; which report, if true, I cannot sufficiently marvel at, because I am sure that I have since never done any thing to offend you, and it seems a very poor return for the great love which I bear you to keep me at a distance both from the speech and the person of the woman that I esteem most in the world: and if you love me with as much affection as I hope you do, I am sure that the distance of our two persons would be a little irksome to you, though this does not belong so much to the mistress as to the servant.
Consider well, my mistress, that absence from you grieves me sorely, hoping that it is not your will that it should be so; but if I knew for certain that you voluntarily desired it, I could do no other than mourn my ill-fortune, and by degrees abate my great folly. And so, for lack of time, I make an end of this rude letter, beseeching you to give credence to this bearer in all that he will tell you from me.
Written by the hand of your entire Servant,
DARLING, these shall be only to advertise you that this bearer and his fellow be despatched with as many things to compass our matter, and to bring it to pass as our wits could imagine or devise; which brought to pass, as I trust, by their diligence, it shall be shortly, you and I shall have our desired end, which should be more to my heart’s ease, and more quietness to my mind, than any other thing in the world; as, with God’s grace, shortly I trust shall be proved, but not so soon as I would it were; yet I will ensure you that there shall be no time lost that may be won, and further can not be done; for ultra posse non est esse. Keep him not too long with you, but desire him, for your sake, to make the more speed; for the sooner we shall have word from him, the sooner shall our matter come to pass. And thus upon trust of your short repair to London, I make an end of my letter, my own sweet heart.
Written with the hand of him which desireth as much to be yours as you do to have him.
MY LORD, in my most humblest wise that my heart can think, I desire you to pardon me that I am so bold to trouble you with my simple and rude writing, esteeming it to proceed from her that is much desirous to know that your grace does well, as I perceive by this bearer that you do, the which I pray God long to continue, as I am most bound to pray; for I do know the great pains and troubles that you have taken for me both day and night is never likely to be recompensed on my part, but alonely in loving you, next unto the king’s grace, above all creatures living. And I do not doubt but
the daily proofs of my deeds shall manifestly declare and affirm my writing to be true, and I do trust you do think the same.
My lord, I do assure you, I do long to hear from you news of the legate; for I do hope, as they come from you, they shall be very good; and I am sure you desire it as much as I, and more, an it were possible; as I know it is not: and thus remaining in a steadfast hope, I make an end of my letter.
Written with the hand of her that is most bound to be
Your humble Servant,
The writer of this letter would not cease, till she had caused me likewise to set my hand, desiring you, though it be short, to take it in good part. I ensure you that there is neither of us but greatly desireth to see you, and are joyous to hear that you have escaped this plague so well, trusting the fury thereof to be passed, especially with them that keepeth good diet, as I trust you do. The not hearing of the legate’s arrival in France causeth us somewhat to muse; notwithstanding, we trust, by your diligence and vigilancy (with the assistance of Almighty God), shortly to be eased out of that trouble. No more to you at this time, but that I pray God send you as good health and prosperity as the writer would.
By your loving Sovereign and Friend,
There came to me suddenly in the night the most afflicting news that could have arrived. The first, to hear of the sickness of my mistress, whom I esteem more than all the world, and whose health I desire as I do my own, so that I would gladly bear half your illness to make you well. The second, from the fear that I have of being still longer harassed by my enemy, Absence, much longer, who has hitherto given me all possible uneasiness, and as far as I can judge is determined to spite me more because I pray God to rid me of this troublesome tormentor. The third, because the physician in whom I have most confidence, is absent at the very time when he might do me the greatest pleasure; for I should hope, by him and his means, to obtain one of my chief joys on earth — that is the care of my mistress — yet for want of him I send you my second, and hope that he will soon make you well. I shall then love him more than ever. I beseech you to be guided by his advice in your illness. In so doing I hope soon to see you again, which will be to me a greater comfort than all the precious jewels in the world.
Written by that secretary, who is, and for ever will be, your loyal and most assured Servant,
H. (A B) R.
The uneasiness my doubts about your health gave me, disturbed and alarmed me exceedingly, and I should not have had any quiet without hearing certain tidings. But now, since you have as yet felt nothing, I hope, and am assured that it will spare you, as I hope it is doing with us. For when we were at Walton, two ushers, two valets de chambres and your brother, master-treasurer, fell ill, but are now quite well; and since we have returned to our house at Hunsdon, we have been perfectly well, and have not, at present, one sick person, God be praised; and I think, if you would retire from Surrey, as we did, you would escape all danger. There is another thing that may comfort you, which is, that, in truth in this distemper few or no women have been taken ill, and what is more, no person of our court, and few elsewhere, have died of it. For which reason I beg you, my entirely beloved, not to frighten yourself nor be too uneasy at our absence; for wherever I am, I am yours, and yet we must sometimes submit to our misfortunes, for whoever will struggle against fate is generally but so much the farther from gaining his end: wherefore comfort yourself, and take courage and avoid the pestilence as much as you can, for I hope shortly to make you sing, la renvoyé. No more at present, from lack of time, but that I wish you in my arms, that I might a little dispel your unreasonable thoughts.
Written by the hand of him who is and alway will be yours,
Im- H. R. -mutable.
The cause of my writing at this time, good sweetheart, is only to understand of your good health and prosperity; whereof to know I would be as glad as in manner mine own, praying God that (an it be His pleasure) to send us shortly together, for I promise you I long for it. How be it, I trust it shall not be long to; and seeing my darling is absent, I can do no less than to send her some flesh, representing my name, which is hart flesh for Henry, prognosticating that hereafter, God willing, you may enjoy some of mine, which He pleased, I would were now.
As touching your sister’s matter, I have caused Walter Welze to write to my lord my mind therein, whereby I trust that Eve shall not have power to deceive Adam; for surely, whatsoever is said, it cannot so stand with his honour but that he must needs take her, his natural daughter, now in her extreme necessity.
No more to you at this time, mine own darling, but that with a wish I would we were together an evening.
With the hand of yours,
Since your last letters, mine own darling, Walter Welshe, Master Browne, Thos. Care, Grion of Brearton, and John Coke, the apothecary, be fallen of the sweat in this house, and, thanked be God, all well recovered, so that as yet the plague is not fully ceased here, but I trust shortly it shall. By the mercy of God, the rest of us yet be well, and I trust shall pass it, either not to have it, or, at the least, as easily as the rest have done.
As touching the matter of Wilton, my lord cardinal hath had the nuns before him, and examined them, Mr. Bell being present; which hath certified me that, for a truth, she had confessed herself (which we would have had abbess) to have had two children by two sundry priests; and, further, since hath been kept by a servant of the Lord Broke that was, and that not long ago. Wherefore I would not, for all the gold in the world, clog your conscience nor mine to make her ruler of a house which is of so ungodly demeanour; nor, I trust, you would not that neither for brother nor sister, I should so destain mine honour or conscience. And, as touching the prioress, or Dame Eleanor’s eldest sister, though there is not any evident case proved against them, and that the prioress is so old that for many years she could not be as she was named; yet notwithstanding, to do you pleasure, I have done that neither of them shall have it, but that some other good and well-disposed woman shall have it, whereby the house shall be the better reformed (whereof I ensure you it had much need), and God much the better served.
