Alice’s Restaurant

July 3, 2007

Tudor Follies: A Queen Besieged

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:15 am

Mr. Al left us wondering how Cranmer would wring confessions from Queen Katherine (The Howard Katherine, not that earlier one).  Today he lets us know.
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He couldn’t touch the Queen, of course. But he could try to trick an incriminating statement out of her. She was Queen, but she was also an emotionally distraught teenage girl. It was worth a try. In the meantime, he could turn the pros in the Tower lose on Dereham and Culpeper. His first meeting with her didn’t go so well. For either of them. Katherine was so hysterical that Cranmer couldn’t get a coherent sentence out of her. He decided to try again later. He also decided that the adversarial approach would be counter- productive. Instead, he would be her friend, someone with her best interests at heart.

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The new warm and cuddly Archbishop of Canterbury returned the next day. He had a letter from someone important! Would she like to read it? Oh… nevermind. He’d be happy to read it to her. It was from Henry! His Majesty was willing to forgive all if only she would fess up to every stupid, nasty, slutty thing she had ever done. Willingly or unwillingly. My, my. It certainly takes a big fellow to make that kind of offer. There now, didn’t her Majesty feel better? All that she had to do MAKE things better was to sign some unimportant papers the contents of which she needn’t worry her pretty little head about.

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Katherine didn’t buy it.

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She did give Cranmer the impression that a pre- contract existed between her and Dereham. There was nothing on paper; in fact, most of the reality of this pre-contract seemed to exist in Dereham’s head. It seems that he enjoyed going about calling Katherine his wife while she was with the Duchess. Dereham certainly expected her to act like a wife in at least one respect. When she was questioned about this Katherine stated that Dereham had raped her. That she never willingly submitted to him. She was probably telling the truth. A number of people in Katherine’s royal household were convinced that Dereham had blackmailed his way back into Katherine’s life.

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Cranmer had no use for this information. He wanted evidence that Katherine and Dereham were still having sex. At the very least, that a pre-contract existed. Then the marriage could be annulled. Katherine back-peddled and said no such thing existed. Not ever. She didn’t realize that the existence of a pre-contract would nullify any charge of adultery. You can’t commit adultery if both parties are unmarried. She believed admitting to a pre-contract would make things worse.

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Productive conversation between Cranmer and Katherine came to a screeching halt when Katherine found out that almost every guy she was suspected of sleeping with, since marrying Henry, was a guest in the Tower. Her emotional state was such the Cranmer thought she was losing her mind. Cranmer wrote up what he had to date in the form of a confession. Before Dereham there had been a music teacher named Manox. That started when Katherine was ten or eleven and lasted until he was fired by the Duchess. Dereham picked up where Manox left off until Katherine entered Queen Anne’s household and Dereham set sail to be a Celtic Jack Sparrow. There was nothing about Culpeper, A handsome courtier who’s only crime seems to have been being attracted to the Queen in a way that got people’s attention.

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No matter. Cranmer believed he had enough. No, she did not confess to adultery, but he had enough to prove a case of pre-contract, the evidence just needed a little tweaking here and there. That would annul the marriage and he could sweep the court clean of the Howard clan. And Henry wouldn’t have to chop Katherine’s head off! Pheew! Time for everyone to put this sordid business behind them and move on.

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Henry was pleased that his little Katherine hadn’t cheated on him. Cranmer assured him that he could prove a pre-contract. Marriage annulled. End of story. Henry returned to Hampton Court in high spirits. When Cranmer got there the place was buzzing like a beehive on a hot July afternoon. Rumors were flying. Henry would divorce Katherine and take back Anne. He was going to chop Katherine’s head off and take back Anne. That all was forgiven and he would continue with Katherine. There was another woman and Henry would kill that poor girl so he could have his way with yet another.

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Cranmer knew Henry well enough to realize that he might very well take Katherine back if she was allowed to talk to him. The second half of the Henry Marriage Drill went into effect. Katherine was sent to a place in the country until the matter was settled. Cranmer also realized that as long as Katherine was alive there would always be a danger that the two of them would kiss and make up. Henry had to be rid of Katherine beyond all hope of reconciliation. Cranmer was still at Hampton Court when he discovered that Henry’s mind and his were as one on the subject.

****

Poor Katherine.  I really feel for her.
Alice

June 26, 2007

Tudor Follies: The Sad Tale of Katherine Howard

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:58 am

It’s Tudor Tuesday and Mr. Al is back with his short and pithy take on history.  Put down your cereal bowls. We’re going to skirt the edges of “eww” with this one.
***
Of the six wives of Henry the VIII, Katherine Howard was probably the least prepared for what lay ahead. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her mother died when she was a toddler. Her father remarried, but her stepmother had little to do with her upbringing. She was sent to live in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. That woman more or less ignored Katherine from day one. Her education was spotty, at best. By today’s standards Katherine was functionally illiterate. If only the neglect had stopped there.
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Basically, Katherine ran wild with damned little adult supervision growing up. This was something that would be brought up at her trial. The Duchess tried very hard to hide her gross incompetence as a foster parent. If her detractors are to be believed Katherine began having sex when she was ten or eleven; A bit early, even in an age when many girls were married at twelve. It seemed to be the story of Katherine’s short life to be used by adults for their own ends. It was certainly the intention of her uncle and the Duchess that she do everything in her power to attract Henry. She was considered pretty by many, of medium height with auburn hair and gray eyes. Beyond the fact that her early life was unsupervised, little is known about Katherine as a girl.
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She and Henry were married at the Oatlands, one of Henry’s palaces. The date was July 28, 1540. By odd coincidence, it was the same day as Cromwell’s execution. Henry had decided to demonstrate his merciful side by having Cromwell’s sentence commuted to “simple decapitation.” The London crowds must have been keenly disappointed. It was probably some consolation to them that the executioner bungled the first strike and had to try again to get the head to come off. What the hell, at least they weren’t charged admission.

