Alice’s Restaurant

August 28, 2007

Tudor Follies: the End of Henry

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al — aliceaudrey @ 12:33 am

Just when we thought Katherine was bound for execution, she stop screaming and got smart.  Lets see if Wriothesley faired as well.  Take it away, Mr. Al.                                                                   ****Henry, Katherine and assorted hangers-on were gambolling in the royal gardens when Wriothesley showed up with forty Tower guards in tow. Most likely Katherine and the ladies were gambolling. Henry’s gambolling days were a very distant memory by then. Henry took the Lord Chancellor aside and read him the riot act. Trick me into believing my loving wife was a heretic, eh? Bamboozle me into burning my Queen at the stake, huh? You never did like her; you and Gardiner. Get the hell out of my garden and take these goons with you or I’ll give ’em a new set of orders!

Wriothesley dropped to his knees and begged Henry’s forgiveness. Fat chance! Lord Chancellor Wriothesley scurried away with his tail between his legs. Katherine was the picture of innocent astonishment when Henry returned. “Golly Snookems, what was THAT all about? How come the Lord Chancellor had all those Tower guys with him?” As angry as Henry was, the warrant DID have his signature on it. Tricked or not, it was kinda hard to explain. Henry decided the best explanation was none at all. He said nothing about the warrant. He told her it was all a misunderstanding. It was a guy thing and as the Head Guy, he’d deal with it. Katherine and the ladies could go back to gambolling. Which they did with joyous hearts.

In the end, no action was taken by Henry against either Wriothesley or Gardiner. And these gentlemen never bothered the Queen again either. More importantly, the Queen never argued with Henry again. Her ladies were forbidden to own, disseminate, acknowledge, discuss or even whisper about ANYTHING even vaguely heretical. Upon pain of instant dismissal. Everyone conformed, with a capital “C” to Henry’s church. She was still a closet Lutheran, of course. But she was so far back in the closet that no one would openly suspect her. Till the day Henry died, she was the Dutiful Wife Extraordinaire.

As the summer of 1546 moved into autumn, Henry’s health began to seriously deteriorate. Between the pustular ulcer on his leg and his great weight, Henry couldn’t move without the use of a specially designed chair with a built in crane, Henry knew he was dying. He wasn’t afraid to face it. He made out a detailed will and set up Edward’s Regency Council. Henry had always been a realist when it came to politics. He saw how England was changing, how it was moving in an undeniably Protestant direction. The Protestants would change his church, but the Catholics would destroy it utterly. Accordingly, he appointed men to the Council who held Protestant sympathies. He also took care to appoint Protestant tutors for Edward.

Wriothesley and Gardiner were appointed. Henry knew them well enough to know what they wanted above all else was power. They would amend their religious beliefs once they realized they might loose their jobs if they didn’t. This would also protect Katherine. Henry knew what she really believed, even though everyone had to pretend otherwise. In as much as Henry was capable of loving anyone, he seemed to have truly loved Katherine. For her part, Henry’s approaching demise genuinely upset Katherine.

He left Katherine something to remember him by. Jewels, plate and household goods for the rest of her life. He also left her his entire wardrobe. While this might seem odd to the modern reader, it should be remembered that fancy clothing in those days often had jewels sewn into them. They also had much embroidery work with gold and silver thread. The satin and silk fabrics were worth a considerable sum by themselves. She also received 1,000 pounds cash, the return of her dowry and whatever properties Parliament saw fit to bestow upon her. They were very generous.

Henry had done about all he could do to be prepared. The fact that the Regency Council would ignore some of Henry’s wishes before his body was cold should not be surprising. With Wriothesley and Gardiner on the Council, Katherine was  banished from the court. She received her due, but they did not want her around Edward. They didn’t seem to care if Mary and Elizabeth hung out with her. They should have.

Eventually Elizabeth would enter Katherine’s household. She was thirteen. Elizabeth and Katherine would both live to regret this, but Katherine’s new hubby, Lord High Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour, would not. It is still a matter of debate how much Sir Thomas’s “attentions” toward Elizabeth affected her as concerns men and marriage; But that’s another story altogether. Suffice it to say that the Tudor follies continued. Edward was king and the Protestant reformation, begun in secret, was now moving into the open. Unfortunately for the Protestant cause, Edward would not be long on the throne.

With his death, his half-sister Mary would become Supreme Monarch. Mary moved with an implacable will to restore the Catholic Church. It would be a very dark period in England’s history. Much else in Henry’s will was ignored by the Council in the power struggle that followed his death. They fought over who would have the most access to nine year old Edward. More importantly, they fought over who would give orders in the King’s name. It became an unholy mess.

One thing was clear however; the people of London were grief stricken at Henry’s passing. As displeased as they were with Henry from time to time, they loved him all the same. Henry was a Londoner, one of them. He spent much of his time there and was proud to call it his city. When Henry died, quietly and in bed, on January 28, 1547, the city was plunged into mourning. It most certainly was not the end of the Tudor follies, but it was the end of the man. And with his passing, the end of an age.

                               Le Roi Est Mort! Vive Le Roi! 

                                                            ****

And thus ends Mr. Al’s take on the wives of Henry the Eighth.

Mr. Al assures me he will be ready to start up his take on the Georges very soon.  I’d like to start them in September, but that’s only a few days away.  If I can, I’ll be posting them in Wednesdays.

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