As touching your abode at Hever, do therein as best shall like you, for you best know what air doth best with you; but I would it were come thereto (if it pleased God), that neither of us need care for that, for I ensure you I think it long. Suche is fallen sick of the sweat, and therefore I send you this bearer, because I think you long to hear tidings from us, as we do likewise from you.
Written with the hand de votre seul,
The approach of the time for which I have so long waited rejoices me so much, that it seems almost to have come already. However, the entire accomplishment cannot be till the two persons meet, which meeting is more desired by me than anything in this world; for what joy can be greater upon earth than to have the company of her who is dearest to me, knowing likewise that she does the same on her part, the thought of which gives me the greatest pleasure.
Judge what an effect the presence of that person must have on me, whose absence has grieved my heart more than either words or writing can express, and which nothing can cure, but that begging you, my mistress, to tell your father from me, that I desire him to hasten the time appointed by two days, that he may be at court before the old term, or, at farthest, on the day prefixed; for otherwise I shall think he will not do the lover’s turn, as he said he would, nor answer my expectation.
No more at present for lack of time, hoping shortly that by word of mouth I shall tell you the rest of the sufferings endured by me from your absence.
Written by the hand of the secretary, who wishes himself at this moment privately with you, and who is, and always will be,
Your loyal and most assured Servant,
H. no other A B seek R.
DARLING, I heartily recommend me to you, ascertaining you that I am not a little perplexed with such things as your brother shall on my part declare unto you, to whom I pray you give full credence, for it were too long to write. In my last letters I writ to you that I trusted shortly to see you, which is better known at London than with any that is about me, whereof I not a little marvel; but lack of discreet handling must needs be the cause thereof. No more to you at this time, but that I trust shortly our meetings shall not depend upon other men’s light handlings, but upon our own.
Written with the hand of him that longeth to be yours.
MINE own SWEETHEART, this shall be to advertise you of the great elengeness that I find here since your departing; for, I ensure you methinketh the time longer since your departing now last, than I was wont to do a whole fortnight. I think your kindness and my fervency of love causeth it; for, otherwise, I would not have thought it possible that for so little a while it should have grieved me. But now that I am coming towards you, methinketh my pains be half removed; and also I am right well comforted in so much that my book maketh substantially for my matter; in looking whereof I have spent above four hours this day, which causeth me now to write the shorter letter to you at this time, because of some pain in my head; wishing myself (especially an evening) in my sweetheart’s arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss.
Written by the hand of him that was, is, and shall be yours by his own will,
DARLING, Though I have scant leisure, yet, remembering my promise, I thought it convenient to certify you briefly in what case our affairs stand. As touching a lodging for you, we have got one by my lord cardinal’s means, the like whereof could not have been found hereabouts for all causes, as this bearer shall more show you. As touching our other affairs, I assure you there can be no more done, nor more diligence used, nor all manner of dangers better both foreseen and provided for, so that I trust it shall be hereafter to both our comforts, the specialities whereof were both too long to be written, and hardly by messenger to be declared. Wherefore, till you repair hither, I keep something in store, trusting it shall not be long to; for I have caused my lord, your father, to make his provisions with speed; and thus for lack of time, darling, I make an end of my letter, written with the hand of him which I would were yours.
The reasonable request of your last letter, with the pleasure also that I take to know them true, causeth me to send you these news. The legate which we most desire arrived at Paris on Sunday or Monday last past, so that I trust by the next Monday to hear of his arrival at Calais: and then I trust within a while after to enjoy that which I have so long longed for, to God’s pleasure and our both comforts.
No more to you at this present, mine own darling, for lack of time, but that I would you were in mine arms, or I in yours, for I think it long since I kissed you.
Written after the killing of a hart, at eleven of the clock, minding, with God’s grace, to-morrow, mightily timely, to kill another, by the hand which, I trust, shortly shall be yours.
To inform you what joy it is to me to understand of your conformableness with reason, and of the suppressing of your inutile and vain thoughts with the bridle of reason. I assure you all the good in this world could not counterpoise for my satisfaction the knowledge and certainty thereof, wherefore, good sweetheart, continue the same, not only in this, but in all your doings hereafter; for thereby shall come, both to you and me, the greatest quietness that may be in this world.
The cause why the bearer stays so long, is the business I have had to dress up gear for you; and which I trust, ere long to cause you occupy: then I trust to occupy yours, which shall be recompense enough to me for all my pains and labour.
The unfeigned sickness of this well-willing legate doth somewhat retard his access to your person; but I trust verily, when God shall send him health, he will with diligence recompense his demur. For I know well where he hath said (touching the saying and bruit that he is thought imperial) that it shall be well known in this matter that he is not imperial; and thus, for lack of time, sweetheart, farewell.
Written with the hand which fain would be yours, and so is the heart.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July, 1527. “Aut illic, aut nullibi.” Either there, ornowhere.
The signature means “H. seeks no other (heart). R.”
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. This letter was written in July, 1527.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written February, 1528. “Ultra posse non est esse.” One can’t do more than the possible.
Anne Boleyn to Cardinal Wolsey. MS. Cott. Vitellius, B. xii. f. 4. Written June 11, 1528. Printed by Ellis as from Katherine of Arragon. There is another letter from Anne to Wolsey, thanking him for a present. It is very similar to this, and is found in MS. Cott. Otho. c. x. f. 218 (printed in Burnet, i, 104, and in Ellis, Original Letters, vol. i).
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written June 16, 1528.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. This letter was written June 20. “It.” The sweating sickness. This is the 1528 epidemic.
“Your brother.” George Boleyn, afterwards Viscount Rochford, executed 1536 on a charge of incest.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written about June 22, 1528. “Welze” is the same person as “Welshe” on p. xxx.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 6 (?), 1528. “Suche” is probably Zouch.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 20, 1528.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written July 21, 1528.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written August, 1528. “Elengeness.” Loneliness, misery.
“My book.” On the unlawfulness of his marriage with Katherine.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written August 20, 1528.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written September 16, 1528. Campeggio actually arrived at Calais on Monday, September 14.
Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Written at the end of October, 1528.
Originally published via Medium.com – All Things Tudor
With the 2015 U.S. release of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Americans were re-introduced to the lure of England’s King Henry VIII. Many of us have shared a passion for this era in history for a while, yet others learned of the intrigue and drama of this era for the first time. In Wolf Hall, Mantel paints a literary portrait of a very human Thomas Cromwell, a man who has been viewed by centuries of historians and authors as the henchman of King Henry. Cromwell was a common man who rose to prominence based on his own merits, unlike most of the courtiers at the Henrician Court whose power was a consequence of birth.
Seeing Cromwell from a more humanist point of view made me curious about what history hides from us and what is revealed. I am impressed by blogs which tout Cromwell as being very American in his ambitions. We look at a pivotal piece of the Tudor puzzle, Queen Anne Boleyn, and know so little about her. Today, she is loved by many because of what has survived over the centuries. Her legacy of independence and her fiery nature invoke a camaraderie of spirit in a segment of contemporary females. But what of other members of the court? What do we really know about a few who were favourites of the King? If Cromwell is viewed across the centuries by our standards, how will we view others?