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Henry and Katherine hadn’t even left for their honeymoon before Katherine’s enemies began looking for ways to bring her down. They weren’t really Katherine’s enemies; these people didn’t give a tinker’s cuss about Katherine. The Duke of Norfolk was the target. Having Katherine killed was just a formality. As they dug up the dirt on Katherine’s sordid past, a problem arose. All this stuff was useless unless they could prove that Katherine was still having it off with whomever. Pre-marital sex wasn’t against the law. It certainly didn’t make her look good, but it wasn’t a death sentence.

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The man who made it his mission to bring Katherine down was Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer. He was against what Katherine represented; The Catholic faction. To have this faction in the ascendancy was unacceptable. These people were against everything Cranmer had worked so hard for. Henry’s church was too new to allow this group even a toehold in Henry’s court.

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Consequently, Cranmer went to work on gathering evidence that Katherine was still having it off with other men. A job made both easier and harder by Katherine herself. Easier because she made one of her alleged ex-lovers a member of her household. Harder because the only evidence against her came from servants who never saw anything directly. Even under intense questioning, the best these servants could give Cranmer were stories about Katherine spending a few hours with this or that fellow late at night, but never alone. The lady Rochford, of the Queen’s Privy Chamber, was always present. And these gents never stayed the whole night.
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If no one was willing to tell Cranmer what he wanted to hear through routine questioning, perhaps a little persuasion was in order. It looked like some people needed a trip to the Tower to loosen their tongues. Two fellows in particular, Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper were prime suspects. Both had known Katherine before Henry and Dereham had made statements in public that he and Katherine would one day be married.
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There were plenty of stories about the two of them while Katherine was still under the Duchess of Norfolk’s roof. And Dereham was the guy Katherine made her private secretary. Not a smart move on her part, particularly since he had no obvious qualifications for the job. The last time Katherine had seen him, before she took up her post as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, Dereham had announced he was going to Ireland to become a pirate! Witnesses testified that Katherine was visibly relived to see him go.
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“See ya later, Francis! Yo ho ho and a bottle of Jamison’s! You go Francis! Live the dream! That’s it, keep going, have fun, do forget to write, see ya.” (I made up that last bit.)
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Katherine expressed the hope that she would never see him again.
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Even though he had not collected solid evidence of adultery, Cranmer felt that he should let Henry in on his suspicions. He was confident that he could prove Katherine’s promiscuous past. That should be enough to get the green light for a full-scale investigation. Poor Henry. By all accounts he really was in love with Katherine. Cranmer’s information was a profound shock to him. Unlike Cromwell, Cranmer was not born to this sort of thing. He was a theologian, not a secret policeman. His concern was for the church. Henry gave him a bad scare by telling him what would happen to him if he didn’t have his facts strait.
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After he calmed down, Henry told Cranmer to do whatever he had to do to get to the bottom of this mess. Like Anne Boleyen before her, Katharine was confined to quarters until the matter was settled. This gave her a very bad turn. The fine points of the law were totally beyond her. That Henry even suspected her of adultery was enough to convince her that her fate was sealed.
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Did she have a guilty conscience? Not about her behavior after her marriage. There never was any evidence that she had committed adultery. That Dereham and Culpeper wanted to sleep with her after she became Queen, there was evidence.  That Katherine had firmly rebuffed them, there was evidence. Cranmer ran with the former and ignored the latter. Lacking solid evidence, Cranmer did what any unscrupulous 16th century prosecutor would do. He would wring, in the worst sense of the word, confessions out of the suspects.

***

Thank you Mr. Al.  Now I want to know what happened to Cranmer.  Not what happens because of him.  What happens to him.  Does he get his?

Alice
 

June 19, 2007

Tudor Follies: Anne of Cleves and the Royal Willie

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:39 am

Those of us who are not well versed in history are no-doubt very concerned about Anne of Cleves’ future.  Being an unwanted bride to Henry VIII could get you killed.  And Cromwell?  Better set aside your breakfast, Anastasia.

And now for History according to Mr. Al.
***

They had the same uncle. The gruff, lovable old Duke of Norfolk. He who had gone so far out of his way to make sure that his niece, Anne Boleyn, was slaughtered like a sheep. Getting on Henry’s extremely profitable good side worked with Anne…for a while. Why shouldn’t it work with Katherine? Not only was she younger and much prettier than Anne, she was a few bricks shy of a load! She would do anything she was told to do! She didn’t have Anne’s dynamic personality, but she didn’t need it. Katherine was fourteen or fifteen, Henry was forty-nine. The perfect age difference.

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Henry wasn’t the only older guy to notice Katherine. By the time she caught Henry’s eye she had already had plenty of experience with other men. She would have reason to regret this. There is evidence that she already did. For now, the Katherine/Henry train was moving in the right direction. But what to do about Anne? Everyone involved was worried to distraction about the mess that would result from yet another royal divorce. They had reason to worry. As with Katherine of Aragon, putting Anne aside the wrong way could start a war. Accuse her of adultery? She was too well known now. No one would believe it and Henry would look really bad accusing her of such a thing. Henry was not public opinion proof.

