We’re back for another installment of Mr. Al’s take on Henry the VIII. Warning, there is some rough language in this one.
One of the things I love about history are those moments when I put down a history book and exclaim, “What the hell was he thinking? How could he be that stupid?” Katherine’s story takes just such a turn. Soon after his conversation with Henry, Gardiner ordered the arrest of three of Katherine’s most important ladies-in-waiting; Lady Tyrwhitte, Lady Lane and Katherine’s sister, Lady Herbert. No rough stuff, but they were taken to the Tower for questioning. While there, their rooms were searched for banned reading materials.
The ladies were asked about their conversations with the Queen. Discuss religion much? How about that Martin Luther guy? Anything nice to say about him? Apparently nothing was found because the ladies were released without being charged with anything. Before all this happened Katherine knew she had to be careful. If she suspected that she had enemies in her husband’s court before, she knew it for a fact now. The arrest of her ladies-in waiting should have been a red flag the size of a mainsail to her.
Bishop Gardiner’s signature was on the arrest warrants. Katherine should have known that Gardiner didn’t have the juice to pull a stunt like that on his own dime. Henry would never have allowed it! Unless… So what did this very intelligent, common senseical woman do? She continued her theological debates with Henry. What in God’s name was she thinking? She KNEW they were looking for closet Protestants. She KNEW they suspected her. She should have known that Henry was supporting the investigation. Katherine Parr was a snow white bunny rabbit in the middle of a very large, very empty field and the sky overhead was filled with hungry hawks. And she continued to debate religion with Henry.
Henry listened very carefully to his wife’s arguments. He noted anything that might be suspicious. She prattled on and he listened. She prattled some more and he listened. Then, one day, he decided he had heard enough. He had a warrant for her arrest drawn up. The charge? Heresy. Which meant that she would be burned at the stake rather than beheaded. That Henry! He sure knew how to put on a show!
With the warrant before him, Henry signed it and handed it over to a trusted member of his Privy Council. This fellow was told to keep it under wraps until it was called for. No one was to know about it. This fellow was told to guard the document with his life. This fellow swore mighty oaths and promised to do as the king wished. No doubt fantasizing about the rich rewards that would come his way for being so loyal, this unnamed person allowed himself to become distracted enough to lose the warrant. He dropped it in a hallway where it was promptly found by one of the Queens servants.
Apparently this servant didn’t stop to consider the price she might pay for her loyalty to Katherine, because she took it strait to the Queen. Whatever illusions Katherine harbored regarding Henry’s tolerance of her unorthodox views went right out the window, along with her composure, upon reading the warrant. Henry was going to burn her at the stake as a heretic! She was way too smart to think she stood a snowball’s chance in hell of being found innocent. When Henry Tudor had a wife arrested, there was only one outcome.
How could she have misjudged him so badly? There was only one thing to be done, talk to Henry. But first, she’d take a moment or so to collapse on her bed, a screaming, hysterical mass of quivering royal jelly. Katherine lost it completely. So loud were her lamentations that Henry could hear them in his private rooms. Having no idea what was wrong, he sent his personal doctors to check it out.
One of them, Doctor Wendy, was the only other person, aside from the Privy Councilor, that Henry had confided in regarding the warrant. Some how or another, the good doctor figured out what was troubling Katherine. Without tipping off his colleague, Wendy sent him and everyone else out of the room so he could have a heart to heart with the Queen. She told him about the warrant. Oh dear. What was she going to do? The good doctor was completely on Katherine’s side. First and foremost, she had to pull herself together! They only had minutes to come up with a plan so she had to stop freaking out NOW!
This kind of behavior really brings home the realization that kings and queens are only people too. Good thing you’ve got another blog planned, Mr. Al. No way I’d let you quit here.