History tells us stories of Sir Francis Bryan, the ‘Vicar of Hell,’ as he was nicknamed by Cromwell, due to Bryan’s machinations in the downfall of Queen Anne Boleyn. Bryan played a role in the rise of Queen Jane Seymour – both of these women were his relatives. Stories of his loyalty to King Henry survive. Maintaining a friendship with this volatile ruler was no small feat in an era when many lost their lives due to his whims. Tales of Bryan’s life as a libertine and seducer of women still prevail.
Yet, this is the man King Henry VIII trusted to tell Katherine of Aragon that she was summoned to divorce court. He was sent to let Lady Jane Seymour know of the conviction of Queen Anne Boleyn and to tell her of the execution. Sir Francis Bryan was the man dispatched to bring Anne of Cleves to court. Would you send a known libertine and womanizer to attend your wives and girlfriends?
We will address this matter on another day.
During research, I found this notation to be amusing. J. le Grand, in his Histoire du Divorce de Henri VIII, 1688, writes of Sir Francis Bryan: “Neveu de Norfolc, et cousin germain d’Anne Boulen. On crût qu’avec cet apuy, il ne manqueroit pas de s’élever, et on le considera pendant quelque tems comme un favory naissant, mais il ne put se soutenir. Il aimoit boire et etoit fort sujet a mentir.”
This translates loosely as: “Nephew of Norfolk, first cousin of Anne Boleyn. One would think that with this background, he could not fail to advance, and for a time, he was considered the emerging favourite, but he could not support his position. He loved drinking and had a talent for mistruth.”
(And, to think Sir Francis favoured the French over the Spanish during his day. Little thanks he received, right?)
What I have found most intriguing about this man is his poetry. During the Tudor Era, he was known as a great poet and translator. Like many English Renaissance courtiers, he immersed himself in literary studies. According to scholars, he may be ‘Brian’ whom Erasmus mentions in his writings. He was a close friend of the poets Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Like them, he wrote poetry and was held in high regard for his literary achievements during his lifetime and into the 1600s. There is little to be found of his work today. What we do know is that Wyatt dedicated a satire to Sir Francis Bryan on the complexities of life of a courtier, and notes Bryan’s literary acumen.
Francis Meres describes Sir Francis Bryan as ‘the most passionate among us to bewail and bemoan the complexities of love.’ ‘Us’ being the great English poets of the day. The Stewart era poet, Michael Drayton, wrote…
whom the Muses kept,
And in his cradle
rockt him while he slept
Drayton also names Bryan as “honouring Surrey ‘in sacred verses most divinely pen’d.’”
The only surviving poem of Sir Francis Bryan is “The proverbes of Salmon do playnly declare.” The proverbes, as the basis for Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Third Satire, has been a fascination for historians and literati during the 20th century and continues today. I’ve found myself ensnared in this search for any of Sir Francis Bryan’s works. How could someone so prolific and renowned during their lifetime disappear from history with only one existing work surviving to the modern day?
Contemporary musician Sir Mick Jagger is quoted as saying, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Modern historians and authors have labelled Bryan with statements such as “an irresistible charm disguised an incorrigible intriguer.”
By the standards of his time, Sir Francis Bryan was considered the ideal courtier and poet. He remained loyal to King Henry VIII until his untimely demise, at which time it is believed he was poisoned by his wife. By our standards, if Cromwell is to be judged as American due to his ability to seize opportunities, then possibly, Sir Francis Bryan is the first rock star.
February 2, 1550 Sir Francis Bryan, controversial courtier, diplomat and poet died in Clonmel in Ireland.
(Book One in Anne Boleyn Alternate History Trilogy)
Anne Boleyn has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows. Her story has been told by writers many times. How is your historical fiction series different?
In my first book, Between Two Kings, I re-imagined the life of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. When I think about Anne and her tragic fate, I want to rescue her from execution on trumped-up charges of adultery, high treason, and incest. Every time I visit the Tower of London, I see the place where she was executed, and I imagine that if I had been in the crowd watching her unjust death, I would have shouted, “Stop it! She is innocent!”
As a result of my fascination with Anne and her tragic life, I decided to write an alternate history novel about her where she does not die on the 19th of May 1536. Between Two Kings is part one of my exciting series that reimagines Anne Boleyn’s story in a unique way: having narrowly escaped her execution, she becomes the Queen of France. In a sense, Anne follows in Eleanor of Aquitaine’s footsteps.
My writing style is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism with beautiful and compact descriptions. In this series, I’m working to re-create the cultural atmosphere of the Renaissance and Tudor eras (my favorite periods!), giving my readers a strong sense of place to let them make the imaginative leap into these captivating times.
This series will appeal to you because this story is about a one-of-a-kind medieval woman, who excelled in a man’s world, and whose fate has been transformed into something utterly spectacular. Over the course of the novel, Anne emerges as a great Renaissance queen, whose indomitable nature refuses to surrender and enables her ascent to power again.
Perfect for fans of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, Judith Arnopp, Laura Andersen, Tony Riches, and other Tudor authors, as well as fans movies and shows of the Tudors.
Are there sequels to Between Two Kings?
In the second book, The Queen’s Revenge, Anne perseveres in her quest for justice and vengeance on the narcissistic, homicidal King Henry. Her odyssey takes Anne from a world of gloom, across the barren landscape of ruin and the tempestuous waters of peril, to a realm of potential happiness in her marriage to the flamboyant, chivalrous King François. Meanwhile, politics and disquieting intrigues abound…
The later sequels explore deadly plots against Queen Anne and King François, including those of Anne’s Catholic enemies. The Valois couple struggle, and intrigues against Emperor Charles V and King Henry VIII are woven into their story, for the English monarch will try to extract his own vengeance on his former wife. This culminates in a war of kings with unexpected participants. King Henry’s marriages to his historical wives have their own interpretation. Charles V’s union with Isabella of Portugal might not have an outcome as tragic as the one in history.
Beyond its theme of vengeance, The Queen’s Revenge is an optimistic tale of good triumphing over adversity and of Anne finding new love and building a life in France. The third book, The Boleyn Queen of France, is the tale of Anne’s life in France after everyone in Europe learns the identity of the mysterious French queen. It also explores how she grows into her new role as a French queen. The political background of the story is organically embedded into the romantic and suspenseful storyline.
Do any of the books in the series end in cliff-hangers? Are the books stand alone?
I’ve structured the trilogy so that the books end with exciting, pivotal moments. I created a sense of completion in Between Two Kings. Although The Queen’s Revenge concludes the plotline of Anne’s vengeance, it includes a political cliff-hanger centering on themes that will be developed and resolved in the third book.
Enough information is provided in every book, so a new reader will not be lost.
What is important for writers to create a plausible alternate history reality?