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What to do, what to do, what to do? Unfortunately for Anne, Henry was doing what Henry did best. Blaming her for the fact that he wasn’t attracted to her. Given Henry’s deadly reputation, Anne was getting stressed. She tried avoiding him, which cheesed him off even more. As if HE were the problem! While he was unhappy with Anne, Henry was saving his righteous indignation for someone else.

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On June 10th 1540, Cromwell was arrested in the Council chamber by, who else, the Duke of Norfolk. Not wasting a moment, Henry had him chucked into a barge and taken to the Tower. That same day a Bill of Attainder against Cromwell was drawn up. The charges were treason and heresy. Charges Cromwell himself had used many times in the past against Henry’s enemies. More irony.

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On the 19th the Bill passed the upper house and was sent down to the Commons. While all this was going on, Henry’s plans for annulment were moving full steam ahead. On the 24th Henry sent Anne to Richmond Palace, claiming that plague had broken out in London and he wanted her safe. He would join her in a few days. He didn’t, of course. This put Anne in very bad frame of mind. She had no idea how things stood between her and her husband, no one was telling her and she didn’t even know how the whole thing had started. She had an ugly suspicion how it might end.
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With Anne out of town Henry decided to play the footloose bachelor. Since the fastest, and safest, way through 16TH century London was by boat, everyone who was anyone wanted a palace by the river. This allowed anyone and everyone, including nobodies loafing on the wharves, to view the comings and goings of all and sundry. Including the king. It was soon the talk of London that Henry was visiting Katherine Howard. Nearly every bloody night! He even visited her in broad daylight! If anyone was going to be accused of adultery…

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Members of Katherine’s family were telling her to take a page from her cousin’s playbook. Keep him at arm’s length. Make him WANT it. Don’t give in till you’ve got the ring on your finger. They thought she was still a virgin. There was no point in spoiling Henry’s illusion. Katherine heeded her family’s advice. She did as she was told. This not only enflamed Henry’s passion, it roused him to swift action against Cromwell and the annulment of his marriage.

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By the end of June Anne was still at Richmond and Henry had yet to join her. She was getting seriously frightened. Her ladies were old court hands and knew the signs. All the signs were bad. Anne knew she was totally at Henry’s mercy. That Henry not only didn’t love her, but seemed to hate her. What had she ever done to deserve this? All she could do was wait and hope for the best. For Cromwell, however, the waiting was over.

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On June 29th the Bill of Attainder against Cromwell passed through the Commons. He was a dead man. Worse than that, he was informed that he would suffer the FULL penalty for treason. Ouchie!!! He begged Henry for mercy. “Forgeddaboutit!” Came the reply. In early July Anne began to hear stories about what was happening in London. More bad news. Anne’s chamberlain, the Earl of Rutland, was ordered by Henry to reassure Anne that all was well; That Henry would never do ANYTHING mean or nasty or violent like drag her off to the Tower and chop her head off. He had only done that to one wife…so far. And everyone agreed with Henry that that wife had probably deserved it. Anne was not reassured.

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On July 7th Henry wrote out a declaration that the clergy should look into his marriage. He claimed he had no ulterior motives for seeking an annulment. That he had been lied to about Anne’s beauty, although her virtue was everything a good husband could wish for in a wife. Then there was the business of the pre-marriage agreement. Merciful Heavens! Worrying about that was keeping him up nights.

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As if that were not enough, Henry claimed that he had, quote, “Lack enough of the will and the power” to consummate his marriage. His doctors were happy to confirm that they had urged Henry “not to enforce himself.” God forbid he should damage the Royal Willie before he produced more princes. On July 9th the convocations of York and Canterbury found the marriage of Anne and Henry Null and Void.

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That same day a deputation rode out to Richmond to inform Anne. She was told that, henceforth, she should refer to herself as His Majesties Honorary Sister. No hard feelings. No Tower or chopping block either. Oh… One last thing… She was informed that His Majesty wished her to have 4,000 pounds per annum, the manor houses of Bletchingly and Richmond and… Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s old house. The titles to these places were to be in her name, any rents or profits from these properties were hers to keep. But only if she stayed in England. Should she return to Cleves, where she was not allowed to own property, where she would be under the total control of her brother and would be lucky to claim the clothes on her back as her own, all these properties would revert to the Crown.

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For reasons inexplicable, she decided to stay in England. She liked England! She loved England! She wrote letters to her brother, King Francis and Charles attesting to this fact. Francis and Charles approved of the annulment. I wonder why. Anne declared to the Lords that Henry’s will was her command. Did he want her to sign anything? You betcha! Make declarations? Okey-dokey! Take oaths? No problem! Anne of Cleves was also free to marry whomever she wished. Under the law at that time, all her property would have become her husbands. She stayed single. And… As the king’s sister, she took precedence over all the other women at court, bar the Queen. Speaking of which…

***

Thank you Mr. Al.  It’s nice to see someone escape Henry’s clutches.

Alice

June 12, 2007

The Tudor Follies: How Ugly Was She?

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:21 am

Fresh from the keyboard of Mr. Al, here is the latest installment of the love life of Henry the VIII.

