|The Tudors Retold
Author: keep calm-and-beafangirl PM
We all know the rhyme of Henry 8th's wives, but what if their order were scrambled? The rhyme will remain the same, but how the wives reach their fates might not be what is expected... Rated T for safety.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Chapters: 7 - Words: 8,558 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 08-13-12 - Published: 06-26-12 - id: 8257505
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"His Grace, the King!"
There was a flurry of movement as courtiers, guards and ladies in waiting stood to attention as Henry Tudor, King of England strode into the Presence Chamber at Whitehall Palace. As one, everyone bowed or curtsied humbly, all dressed in their best silks and satins as the King sat down on his canopied crimson velvet throne and stared around jovially at all the bent heads. He sought out Wolsey's scarlet cardinals robes and beckoned him over with one wave of his heavily ringed hand.
"How now, Thomas," said the King, "Hurry it up with business today, I want to go hunting before my dinner."
"As you wish your Grace, but there is the pressing need to reply to the Queens brother, the Duke of Cleves concerning the treaty against France and the gold and men you promised to aid him with."
Henry sighed deeply. How he disliked matters of state. Didn't Wolsey have enough sense to bother him with this at such a time? His Queen, Anne of Cleves was expecting their eighth child. It would hopefully go to full term this time and be the longed for son and heir to the House of Tudor. Princess Mary simply would not do. Their only issue was a useless girl and a puny one at that! Girls were incapable of political wrangling and ruling a nation, everyone knew it to be true. Henry rubbed his hands together with glee at the prospect of a boy to fill the cradle and, God willing, the throne of England in his turn.
"Oh very well," Henry finally ground out, snapping his fingers impatiently, "I will look over his proposals, but make sure he does not cheat me Thomas, everyone knows you cannot trust these Protestant Dukes!"
Wolsey forced himself to chuckle and twist his heavy jaws in a semblance of agreement for his King and placed the papers of the proposed aid in the royal hand before bowing again and walking backwards from the throne. As he turned and left the Presence Chamber with all it's unsavoury scents and multicoloured fabrics, he had to fall into a bow again as he spied the Queen coming down the corridor with several of her ladies.
Queen Anne of Cleves had come to England twenty years ago as the bride of the King's brother Arthur to cement an alliance between the Duchy of Cleves and England. France and Spain had naturally put forward their own candidates, but the miserly Henry 7th was not impressed with the dowries being offered and dismissed them as 'utter insults'. The new Protestant religion was taking hold over Europe and the miser King saw no reason not to profit from the craze. France and Spain were always double crossing everyone, including each other. What he needed was more gold to help his depleting treasury and therefore accepted the offer of 50,000 gold pieces for the opportunity to call upon the so called Protestant League to aid England if they were in need of them. The Dukes sister Anne was chosen for Arthur as a sweetener. She arrived after a month in storm tossed seas and was married to the Prince a week later. But the miser King was not impressed with Anne's looks. She was not ugly, but not exactly a beauteous prize either. Mouse brown hair and a set of rather dull blue eyes and a most hideous dress sense had not helped. The English were known for their fashionable garments and the whole court was appalled when she made her debut into court life. To top it off, she knew not a word of proper English and insisted on pointing while making the guttural sounds of her language whilst maintaining a wide grin which showed her teeth to be less than perfect. However, both Princes went out of their way to befriend her against their fathers disappointment and it seemed as though they all got on very well. After the wedding ceremony, Arthur and Anne had gone to Wales to set up their own little court as was tradition. Tragedy struck when smallpox entered the area and carried of Prince Arthur and half of their servants in just a few short days. At the death of the miser King, Henry was persuaded by his new councillors to uphold the Protestant alliance and marry the widowed Princess Anne. Twenty years later, the marriage was growing increasingly fraught as each subsequent child Anne bore died except for a daughter, Mary.
Wolsey tried not to let any of what he was reminiscing to show on his face as the Queen drew nearer. Her mousy hair had faded to grey now and there were lines on her face that made her appear older than she was and had a much fuller figure.
"Good afternoon, Cardinal," she said, giving Wolsey a nod of acknowledgment, "How is the King today?
"Madam, I am pleased to tell you that His Grace is well. He is looking over your brothers proposals as we speak. I believe he will assist him with his war with France." said Wolsey kindly.
Queen Anne put her hand to her heart and allowed herself a small smile. "Thank the Lord, Cardinal! I was so worried that the King would refuse aid. He and I are not altogether happy since the death of our last child and the Princess Mary needs to be schooled by the proper masters, but the King has refused. He says it is useless to educate a girl." Queen Anne shook her head sadly and one of her ladies in waiting offered her a scrap of lace to blow her nose on. She grasped the plain wooden crucifix that hung at her waist, turning it over and over in her fingers as though by touching it fervently, all her troubles might be erased. Wolsey noticed the gesture and his heart warmed at the sign of her comfort, even though it was contrary to his own Catholic wrought solid gold confection.
"Take heart Madam, the child you carry might be your salvation. Give the King a son and all will be well."
Queen Anne stiffened noticeably and said, "Yes. It all depends on a son does it not, Cardinal? But a man should know it is not all a women's fault if she fails to produce a boy. Perhaps this is a sign from God? Mayhap what the Lord truly desires is that a woman will rule this island and run it well. But I must curtail myself, it is not a popular opinion that I speak of."
One this tart note, Queen Anne nodded again and swept away to the door of the Presence Chamber where the noise was already at fever pitch. The guards clanged their pikes as they opened the double doors for her.
"Her Grace, the Queen!"
As the ladies of her company trailed past, Wolsey caught sight of a pair of startlingly blue eyes and a riot of golden hair caught up in a jewelled snood that he had not seen before. He held out an arm to waylay her. It was his business to know everything and everyone at court. Knowledge was power after all.
"A moment mistress," he said kindly, "I have not had the pleasure of your acquaintance as yet. You serve the Queen?"
The girls full mouth curved upwards and she nodded, curtsying.
"I have that honour, Cardinal, yes. My father Sir John petitioned the Queen for a place for me, so that I may find a husband."
Wolsey searched his mind for a Sir John, but could recall none who would have a daughter.
"Your name mistress?"
The girls eyes gleamed and she stepped around Wolsey, following the Queen, her every movement elegant seduction beneath her ice blue silk gown.
"My name is Jane Seymour."