I love history because it shows how people lived in a completely different world. It reveals something new about the world, people, human evolution, traditions, and the way of life in different periods of time. Nevertheless, I often wish to explore history from new angles and to re-imagine events or fates of my favorite historical figures. What if certain events had never happened or had occurred in a different way?
It is a challenge to imagine and construct a plausible alternate history reality. You have to take real historical events and people, analyze them meticulously, and think how events could have unfolded differently, and how people would have responded to altered circumstances. If you like alternate history, you will definitely adore my alternate history universe.
Many are aggrieved with the unjust end of Anne Boleyn’s life. She was most certainly innocent of all the accusations leveled against her, and our hearts weep at the thought of her last days in the Tower of London and how she lost everything, even her life. In my series, I’ve created an alternate universe for Anne that includes the Tudor, Valois, Habsburg, and even Medici storylines, combining them in a plausible way.
I hope you will join me as we reimagine the fate of one of history’s most intriguing woman.
Olivia has always loved literature and fiction, and she is passionate about historical research, genealogy, and the arts. She has several degrees in finance & general management from London Business School (LBS) and other universities. At present, she helps her father run the family business.
During her first trip to France at the age of ten, Olivia had a life-changing epiphany when she visited the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau and toured its library. This truly transformed her life as she realized her passion for books and writing, foreshadowing her future career as a writer. In childhood, she began writing stories and poems in different languages. Loving writing more than anything else in her life, Olivia has resolved to devote her life to creating historical fiction novels. She has a special interest in the history of France and England.
May 17, 1536, the Tower of London, London, England
“The march of mortality has begun, Your Majesty. Now they are all walking to the scaffold.” The soft female voice was laced with compassion and melancholy.
Anne Boleyn, the anointed Queen of England, turned her head to the young woman, who stood on top of a chair in front of a small window. The queen saw the sympathy written all over her face, and a smile of gratitude flitted across her own pale features. Although the ladies who served her in the Tower had been handpicked by Thomas Cromwell and were his spies, they all treated her as a queen, despite her disgrace, and some empathized with her sufferings.
The announcement tolled a mournful knell and dealt a crushing blow to Anne’s very soul, a reminder of her own imminent death. “Thank you,” she replied as she rose from the bed.
Anne hastily crossed the chamber and stopped near the window. As Lady Anne Shelton climbed down from the chair, the queen took her place and peered out, fixing her eyes on the large crowd that had gathered on Tower Green. Chains of dread began pulling at her spirit.
George Boleyn, Viscount of Rochford, as the highest-ranking man among the condemned prisoners, faced the axe first. Her view was not perfect because of the lattice on the window, but Anne was still able to see Tower Green well enough. Her brother mounted the scaffold and made a speech before the throng; she regretted that she could not hear his final words.
His countenance tranquil and dignified, George knelt at the block. A petrified Anne watched the executioner practice strokes several times above her brother’s neck, then swing the axe high in the air, and down, landing with a resounding crack. An instant late, George’s severed head fell into a pile of straw, and a spray of blood spurted out of his body.
The queen’s countenance whitened to a ghostly pallor, and her jaw dropped in shock. Waves of unbearable pain washed over her, pummeling her like storm-driven tides lashing a hapless shore. George, her favorite brother, was dead! Anne would never see George again, would never rely upon his support, advice, and consolation. Only two pieces were left of him.
Her throat constricted, and tears pricked at the back of her eyes, all her energy drained away. However, Anne steeled herself against the devastating emotions and watched. She did not move until the scaffold was littered with mutilated corpses, until all of her alleged lovers – George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, William Brereton, Henry Norris, and Francis Weston – were no longer in the world of the living, caught in the coils of the fiendish conspiracy waged against her.
The universe was now tinged in crimson hues of slaughter, and it seemed that the deities of death were performing a gruesome dance across the room. Unable to contain her pain any longer, Anne howled with horror, descended from her chair, and collapsed to the floor in a heap. She buried her head in her hands, her screams dissolving into blood-curdling wails of despair.
Anne did not care who heard her. “Why? Why? Why?” she sobbed.
Moved by such grief, the queen’s ladies, witnessing this woeful scene, cried as well.
Lady Eleanor Hampton approached Anne. “Your Majesty, please…” The woman stopped speaking, uncertain about what to say until empathy took over. “Let me help you get to bed.”
The distraught Queen of England wept, wept, and wept. Her anguished heart hurt so much that she wondered how it was possible to still be alive. She cried so hard that she could not breathe, releasing all the stress of the past weeks in an abysmal lake of tears.
“We are all innocent!” bemoaned Anne. “I’ve loved King Henry, my lord and husband, for years! I’ve never sinned against him with my body and mind!” Her features contorted as a sob racked her trembling form. “Why did he kill them? Why does he want me dead?”
The others gasped and shuddered in dread, for it was high treason to speak such words.
Anne cried until she had no more tears to shed, and her whole being was fractured with the enormity of the unjust executions which had just taken place. Finally, she summoned sufficient self-control to calm down and was able to stand up. She wobbled to the bed in chilling silence.
“They shall find peace in heaven.” The queen settled herself on the bed.
Lying on the bed, Anne struggled to comprehend why her husband, King Henry VIII of England, believed the absurd story of her multiple adulteries, incest, and other acts of treason. Thomas Cromwell had orchestrated her plight. But what was Henry’s role in it? Had Cromwell deliberately misled the king? Or did the monarch know that all the accusations against her were false but chose not to care, wishing to end their marriage without another lengthy divorce?
The deposed queen reckoned that Henry had not commanded his chief minister to fabricate the charges; it was all Cromwell’s conspiracy against her. Yet, it changed nothing because her beloved brother and the other men were all murdered by the king. Anne ruminated on how Henry now fancied himself in love with Jane Seymour and, driven by his lust for that plain, undereducated wench, was ready to go to any lengths to rid himself of his inconvenient wife.
Anne looked across at her ladies, who kept at a little distance from her.
Her lips curled in a bitter grin. “My only fault is that I’ve not birthed Henry’s son.”
“Your Majesty…” one of the women commenced, then abruptly trailed off.
“Leave me be,” the queen enjoined. “I’ll mourn for them in silence.”
They nodded and curtsied; then they retired to the opposite side of the room.
The queen snuggled into rough linen sheets, nasty and uncomfortable. She closed her eyes, endeavoring to block out the harrowing reality. “My God… Why?”
Everyone had betrayed Anne: they had all left her like rats running away from a sinking ship, even her father. Her loneliness was so deep and sharp, as if she had been hollowed out. For the first time in her life, she abhorred her husband with every fiber of her being; Henry’s horrendous betrayals were festering wounds on her heart, all of them putrid and vile.
“I do hate you with all my soul, Henry,” hissed Anne under her breath. “I shall never forgive you for the atrocities you have committed in your quest for freedom from me.”
Chapter 1: An Unexpected Discovery
May 18, 1536, the Tower of London, London, England
“I’m doomed,” Anne whispered to herself with resignation. “They will gladly wash their hands in my blood. Death begins its walk towards us the day we are born, but the fact that one passes away does not prove that they lived. I’ve lived and loved like no one else!”
Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, lay on a bed, its headboard carved with lions, which dominated the sparsely furnished chamber. Her heart was fragmenting with pain, as if the merciless hands of destiny were pulling it apart. Her thoughts reeled like a trapped bird flinging itself against the bars of a cage in vain attempts to regain its freedom, but only succeeding in hurting itself more and more.
Despite it being a fine May day outside, it was chilly inside the Tower apartments, where she had been confined since her arrest. The cold weather mirrored the chill in her soul. The stark reality was dreadful: she had been accused of multiple adulteries, of enjoying an incestuous relationship with her own brother, George, and of plotting the English monarch’s murder. The latter charge was a veiled accusation of treason because her husband was the King of England.
It was truly ludicrous that the queen, who was always attended by her ladies, could have had numerous secret lovers for such a long time. In several cases, her alleged paramours had not even been present at the places where her prosecutors claimed she had undertaken illicit encounters with them. There was no evidence whatsoever that she had plotted the ruler’s death. Her trial had been an unjust farce! Twenty-six peers had declared her guilty of all charges, and she had been unjustly condemned to be either beheaded or burned according to the king’s pleasure.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, entered. Anne rose from the bed and stepped to him, smiling a welcome; Cranmer could not save her, and she still viewed him as a friend.
In the next moment, Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower of London, walked in.
The queen’s ladies watched their mistress with doleful expressions from a distance. During these weeks, she had been attended by five women, who had served either Catherine of Aragon or her daughter, Mary Tudor. Anne knew that they all were obliged to report anything she might say or do to William Kingston, while he, in turn, informed Cromwell about the prisoner’s behavior.
Archbishop Cranmer lowered his gaze. “My lady, I bring word from the king.” He sighed. “Your marriage to His Majesty has been annulled.” Grief shadowed his expression.
Anne stared at him with unseeing eyes, and her heart compressed into a dense ball of distress. The words of Henry’s denial of their marriage sounded in her mind like the tolling of a funeral bell. How was it possible? Among her turbulent emotions, disbelief overrode all others.
“Has it really happened, Your Grace?” Her world was breaking, piece by piece, into fragments, and she felt as utterly hopeless as a captain at sea might, if marooned without a compass to guide him.
“I’m so sorry, Madame.” Cranmer averted his eyes, his dejected sigh wafting through the air. “Your daughter, the Lady Elizabeth, has been declared a bastard.” He veered his gaze to her.
Anne nodded, and a ghastly blend of anguish and fear engulfed her. Questions flew through her mind like arrows seeking a target in the dead of night. Why was Henry treating both her and their daughter so callously? Why and when did he become such an iron-hearted beast? Even though she had fallen from his good graces, why did he punish their innocent child?
Her inability to find these answers shackled her in the chains of endless misery with no hope of liberation. Why is Henry so callous to me? His deeds symbolize the very essence of ruthlessness. I loved him more than life itself, but he ceased feeling anything even vaguely resembling affection for me. It seemed as if he wanted to cause her more heartache by annulling their union only a matter of days before her scheduled execution. Henry’s cruelty was as boundless as the sky.
The former queen composed herself with a gargantuan effort. Her fathomless dark pools gleamed with warped humor. “This surprise is the best gift His Majesty could grant me. Of course, he has played his last trump card. I should have expected that.”
The archbishop blanched. “Madame, please…”
A semblance of contrition suffused her face. “I don’t know what has come over me.”
Once more, Cranmer found himself astonished with the self-control she was displaying. “I promise I’ll do my best to safeguard and help your daughter in any way I can.”
A grateful Anne murmured, “Thank you very much.”
The time for her last confession had arrived. “Your Grace,” she called, “I beseech you to hear my last confession.” Her gaze oscillated between the archbishop and the constable. “I’d like Master Kingston to stay and listen to what I say when I confess the truth.”
She wanted Constable William Kingston to hear everything for an important reason. His witnessing her last confession on earth meant that there was a small chance that, in the future, the people of England, including the king, would learn of her innocence.
Kingston nodded. “As you wish, Madame.”
Cranmer took a seat, and Anne knelt in front of him. As she trained her eyes upon him, his heart twisted in helpless agony at the sight of the great woman whom he respected and loved.
“Madame, speak honestly and truthfully,” intoned the archbishop.
“Yes.” Anne dragged a deep and shuddering breath, as if it were her last. “Before the Lord, I confess my innocence of all the charges brought against me. I solemnly swear upon my eternal soul that I’ve never been unfaithful to King Henry, my lord and husband, although I’ve not always treated him with the obedience, respect, and humility which I owed him as a wife.”
She paused for another breath, and then continued in a voice layered with confidence, “God is all-seeing and knows that I’m innocent of these accusations.” She trailed off, leaned forward, and grabbed the Bible from a nearby table. “The Almighty is my witness that during my relationship with His Majesty, never once, by word or look, have I made the slightest attempt to interest any other man in my humble person. I was a true maid when the king first took me to his bed.”
A crestfallen silence reigned in the chamber. A muted sadness hung in the air.
Anne proceeded, “I do not say this in the hope that the king will exonerate me of all the phony charges, for I’ve accepted my fate. But there is something that you must all know.” Her eyes blazing with an inner fire of truth, she promulgated, “I’m carrying King Henry’s child.”
A ripple of astonishment flitted through the group of women, who had also heard it.
In these moments of her triumph, Anne felt herself like a messenger of a higher power who had charged her with divine strength. “On the eve of my execution, I’ve realized that I’m pregnant. Fate has a bizarre sense of humor, don’t you think so? I’ve felt rather unwell during the past few weeks, but I attributed my sickness to the horror of my situation and to my constant stress. Nevertheless, now I have no doubt as to my condition, and I’m certain that a physician shall confirm.”
“This is the Lord’s doing!” A smile of hope illumined Cranmer’s face.
All pairs of amazed eyes were glued to the former mistress of their sovereign’s heart.
Still on her knees in front of the archbishop, she crossed herself. “I solemnly swear that the king’s child is growing inside of me. I beg you to allow it to be born. Regardless of what might befall me in the future, my baby is innocent of any crime – it must live.”
“Lady Anne, I shall do everything to help you.” Cranmer removed the Bible from her hands and then clasped them in his own. “This child is a blessing.”
Tears burned like red-hot pokers behind her eyes. “Your Grace, Elizabeth and this child will need friends after my death. His Majesty will not spare me, but I want my babe to live.”
“Madame, I cannot guarantee that…” The archbishop’s voice faltered.
With salty liquid glistening on her cheeks, Anne looked as if the skin on her face were woven through with silver threads of anguish. “I’m sorry for the sins I’ve really committed. At times, I was callous to those who did not deserve it. However, I do not dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, because the Lord forgives those who repent, and my contrition is sincere.”
Anne inclined her head slightly after finishing her confession. At this moment, she looked so humble, so gentle, and so honest that her touching beauty tugged at everyone’s heartstrings.
Her ladies were now crying. Having heard her speak from the bottom of her heart, they no longer believed that their mistress was guilty of the allegations leveled against her.