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Henry found Anne so unpleasant that he couldn’t do his royal duty with her. No royal duty, no babies. No babies, no point to being married. But what to do? Sending Anne back to Germany would probably spark a war that England couldn’t hope to win. Keeping a wife he found so repulsive that he couldn’t stomach having sex with her was equally unacceptable. What to do? Henry didn’t know. But he did know the guy who got him into this mess and that guy had better get him out of it or he’d nail his hide to the outhouse door!

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It’s hard to muster much sympathy for a guy like Cromwell. He wasn’t as greedy as Wolsey, but then Wolsey didn’t build a career by killing people Henry didn’t like. Six innocent people died in the Anne Boleyn business alone. They were not the first, nor the last. But, like Wolsey before him, Cromwell staked all on finding Henry the wife of his dreams. Too bad for Cromwell that he let other matters cloud his judgment. Stuff like King Francis and the Emperor; Possible civil unrest, the Catholic factions, the Lutheran factions. He thought he could get away with ignoring Henry’s desire for a good looking, buxom wife. Nope.
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When Henry finally cornered Cromwell and explained the facts to him, Cromwell was shaken. Shaken because he knew he was trapped like a rat. Deceiving Henry about Anne’s looks had been Cromwell’s project from start to finish. He tried to shift the blame onto just about anyone but himself, to no avail. Plenty of people had told Henry that Anne was a saucy number, but when Henry leaned on them, all fingers pointed to Cromwell. “He ordered us to lie to you, your Highness! He threatened us!” Henry believed them. Why not, they were telling the truth.

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Henry was doing a not so slow burn on this Anne business and Cromwell’s enemies were making sure the fire wouldn’t go out. Not that they had anything against Anne, she offended no one. But her demotion meant Cromwell’s destruction. While Cromwell worked feverishly to find a solution, the Catholic faction came up with one. A secret weapon that would guarantee that Henry would put Anne aside, put Cromwell’s head on the block and God willing, put them in the King’s good graces. The secret weapon’s name was Katherine Howard.

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Poor Anne was not going to make it as Queen. But how to get rid of her? There had been talk of a pre-contract of marriage between Anne and the son of the Duke of Lorraine. It was just talk. No such document ever turned up. But the fact that it MIGHT exist bothered Henry’s tender conscience so much that he could not bear the thought of having sex with Anne. How could he when she had been promised to another?
When no evidence turned up it was obvious to Henry that the searchers weren’t looking in the right place. And Anne? It was news to her. No one likes to be insulted about their appearance. Henry did try to be nice. He didn’t say anything to her face; In public he was the perfect gentleman. Unlike his relationship with Anne Boleyn, the public had no idea there was a problem. Part of it may have been that they were not inclined to believe bad things about her.

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As un-worldly as she was, and she was VERY unworldly, she knew something was seriously wrong. No one had explained the facts of life to her before she married Henry. She had no experience whatsoever with sex or men. She had been told that after a man and woman married, the man “did” something that caused the woman to have a baby. Anne had no idea what that something was, but she was pretty darned certain that Henry hadn’t done it yet. Poor kid.
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To the consternation of the Catholic faction, Henry made Cromwell an Earl. The new Earl of Essex seemed more in favor than ever. They didn’t know Henry very well. Henry liked to elevate his enemies before striking them down. Cromwell was still trying to get Henry to accept Anne as a suitable wife. This wasn’t going down well with Henry at all. The fact that Henry couldn’t consummate his marriage with Anne wasn’t his fault. And he could prove it. He suggested to some gentlemen that if they bothered to talk to some of the serving girls he had cornered in the pantry, they’d be happy to confirm that his Majesty was still virile.

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Perhaps Henry had meant it, but it’s hard to imagine a more dangerous thing to do in Henry’s court than to talk to serving girls about wither or not the King could still get it up. There is no evidence that anyone took Henry up on his offer. As matters transpired, they didn’t need to ask serving girls. Henry had suddenly caught sight of Katherine. The Catholic faction was beside itself. Henry had taken the bait. I don’t know if 16th century folk had any use for irony. The post-modernists of today love to act as though they invented it. They probably called it “divine justice” back then. Either way, some people must have noted that the young girl the Catholic faction was pinning it’s hopes on was first cousin to the girl that, as the first Queen Anne, had nearly destroyed it.

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Wait a minute, Mr. Al.  Are you saying Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn were cousins?  What a small world Henry inhabited.  After you description of an execution from a few weeks back, I’m not sure I want to know what happened to Cromwell.  As to Anne of Cleves, what did he do?
Alice

June 5, 2007

The Tudor Follies: “Next!”

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:07 am

Mr. Al returns with the next segment from the life and times of Henry the VIII.  Next up, Anne of Cleves.

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 It was decided that a nice Protestant princess would fit the bill. A good looking one with large breasts if it could be managed. For the men around Henry, political and foreign relations were paramount. Especially from Cromwell’s perspective. Things weren’t looking good in Europe and England needed an ally to balance against any rapprochement that might spring up between King Francis and Charles. A princess from a German state would be good. Someone who would keep the Catholics looking over their shoulders. Would she be good looking and have big hooters? Cromwell didn’t care. He should have. Henry cared and Henry was the boy-o getting married. He was also, thanks to Cromwell, the king who had acquired a taste for judicial homicide.