Archbishop Cranmer made the sign of a cross on the doomed woman’s forehead. “Master Kingston, go fetch a doctor and a midwife. As Lady Anne asked you to stay in order to share her last confession with the world, never forget this day and comply with her request.”
Kingston stood up and bowed. “You have my word.”
In half an hour, the doctor and the midwife appeared in the queen’s apartments. After a careful examination, they voiced their conclusion – Anne was indeed with child.
That evening, Anne Boleyn stood near the window, watching an eerie darkness blanket the firmament. It might be her last night on earth. Would God interfere? Would she be saved? She was a realist: the king would no doubt insist that the father was one of her alleged lovers.
To distract herself from these traumatic musings, she resorted to a mental journey into her early youth: her carefree childhood at Hever Castle with her siblings, Mary and George, and her parents – Elizabeth and Thomas Boleyn, who had been such a loving father back then.
With fondness, she reminisced about her years at the court of Archduchess Margaret of Austria. A small girl in 1513, she had been one of Margaret’s eighteen filles d’honneur. Margaret had found and hired a suitable tutor so that Anne could learn the French language and master the sophistication of court life; she had been so eager to join the various entertainments.
Yet, Anne had preferred the happy time at the French court, where, despite her youth, she had served to Queen Claude of France, King François’s first wife. She remembered the golden years of her adolescence. Anne had stayed with Queen Claude for nearly seven years, spending most of that time in the Loire Valley, at Châteaux Amboise and Blois, where the queen had usually resided.
The English court could not rival the more refined European courts. Thus, Anne had focused on acquiring a profound knowledge of French etiquette and courtesy while having lived in majestic Renaissance splendor in France. She had completed her study of the French language and cultivated her interests in fashions, humanism, theology, music, and the arts. Yet, Anne’s life had not always been public since Queen Claude had spent much time in confinement during her annual pregnancies.
Anne recalled her conversations with Marguerite d’Angoulême, King François’ sister. At that time, Marguerite had been the Duchess d’Alençon; now she was the Queen of Navarre. Marguerite was a prominent patron of humanists and reformers, as well as a talented author in her own right. She had encouraged her entourage to engage in discussions on a multitude of topics, including theology, and Anne had participated in these. Anne hoped that Marguerite would remember her fondly.
With this comforting thought, a flood of half-hope, half-relief swarmed the condemned woman, refusing to be contained – Anne laughed merrily, as if genuinely amused by something. Her ladies-in-waiting granted her odd looks, but Anne’s smile widened, and then she laughed again. Nonetheless, burdened by the hopelessness and injustice of her situation, her mood then swerved to one of deep despondency. Staring into the darkness, she swallowed hard, suppressing sudden sobs.
A whole swarm of memories of Henry whirled through her brain, and a strong wave of dismay assaulted her as she reflected on their relationship. Henry had been so passionately in love with her, and she with him. Her mind drifted through memories of their long, romantic courtship. The monarch’s countless professions of love and his promises echoed through her mind like a sardonic snicker, taunting her – by now, each of them had proved to be worthless and meaningless.
Images of her little Elizabeth inundated her head. Henry had been utterly disappointed with the birth of a healthy daughter, but Anne loved Elizabeth with every fibre of her being since the midwife had placed the baby girl into her arms. An intense cold swept over her at the remembrance of how two unborn children had died in her womb. Her second miscarriage had been triggered by the shock she had felt upon seeing Henry’s adulterous kiss with Jane Seymour, who had been sitting in his lap.
That night, sleep eluded Anne for a long time, and she rested on the bed, staring at the ceiling pretending to be asleep, but listening to her ladies’ quiet conversation.
Her two aunts – Lady Anne Shelton née Boleyn, Thomas Boleyn’s elder sister, and Lady Elizabeth Boleyn née Wood, wife of Sir James Boleyn, Anne’s uncle – sat together at the table.
In a voice colored with total incredulity, Lady Anne Shelton murmured, “What an unexpected and bewildering turns of events! What will happen tomorrow?”
“The execution should be rescheduled, but we cannot guess the outcome.” Lady Elizabeth Boleyn’s utterance was more in hope than belief that the monarch would reprieve her niece.
Three other ladies approached and settled themselves around the table.
Lady Eleanor Hampton chimed in, “A pregnant woman cannot be sent to the scaffold.”
“That would be unlawful,” stressed Lady Margaret Coffin.
“Indeed,” Lady Mary Kingston concurred. “But her fate is sealed after the child’s birth.”
Lady Boleyn sighed. “It must be the king’s babe.” Everyone nodded.
“This is so unfair,” muttered Margaret Coffin. Her companions dipped their heads.
Anne squeezed her eyes shut, her world narrowing to concerns about the little creature she already loved. Sliding her palms under her nightgown, she lay them flat against her stomach. Henry, you would not dare murder a pregnant woman… That would imperil your immortal soul! Or will you? She busied herself with praying for her daughter, Elizabeth, and her unborn child.
May 19, 1536, Palace of Whitehall, London, England
The first rays of the spring sun warmed the white ashlar stone walls of Whitehall, the former York Place, which had once been owned by the late Cardinal Wolsey. The building was still being extended and redesigned, and King Henry had invested heavily in this project, planning to make it a grand masterpiece of Tudor architecture to rival those of his French counterpart.
It was a little past dawn and several hours before Anne Boleyn’s execution. In spite of the early hour, the court was wide-awake, and a sense of anticipation was palpable in the air.
Meanwhile, the royal apartments were alive with the morning traffic of servants. King Henry had been woken early as Thomas Cromwell requested an immediate audience with him.
“Damn Cromwell,” the ruler cursed as he yawned. He was still abed, reluctant to get up so early. “It must be something extraordinarily urgent if my chief minister dared ignore the official protocol regarding the rules and hours for gaining an audience with me.”
An old man, his face sharp-chinned and withered, approached the monarch’s bed canopied with a red brocade cloth. His once strawberry blonde hair had faded to a rusty graying color, and now it almost matched his pale brown serge attire. He was William Sandys, Baron Sandys of the Vyne and Lord Chamberlain of the royal household, as well as the king’s favorite.
“Good morning, Your Majesty,” began Sandys. “Which clothes should we prepare?”
The king’s face split into a grin. “I’ll wear vibrant colors today.”
“As you wish.” Lord Chamberlain aided him to climb out of bed.
With a menacing air about him, Henry pontificated, “History will remember this day forever. The Boleyn witch shall be punished for her odious crimes against God and her sovereign. Neither my court nor I will mourn for her. I’ve decided to wear the color blood red.”
“This color suits you, sire,” William Sandys said, his features shock-whitened. His feelings over Anne Boleyn’s execution were conflicted, but it was not his place to decide.
The monarch stood dressed in a white taffeta shirt with a standing collar, wrought with red silk. His doublet of crimson brocade glittered with rubies and diamonds. Scarlet silk hose were pulled up his legs and fixed to points hanging from around his waist. A purple velvet cap with a red ostrich feather was placed upon his head; a long gold chain with massive rubies adorned his neck. It was as though his attire symbolized the slaughter of the Boleyn adulteress, which the king craved.
Henry marched to the presence chamber, passing many courtiers, who all bowed and curtsied as he strutted forward, but he acknowledged only a few with a slight nod.
Burly and powerfully built, the handsome English ruler inspired sheer awe and yet terror of his power. Not all of his subjects were comfortable when that aquamarine gaze, intense and hard, came to rest upon them. Broad of face, his rather small eyes and a well-formed, yet petulant and small, mouth, sat beneath the short, straight, auburn hair that showed from beneath his cap.
Henry towered majestically a head above most of his court, although his French archrival, King François I, was taller, which stirred jealousy in him. Henry had inherited the attractive looks of his maternal grandfather, King Edward IV, and carried the best of the York and Tudor features.
“Good morning, Your Majesty!” his nobles chorused.
Henry’s countenance was like that of a mighty sovereign without earthly peer, which usually impressed his subjects. Yet, today his appearance, tinged with hues of blood red, frightened them. His whole being exuded the savage darkness, which had always lurked within him, and it was now so close to the surface that courtiers could feel the breath of his inner beast.
As the king stormed into the presence chamber, Thomas Cromwell dropped into a deep bow.
A silence full of trepidation reigned. Henry paced back and forth restlessly, like a lion caged in an ancient amphitheater. He paid no attention to the room’s grandeur and its elaborately carved oak furniture, decorated with figures of Jupiter, the supreme God of the Roman pantheon. On the walls there were tapestries portraying the life of Gaius Julius Caesar. At his feet, a costly carpet of cloth woven with gold threads took the brunt of his relentless march back and forth across the room.
Finally, Henry stopped near the marble fireplace and peered at his chief minister. In a voice layered with impatience, he barked, “Cromwell, why are you here?”
His guest heaved a sigh. “I beg Your Majesty’s pardon, but we have a grave problem.”
The ruler growled, “The only problem I know of is about to be removed from this earth. The Tower is where you must be ensuring that this is so!”
The advisor was immensely skilled at masking his emotions. However, the unforeseen turn of events had unnerved him a great deal, making it rather difficult to keep an inscrutable demeanor. “Sire, you have always been clever and shrewd; your guess is correct.”
“What is it?” demanded the monarch.
“Lady Anne Boleyn is with child,” proclaimed Cromwell.
“What?” rasped a nonplussed Henry, his eyes venomous caverns.
At Cromwell’s nod, the king’s previously cool façade cracked wide open. Henry blanched as a lethal mixture shock, bewilderment, anger, pain, and disappointment passed through him.
Questions circled the monarch’s mind like vultures preying upon him. How could Anne carry a child, and who was its father? Was it a dark irony of fate or the Lord’s blessing? Why was it happening now, when he was so close to getting his freedom? Was heaven laughing at him?
Anne Boleyn played with me like a cheap toy. She made me fall for her to ensure her family’s enrichment and elevation. What a fool I was to believe that whore! She wanted only the crown for herself and power for the Boleyns! Such were Henry’s scornful thoughts of the woman whom he had once worshipped. She must have been taught by her vile father and her brother how to set herself in his way and to ensnare him. They had calculated every step of their ascent to power.
When an enamored Henry had offered her to be his mistress, Anne had sworn with soul-stirring fervor that she would give her maidenhood only to her husband. Whatever purity she had brought to their bed, Henry now believed it was sullied, and all of it pretense. Anne had never loved him! She must have feigned her virginity! All her fake amorous words were as poisonous as those siren songs that drew sailors to the rocks and certain doom. Her counterfeit sweetness had almost ruined him.
To make the harlot his queen, Henry had disposed of Catherine of Aragon, his first wife. He had declared his daughter, the Princess Mary Tudor, a bastard. Henry had torn the country apart because Pope Clement VII would not grant the annulment of his union with Catherine. His battles with Rome had led to the separation of the Church of England from the papal authority. Anne Boleyn was the driving force of almost everything that had occurred in the country in the past several years.
Henry regretted that he had fallen for Anne. He had married her, but it would have been better if he had never met her. Thanks to Anne, the King of England had been made the laughingstock of Europe, especially when she had birthed a girl – not the boy she had promised him. A daughter was useless: only a son could guarantee the smooth succession and the continuation of the Tudor dynasty. Just as unforgivably, Anne had lost a male child at the start of the year and had blamed him.
Anne had seen him with Jane Seymour sitting on his knee, and miscarried due to the distress. Henry’s love for Anne, which had once been the most ennobling expression of chivalric devotion, had evolved into a murderous hatred. Then his chief minister and the Duke of Suffolk had reported to him that Anne had entertained men in her rooms. The investigation had revealed that she had cuckolded him with at least five courtiers and committed another the most abominable crime – incest.
In a voice as sharp as a million of swords, the king snarled, “I crave to spill the whore’s blood. Her sins are irredeemable.” He slid his wrathful glare to Cromwell. “I want Anne Boleyn dead.”
“Your Majesty, under the laws of England, we cannot send a pregnant woman to the block.” Cromwell did need Anne gone. He was a man of action and never admitted any hesitation in carrying out the royal commands; but he could not allow a child of royal blood to die.
After a brief pause, Henry spoke in a more controlled voice edged with a trace of clear distrust. “Anne has always been a good actress. Are you sure she is with child?”
Cromwell bobbed his head. “Yes, I am. The physician and the midwife both confirmed her condition. We will have to wait until the birth of her baby. Only then can she be punished.”
The ruler flinched at the sudden remembrance of the several nights he had spent with Anne in March despite Lent, but he thrust these thoughts aside. Anne could not be expecting his child! Her bastard was of no importance to him. Most definitely, he would have a brood of legitimate, healthy children with his beloved Jane, who was so lovely and very obedient – an ideal wife for him.
The king’s face screwed up in disgust. “This baby could be the product of incest.”
“It could have been fathered by any of her lovers.”
Cromwell had inflamed his anger, and Henry roared, “Anne is the worst whore ever! She lured me into marriage by means of sorcery! Is this child not the result of witchcraft?”
After more pacing back and forth, Henry finally threw himself into a chair. Cromwell stood quietly, smiling inwardly, pleased that his careful scheming had come to fruition.
The hands of Chronos, the Greek God of time, were pulling the monarch to a point where his life would be changed forever. The Almighty had taken the matter of Anne’s death out of his hands, and he could not kill her today, despite his antagonism towards her. As his gaze flicked to a nearby tapestry depicting Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, he made a fateful choice.
The monarch sighed with aggravation. “As I’m unfortunately bound by law, I must allow the Boleyn harlot to live until her bastard’s birth.” A rueful laughter boomed out of him. “I feel as if I were Caesar entering Italy under arms. His close friend, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, betrayed him just as Anne betrayed me. However, Caesar’s victory in the civil war put him in an unrivaled position of power. When that whore dies in a few months, I shall prevail as well.”
His chief minister sought to reassure him. “Lady Anne’s death will be a new beginning for Your Majesty. Your life will be long and happy, unlike Caesar’s.”
“Of course. God has blessed me to rule England for many years.” Henry’s thoughts went to the keeper of his heart. “I’ll wed Lady Jane Seymour as planned.”