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Bridehunters were sent forth to scour the duchies, landgreves, principalities, dukedoms, fiefdoms, bishoprics, boltholes and backwaters of the convoluted mess that would, in just a few short centuries, become modern Germany. These fellows finally settled on the Dukedom of Cleves. Where is/was Cleves? I’m not sure. It may have been near Flanders, unless it wasn’t. But the Duke of Cleves had a couple of unmarried daughters and a perpetual need for cash. And here comes Henry Tudor! A king who’s just rolling in it! An impoverished duke could do a heck of a lot worse for a son in law.

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Negotiations were started. The eldest daughter, Anne, seemed the best bet. Henry wanted to see the girl for himself. This idea was put aside as being too insulting. Henry sent a couple of trusted fellows to do some reconnaissance and report back on the, um…lay of the land, as it were. While this was going on, the duke had passed away and his eldest son was handling the matter. A very strict Protestant, this guy thought the whole idea of judging a woman by her appearance was, if not outright sinful, then in very poor taste. He wasn’t going to let his sister be subjected to THAT.

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 When Henry’s boys arrived for the interview, Anne was waiting for them. God alone knows what she was thinking because she wasn’t allowed to speak. And did she “stack” up? That question remained unanswered because she was wearing the sixteenth century German Protestant equivalent of a burka. All that could be made out was the color of her eyes. What were they going to tell Henry? Whatever the hell Cromwell told them to tell him! Cromwell wanted a treaty with a German Protestant state that would keep Francis and Charles off balance! He had international politics to worry about and Henry was after him about hooters and is she hot and when can I see her. Jeez!
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At one point Henry sent the court painter Hans Holbein to Cleves to paint Anne’s portrait. Not a big one or anything, a nice miniature. Just to give him some idea of what she looked like. A full frontal if he could manage it. From the chest up if it wasn’t too much trouble. The portrait still exists today. The woman in it certainly conveys a sense of what many people noticed about her when they met her. She had an air of peace and serenity about her. Of regal detachment. Of being above it all without being stuffy or aloof. She made a very positive first impression on most people she met. But then, of all the people she met, only one was going to marry her. People familiar with both Anne and the portrait agreed, Mister Holbein took rather a bit too much artistic license in making Anne look good. He couldn’t be blamed, he did what Cromwell ordered him to do.
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Henry didn’t blame Holbein. He was an artist; artists paint idealized portraits sometimes. He captured her inner beauty, Henry gave him that. The bitter truth of the matter was that Anne of Cleves was not, as far as Henry was concerned, even okay looking. Henry thought she was ugly. To add insult to injury, she wasn’t very bright. Anne had received very little formal education. Such things were unbecoming in a princess who’s main function in life was to be a baby factory to whomever her dad told her to marry.

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Henry very much enjoyed learned conversation and expected his wives to be able to keep up with him in that department. Anne spoke only German, had no interest in sports, gambling, hunting or anything else Henry loved. At one point Henry had admitted that sometimes a king had to marry someone who was less than perfect for the sake of the realm. Sometimes. But this wasn’t one of those times. There was one other problem with Anne.
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To quote Henry, “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse! She is nothing fair, and have very evil smells about her. I took her to be no maid by reason of the looseness of her breasts and other tokens, which, when I felt them, strake me to the heart, that I had neither will nor courage to prove the rest. I can have none appetite for displeasent airs. I have left her as good a maid as I found her.”
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He wrote this the morning after his wedding night.

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Geesh, what a love match.

Thank you Mr. Al.  You say this one doesn’t lose her head over Henry?  Do tell.

Alice

May 28, 2007

Tudors: The Rise and Fall of Jane Seymour

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 10:45 pm

Having seen the first two of Henry VIII’s wives bite the dust we are back for another guest blog with Mr. Al.  Let’s see how Jane fared.
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Apparently not one to shilly-shally, Queen-to-be Jane was busy with her wedding dress at the same time that Anne’s head was being chopped off. Some girls might, given the circumstances, have had reason to pause and consider what the future might hold. Some girls might. But not Jane. The marriage was announced to the Privy Council the same day that Anne died. Henry and Jane were married the next day at Hampton Court. Small ceremony, immediate family only, top secret, etc, etc. The Henry marriage drill. Jane then retreated to her family estate to prepare for the Official Wedding.
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Things had changed for Henry as a result of his relationships with Katherine and Anne. And not for the better. Already suspicious by nature, just like his paranoid dad, Henry became even more distrustful of those around him. No woman would ever again manipulate him to the extent that Anne did. Anne knew very well what buttons to push as regards Henry. What she lacked was the maturity or wisdom to know when to stop. As Henry’s disastrous marriage with Anne of Cleves would prove, handled the right way, Henry could be a pretty magnanimous guy. Handle Henry the wrong way, As Anne Boleyn discovered,  and he would stop at nothing to make someone else pay for his mistakes.
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Mrs. Henry Tudor the III had a couple of things going for her. One, she was as temperamentally different from Anne as night from day. Quiet, reserved, one is tempted to say docile. Although docile isn’t the right word to describe someone as ambitious as Jane. Jane was every bit as ambitious as Anne was and for the same reasons. To further the interests of her entire family. The other thing going for her was that, as a lady in Queen Anne’s service, she watched the entire Henry/Anne drama at close range.
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She was not going to make the same mistakes Anne made. Humble and submissive was just what the doctor ordered; Jane reasoned. She was right. After all, what would it profit her if she gained the whole world, but lost her head? Literally. Humble and submissive. No one, least of all Henry, could fault her for being a dutiful wife and a queen who discharged her royal duties without getting on her husbands nerves. Although Jane was a devout, conservative Catholic, Henry’s will was her law. If she did not support many of Henry’s changes in the church, and she did not, she had the good sense to keep her mouth shut.