“It would be better to postpone the ceremony until Lady Anne’s death. Then nobody would ever doubt the legitimacy of any future children born to this new marriage.”
Henry saw the truth in these words. “Indeed, my sons must be untainted.”
A golden future stretched before the King of England, a future without worry and troubles. A future with his dearest Jane and many male heirs. How fortunate Henry was that he and Jane had found each other, and soon they would forge a marriage of love and commitment. The rest of his reign would initiate a Golden Age of peace and prosperity for the Tudor dynasty and England, one that would be better than the Pax Romana of the first Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
In the omnipresent silence that followed, the castle clock chimed a soft melody, marking the time. The course of Europe’s history had just been altered irrevocably for all time. Yet, was it to Henry’s benefit or not? A strong sense of premonition stole over the Tudor monarch, coiling around the edifice of his dreams like the eerie fog that frequently enveloped Whitehall.
Lucy Churchill’s astonishing reconstruction of The Moost Happi portrait medal is one of my most treasured possessions. It’s unquestionably the most true-to-life image of Anne Boleyn that we have, which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that it’s December’s #TalkingTudors patron prize! In addition to the plaque, the lucky winner will also receive two portrait medal magnets, one bronze and one brass. Both the plaques and medal magnets are individually hand-cast in England and are simply exquisite. If you love the podcast and have been considering supporting the work I do, then this is the perfect time to join!
All patrons will be included in the draw. I look forward to welcoming you to the patron family!*A HUGE thank you to Lucy Churchill for sponsoring this incredible prize!
In addition to the plaque, the lucky winner will also receive two portrait medal magnets. These are individually hand-cast in England & are simply exquisite. If you love the podcast and have been considering supporting the work I do, then this is the perfect time to join!
All Talking Tudors patrons will be included in the draw. Sign up before 31 December to be entered with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, generously sponsored by the brilliant Lucy Churchill @lucystonecarver.
I look forward to welcoming you to the patron family!
Kathryn Holeman is back with her 2020 edition of the Ultimate Tudor Christmas Package! Maybe it’s the year or her product line but this gift box is so full that she could barely fit all of the items into one photo. This limited edition package includes $175 worth of Tudor treasures for only $100 USD. It’s gift wrapped with care using Kathryn’s illustrated Tudor pattern paper and ships for free within the United States. She also offers low international flat rate shipping.
The 2020 Ultimate Tudor Christmas Package includes:
• 1 limited edition Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I ornament.
• 1 Tudor mug (choose from 3)
• 1 copy of Colouring History: Tudor Queens and Consorts with a set of 12 color pencils
• 1 Tudor 285-piece puzzle
• 2 Tudor Queen bookmarks
• 2 Tudor notepads with illustrations based on a book of hours once owned by Anne Boleyn
• 1 Tudors coaster set (6 in a set)
• 2 notecards: Winter at Hampton Court and Autumn at Hever Castle
• A beautifully gift-wrapped box including all items. Gift wrap will be as shown with Tudor wrap and red ribbon. The two notecards will be packed in the same box but separate from the wrapped gift package.
Value of $175 for $100 with USPS Priority 3-day shipping included. International flat rate of $15 shipping.
Plan ahead! This package is prepared by hand for each order. See the estimated shipping times below.
Int’l orders: Please allow 3-4 weeks for arrival. The last day to order this package for guaranteed December 24th arrival is Wednesday, November 25thth. Contact Kathryn directly through Etsy if you would like to upgrade to Priority International Mail if you end up ordering after this date.
Suzannah Lipscomb exclaims, “What a fun and beautiful gift for Anne Boleyn fans! But what is unexpectedly joyful about it is how elegantly and intelligently the commentaries are written, how scholarly the research that underpins them, and what empathy and imagination they show. This can be given to any true history lover, knowing that their hands, hearts, and minds will be fully engaged.”
The incentive for writing the Queen Anne Boleyn Paper Doll Book was born from a deep desire to lend agency to a woman who lived nearly 500 years ago: Anne Boleyn. What the creator Rebecca Monet eventually discovered in research was both maddening and fascinating.
In fact, when shelooked up the timeline of Anne Boleyn’s life, the primary source did not include the apparently little known of — yet highly formative — years Anne spent away from England on “the continent.” Yet, it was there — at both the “Low Countries” and in France — where Anne was “finished,” and eventually became not only the vibrant and intelligent young lady-in-waiting who entered Henry VIII’s court, but the woman who is still capable of captivating us today. I wanted to write and illustrate a book which — quite literally — gave a full picture of Anne. She was not the most beautiful woman at court, but her mind, spirit and elegance combined to form an impervious force — something entirely untouchable and enigmatic. I find that utterly fascinating.
Rebecca is a writer and illustrator who grew up in the state of Maryland in the U.S. She received a BFA in illustration, cum laude, from Georgia State University. She successfully created custom murals in private homes in Atlanta, Georgia for nearly twenty years; after which, she has spent the last fifteen years as a mother and writer. Because of it’s similar sound to her surname, her mural clients used to jokingly call her “Rebecca Monet”. It wasn’t until her last year of painting murals when her father discovered, through a genealogy-fascinated cousin, her clients were not off the mark. She has since adopted “Rebecca Monet” as her pen name. A perennial student at heart, she loves history, flamenco and going really fast on carting tracks.
“I think Anne would have especially loved the latter and I enjoy the thought of seeing her, French hood flying, as she beats everyone else to the finish line” ~ RM
As I work on my upcoming fiction series which is a modern day retelling of the love story of Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, with a touch of magic, I want to get insight into Henry before he became the monster who executed his own great love. While researching, I’ve found numerous websites detailing ‘Henry’s First Letter’ yet they were all different missives. I’ve reached out for more clarification. As of this writing one Tudor expert has responded and says the order of the letters is debated. So, I’ll start with the first letter which I found in a book that is based on the letters as released in a volume which was published by Oxford in the 1700s.
If anyone can offer insight as to the chronological release of these tomes, that would be greatly appreciated. Meanwhile, enjoy Letter 1.
Look for my first story The Beckoning, to be released in 2021.
On turning over in my mind the contents of your last letters, I have put myself into great agony, not knowing how to interpret them, whether to my disadvantage, as you show in some places, or to my advantage, as I understand them in some others, beseeching you earnestly to let me know expressly your whole mind as to the love between us two. It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection, which last point has prevented me for some time past from calling you my mistress; because, if you only love me with an ordinary love, that name is not suitable for you, because it denotes a singular love, which is far from common. But if you please to do the office of a true loyal mistress and friend, and to give up yourself body and heart to me, who will be, and have been, your most loyal servant, (if your rigour does not forbid me) I promise you that not only the name shall be given you, but also that I will take you for my only mistress, casting off all others besides you out of my thoughts and affections, and serve you only. I beseech you to give an entire answer to this my rude letter, that I may know on what and how far I may depend. And if it does not please you to answer me in writing, appoint some place where I may have it by word of mouth, and I will go thither with all my heart. No more, for fear of tiring you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain yours,