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What kind of queen was Jane? Unfortunately, she didn’t live long enough to really leave her stamp on history. On October 12 1537, Jane gave birth to a boy, the future King Edward the VI. Twelve days later, she died of puerperal fever. Henry was devastated. He had finally found the woman who had given him his heart’s desire, and God had taken her away. She was the perfect wife. She had born him a son and didn’t interfere in state business.

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 And she was chaste! Really, truly chaste! Not the sorta, kinda French chaste practiced by Anne. All that she asked of him is that he render her the honors that were due her as his wife and Queen. And he did, without thinking twice about it. Why oh why couldn’t poor Henry Tudor have it his way, just once! Was that too much to ask? To the end of his days, Henry considered Jane the best wife he ever had. God knows he had enough of them to make the comparison.

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Henry had a practical view of kingship that left little room for sentimentality. He went into seclusion for a bit after Jane’s death, wouldn’t see anyone. When he returned to the land of the living, the Privy Council tentatively, VERY tentatively one would imagine, suggested his Majesty might wish to consider getting married again. Just to make sure there were some extra princes around. It never hurts to have some spares handy. Henry agreed. As soon as was decent, of course. Decent in this case being the day after Jane’s funeral.
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While Henry and his council agreed that re-marriage would be desirable ASAP, they ran into the practical problem of whom to marry. Potential brides were a bit thin on the ground. Adding to the problem were questions of foreign policy and national security. On top of these issues Henry added a layer of his own. The wife of his dreams had to be good looking and have large breasts. Anne was a grave (snicker) disappointment in the breast department. Jane was a big (giggle) improvement, but, not to put too fine a point on it, she was dead.
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What with one thing or another, it was two years before Henry got to play the bridegroom again. Things might have moved faster if Henry had had a better public image. He was in his late forties, balding, putting on a lot of weight, had the disposition of a rattlesnake, had been excommunicated, had three ex-wives, all of them dead, two of them because he wanted them that way, AND… He had a well-deserved reputation for shagging any woman who would hold still for him. And even some that wouldn’t.
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The princesses of Europe were NOT lining up to become Mrs. Henry Tudor the IV. What this meant for the Privy Council is that they would have to go pretty far afield to find their next queen. No one had the brass to tell Henry that he might get lucky sooner if he lowered his expectations.  As it turned out Henry would have been A LOT happier if he had lowered his expectations. Cromwell certainly would have been happier. Not to mention alive.

****

Thank you Mr. Al.  And here I thought it was only Henry’s wives who risked their necks to be near the throne.  Silly me.

Alice

May 22, 2007

The Tudors: The End of Anne Boleyn

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — Tags: , — aliceaudrey @ 11:26 pm

Boy, when the end comes, it really comes fast.  Poor Anne. 

We continue with Mr. Al’s History of Henry the VIII’s Wives.
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 It could be proved that Anne and her lover(s) plotted the Kings murder while rumpling the royal linens. That was it! It was Cromwell who came up with that idea. Henry made sure there was a little extra something in his pay packet that week. In the end, five men were accused of having slept with Anne and taken part in the plot to murder Henry. One of the men was Anne’s brother, Lord Rochford. Interestingly, many people at court found it more shocking that Anne was accused of having sex with a musician, Mark Smeaton, than her own brother.
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Smeaton was a no-account, lute strumming, wine swilling, backstairs lothario! A court hanger-on from a family of, of…commoners! And the Queen slept with…that? (Shudder). At least her brother was a Peer. Breeding tells.  Cromwell thought the additional charge of incest would add a nice, reprehensible touch. He wasn’t taking any chances that Anne might come up with a crowd of sympathizers who might make trouble. He needn’t have worried.
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 Things moved fast. Parliament was dissolved on April 14, to prevent Anne from appealing to that august body. On April 24 the Lord Chancellor appointed a commission of oyer and terminer to address the charges of treason. On the 29th the Privy Council was informed of the proceedings against the Queen. That same day Cromwell laid all the “evidence” before the King. Henry was duly aghast that his beloved Anne was having it off with all those fellows. Her brother also? Yuck! And they wanted to kill me? Forsooth!
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Anne knew nothing of the details of what was about to happen. She knew something was up, that it involved her, but not even in her worse nightmares did she suspect that Henry wanted her whacked. Literally. On the 30th, the first of Anne’s “lovers” was arrested, the musician Smeaton.  He was taken to the Tower and through the use of kind words, yummy snacks and cocktails, confessed to everything he was accused of.
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On the morning of May 2nd, Anne was ordered to appear before the Privy Council. Once there, the Council, which included her uncle, accused her of adultery. Two of the men she had allegedly slept with were named. She was told they had confessed all. The poor woman was too stunned to reply. The council ordered her, by His Majesties Command, to return to her apartments, under guard, and there await further developments. They didn’t keep her waiting long.
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 Back in her rooms, Anne discussed what was happening with some of her ladies. She was, to put it mildly, deeply upset. The fact that Henry wanted a divorce didn’t really surprise her. She had suspected as much for some time. But, My God! The men he accused of sleeping with her were going to die! She hadn’t heard about her brother yet. His arrest had been handled very quietly.
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Early that afternoon the Council called on Anne to deliver the warrant for her arrest. It was then that she learned she was to be charged with plotting Henry’s murder. NOW she understood. Henry wanted her dead. Not just dead, but dead in such a way that Elizabeth would be removed from the line of succession. There was nothing she could do. Henry, in a typical Henryesque fashion, ordered Anne to be taken to the Tower immediately. That is, in broad daylight. In full view of the good citizens of London. That was not the usual way. When it came to vindictive, Anne couldn’t teach Henry a thing.
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By the time Anne’s weeping, hysterical self passed through the Court Gate, not Traitor’s Gate, as some sources hold, it was all over except for the execution. Judgment had already been, unofficially, rendered. In fact, so anxious was Cromwell that the proceedings be viewed as unbiased, that he had a couple of chaps at court rounded up in a way that would cause comment. After “careful scrutiny” of the evidence, they were released. One fellow was let off with a warning about shagging the Queen of England and the price one could pay; the other fellow was told that, although he was innocent, the King didn’t much care for him. He was advised to leave the court and never return. That was the last anyone saw of him.
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On May 19th 1536, Anne’s head hit the straw. Henry had a professional executioner brought in from France. No doubt to give the proceedings a classy, continental touch. Anne always had appreciated the French way of doing things. It took less that two months to have Anne judicially murdered. What a refreshing contrast to the Katherine business. The others were executed the same way, even Smeaton. As a commoner, he wasn’t entitled to such a quick death when the charge was treason. Henry must have been in a good mood that day.

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[ Icky paragraph about the usual methods removed to comments.]

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 Is it any wonder executions were so popular with the public? Londoners didn’t get to see stuff like that every day! And now it was Jane’s turn. Um… to become queen, not to be executed. It’s hard to keep these things straight when you are talking about Henry’s wives.

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Anne may have been one of the more notable wives in Henry’s life, but hardly the last.  Next Tuesday we continue with Henry’s marital woes.  I’m assuming he’s going to do Jane next, but haven’t seen anything yet.

Alice

May 21, 2007

The Tudors: Anne In The Way

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:22 pm

We will be doing two Tudors this week as Anne slides into her dreaded fate, a short one today and a long one tomorrow.
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By February 1536 the bloom was off the lily. Anne was, as far as Henry was concerned, never going to produce a male heir. She also began to vent her notoriously nasty temper on Henry. Something she had tried to avoid during their courtship. She even objected, loudly and in public, to his recreational sex with serving girls. How unreasonable! A guy needs a hobby, doesn’t he? Gee whiz, She didn’t want him to have any fun at all!
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It didn’t help that certain persons were very aware of the Queen’s waning influence and decided to take advantage of it. One of the Queen’s ladies, Jane Seymour, an ambitious young thing of good family, was assiduously prepped by people with experience in such things to catch the king’s eye. Catch it she did. In the months leading up to the Anne/Henry denouement Henry bestowed a number of lavish gifts upon young Jane. Secretly, at first, through intermediaries. And then publicly, from his hands to hers. Anne’s response was to chastise Henry, which only drove him further away.

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Anne knew the vultures were circling, but being Anne, she didn’t know how to stop it. She had manipulated people all her life to get what she wanted. She was a fish out of water in a situation she could not exert direct control over. If she didn’t know the details of what was up, the members of her faction did. Or at least they knew enough to get out of the way. As was to happen to another unfortunate young woman, family members became her most vocal enemies.

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The death of Katherine the previous month, A drawn-out, agonizing death from a disease that Henry would not allow to be treated, in the most dismal surroundings Henry could find for her, didn’t cheer him up for long. After the Katherine business, Henry was in no mood for protracted divorce proceedings. The solution? Kill Anne! He considered accusing her of witchcraft, a capital crime, but there was no evidence. Henry wanted an open/shut case with “justice” delivered as swiftly as possible.
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 God knows Anne had made enough enemies during her rise to power that Henry would have no difficulty stacking a courtroom against her. Henry considered the valuable years squandered on that Boleyn bitch and could just kick himself!  Oh well, no time for regrets. He had wife number three, Jane Seymour, waiting in the wings, ready and able to start popping out male babies.

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But what to accuse Anne of? It had to be bad. So bad that Anne would not only lose her husband, but her head as well. Adultery? Sure, it was a 24-carat gold reason for divorce, but even in a queen it wasn’t a capital crime. It WAS a capital crime for the man who had sex with her; he could be charged with treason and put to death. But that wasn’t the point. Unless…
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Mr. Al, must you leave me hanging?  Good thing I’m posting the next installment tomorrow.

Alice

May 15, 2007

What Katherine Wanted

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 1:12 am

As promised, we continue with Mr. Al’s history of the Tudors.

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What Katherine wanted was a clear statement from the Pope that she was Henry’s lawful wife! She wanted it publicly acknowledged that she was the rightful Queen of England! Why was His Holiness being such a weenie about it? If Henry wouldn’t abide by the Pope’s decision, well, there was nothing she could do about that. At least the world would know that Henry’s actions were just plain WRONG!

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What Charles wanted was for his aunt to be a little, teensy-bit more accommodating. Her stubbornness was beginning to get on his nerves. Clement had already promised her that she would be forgiven if she caved to Henry’s demand that she accept, and become part of, this new Church of England plan he had brewing. Henry even threw a sweetener into the deal by promising to restore Mary to the line of succession without demanding that she convert.

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That was all Charles and Clement needed to hear. They had, at that point, pretty much given up on Katherine ever being restored. If the Catholic Church had any future in England, Princess Mary would be the person to bring it about. Katherine said “NO!” to all of it. If the princes of this world were against her, the Prince of Peace was not. All she could do was wait. And pray. And while she waited and prayed, things went from bad to worse.

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In March 1533 Henry sent Anne’s brother, Lord Rochford, on a secret mission to France. He returned the first week of April. Mission Accomplished! Henry summoned the Privy Council and publicly announced that he had married Anne Boleyn two months previously. Oh, and Anne was pregnant with the heir to the throne. That was that. Katherine was out, Anne was in. Katherine was ordered to cease and desist from referring to herself as Queen of England. Henceforth, she would be known as the Princess Dowager of Wales.

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What Lord Rochford had been sent to France for was to secure, in writing, what had previously been King Francis’s verbal commitment to support Henry’s marriage plans. With the written agreement in hand, Henry had done an end-run around Charles, preventing him from pulling France into an alliance against England.

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 It worked. With King Francis on his side, Henry didn’t have to worry about France being used as a springboard for an invasion from the Empire. And Pope Clement? As far as Henry was concerned, that girlie-boy could sit on his crosier and spin on it. Henry had big, BIG plans for the church and Clement couldn’t do a thing to stop him.

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In March of 1534, Clement finally gave his judgment. He declared the marriage of Katherine and Henry valid and legally binding. Henry was ordered to put aside Anne and resume co-habitating with Katherine, toot-sweet. Talk about closing the barn door after the cows have escaped. For seven years, people great and small had waited for the Pope to make that judgment. For Katherine, those years were emotional, and increasingly, physical misery as Henry moved her from one dilapidated castle to another.

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 Needless to say, the Pope’s judgment changed nothing. Anne was Queen, She had given birth to a healthy baby girl and the royal couple had hopes that a boy was right around the corner. Many considered it God’s judgment upon Henry that Anne would never have another child that survived birth.  

Unfortunately for Anne, Henry started seeing it that way too.

***

And you all know who that baby girl was, don’t you.

Alice

May 8, 2007

The Tudors – Henry and Anne Get It On.

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 10:53 pm

Just so you know, I’m the one who comes up with the cheesy titles.  Mr. Al never thinks to give me one.  Anyway, when we left off Henry was about to discover something about his virginal queen-to-be not entirely to his liking.

***
It turned out, or so Henry later claimed, that Anne had been “corrupted” while in France. That she had had sexual experiences that left her, technically, still a virgin. He did not elaborate on what the experiences had been. The king found this most disturbing after all the protestations on Anne’s part that she had keep herself pure for Henry’s sake. Hard to imagine what a woman like Anne could have possibly done that would constitute sexual contact, while leaving her virginity intact. Hmmmmmm.
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But no matter, If Henry had any doubts at that time he didn’t let them get in the way of his fun. He was getting what he wanted from the woman he wanted. It took a few months, but eventually Anne was pregnant. Henry just knew it was going to be a boy and shifted all his plans into high gear. On January 25 1533, Henry and Anne were married at Whitehall palace. It was a secret ceremony, immediate family only. All involved were sworn to secrecy. This didn’t prevent Henry from dropping broad hints while he was in his cups at a banquet a few weeks later. Henry’s drunken ranting weren’t the same as an official announcement, however. But it was just the sort of thing that spread faster than an official announcement.
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No doubt word reached Katherine. Whither she believed it or would hardly have mattered. Henry was on a campaign to make Katherine’s life a living hell. He was succeeding. Having God and the people on her side was small conciliation after Henry took Princess Mary away from her. News from Rome was bad. The Pope was behind her 100 percent. Way, way behind her. At the moment Clement and Charles were pax because Charles needed Clement’s support against the Turks, who were on the Empires eastern borders. Clement threatened Henry with excommunication. Again. Henry told him to piss off. Again. Clement said he REALLY meant it this time! Henry’s reply? “Yeah? Whatever.” Or words to that effect.
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By the time Henry and Anne were married, Henry had already decided to break with Rome. Clement didn’t know this, of course. He hoped against hope that such a catastrophe could be avoided. He really had no idea that his spineless waffling was one of the things that set Henry on his course. In February of 1533 Clement told Charles that Katherine’s case would be heard in Rome and Rome only. This time he would settle Henry’s hash once and for all, By God! He neglected to set a date for this big showdown. Not that it mattered to Henry. He had no intention of going to Rome. Physically place himself in the Emperors backyard? Not bloody likely.
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 Charles was too preoccupied to do much. Invading England on Katherine’s behalf was something he had once been serious about. A number of things held him back now. One, a sea-borne invasion would be a huge undertaking. The logistics were daunting; assembling the ships, the horses and men, the equipment, the provisions, a staggering task. And the expense! It had been possible earlier, but all that manpower sequestered in the west while Johnny Turk was romping through the Balkans? The turbaned bastards wanted to sack Vienna! No, the timing just wasn’t right! The other thing was, as previously mentioned, Katherine herself. She was quickly becoming her own worse enemy.

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Mr. Al has already given me the next Tudor installment.  It’s good, but I’m not going to tell you anything about it until Next Tuesday.  Then hopefully we will do a Tudor Tuesday until he’s covered the last of Henry’s queens.  I know it’s nothing to rival Tessa’s TMI Tuesday, but well worth swinging by anyway.

Alice

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