Author's note: I was inspired to write this story from the Challenges section of the Tudors fan fiction forum, more specifically ReganX. The basic plot line is what if Arthur, Henry VIII's older brother, had lived long enough to be King of England? It is my first work of fan fiction, and my first time dealing with historical fiction. I am going to take some serious liberties with historical accuracy but if some of the details dealing with characters/historical personages are inaccurate, please let me know but I will try and do the best I can to make this story as accurate as possible. Lastly, I do not own these characters, history and Showtime's The Tudors does! Enjoy and don't forget to review!
Oh and P.S. - Sorry if this chapter is a little short! I wanted to test out the waters before I started rambling too much. Hope you enjoy!
November 14, 1509
King Henry VII was a man who was always careful, never one to stir any sort of rift in either his political or personal life, so when picking out a future bride for his eldest son and heir he was nervous that the pick of the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella would prove to be fruitless and worthless. He was thankful that the girl, Catalina, was as beautiful as he could have hoped and even though it was no matter, Arthur was taken with her. Although he never said it out loud, he needed to be sure that his son was capable of producing an heir with the Spanish Infanta within a year or so. That way, he could send his younger son into the Church, which would settle his sons, allowing him to focus his attention towards marriages for his daughters. It certainly would help if Arthur felt some kind of attraction towards Catalina.
As he watched his younger son dance with the new Princess of Wales, he couldn't help but allow a small smile to graze his usual somber face. Young Henry was a golden prince, but far too reckless even at his young age. He was thankful that he had Arthur, a truly regal child and everything a father could ask for in a son. Henry, or Harry as he liked to be called, was healthy and robust along with intelligent, but he reminded Henry VII too much of Edward IV, his children's maternal grandfather. Although Edward was loved by the people, he was a failure as a King (in Henry's opinion) and allowed his lust to guide his decisions. He feared that if, God forbid, anything ever happened to Arthur and Harry became heir and eventually King, England would be in perils as it was under Edward. England survived once, but he feared it couldn't survive again; he had worked too hard to secure peace in the country for a foolish boy to ruin it. He could never allow anything terrible to happen to Arthur before his Prince of Wales produced a son, or else he would feel personally reasonable for leaving his reckless young son as heir.
He knew his wife Elizabeth was pleased with the marriage as well, although he would never ask her. Elizabeth of York was a true English matron, one that would never question her husband, whose claim to the throne was lesser than her own. Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of Edward IV, was very pleasing as a wife and had given him, so far, four living children that were all healthy. It was true that he had won his crown off of the battlefield and that his royal blood was through ties to a bastard, but he knew that for the most part the English people respected and feared their Tudor King. He was not there to be loved and as a general rule he was not loved, but his children, especially his sons, were loved. Arthur and Harry were the main attractions of the royal family, and the newest addition, Catalina, would prove to be another people-pleaser.
Drawing himself from this thoughts, he walked over to his daughter-in-law and favored her with somewhat of a paternal smile before speaking. "Hello daughter. I hope this banquet is to your liking," he spoke in slow English, a language he was aware she knew little of. She was well-versed in Latin and of course her native Castilian, but not so much in English yet.
Catalina nodded, smiling at him. She was a beautiful girl, he thought to himself. Her flowing brown-red hair and her plump body were all too pleasing to behold. He was glad his son, like himself, had a beautiful and royal wife. Another thing that was pleasing to the miserly Henry was the large dowry that came from the Spanish royal marriage. Like himself, the Spanish royal family was new, but they had power and he saw a huge advantage in courting them.
Catalina excused herself, leaving Henry alone with his younger son. He acknowledged Harry with a nod, in which his son excused himself with a graceful bow. Henry then sat back down on the royal dais, kissing his wife's hand and addressing his mother who was sitting next to him, as always. "What do you think of her?"
"Nothing special, but she's certainly fertile looking and has rich parents," the ever-clever Margaret Beaufort replied, twisting her narrow face into a thoughtful look.
"Indeed. How much did this damn banquet cost?" Henry asked his mother, who shook her head sorrowfully. Like her son, she was shrewd with monetary things and hated spending more money than what was necessary. However, she knew that it was important for the new royal family to put on a show when it came to foreign monarchs.
"Too much, but not enough to cause a large debt in the treasury, which is still as rich as it was before. You will certainly leave a great deal of money to Arthur," she calculated with a smile.
Henry nodded, turning his attention towards his son and his new wife. In the loudest voice he could summon he cried, "A toast, to the Prince and Princess of Wales! May they live long and prosperous lives!" The cheers were loud and welcome, as everyone present raised their glasses to Arthur and Catalina.
Henry VII may be a careful man but he decided that if Catalina could give him a grandson and secure his dynasty, this risky marriage would be worth it.
She wanted to write to her mother the moment she stepped on English soil, and the growing need to was painful. It had been far too long since she had heard her mother's reassuring voice. It was before she had left for this strange and cold land.
"Be strong my daughter. Remember who you are," Queen Isabella was known for being a strong and able ruler as any man, but as she spoke these words she found herself tearing. Catalina was her favorite child because she was so serious about her devotions and about GOD. Isabella was always pleased to see such in her children.
"Yes Madre. Is the King of England kind?" Catalina felt foolish as soon as she spoke these words, but she couldn't help herself. She didn't want to go into a strange country with a cruel King without being prepared.
"I don't know my dearest, but I'm sure he will be kind to you. Both of our countries worked hard for this marriage to finally take place, so even if he is a mean man, you must not let your distaste show," Isabella was firm but motherly in saying this. She understood the perils of being married into a bad family, which she herself almost was, but she raised her daughter to take everything as a sign of GOD's will.
"Of course not. I won't let you down. I promise," Catalina swore.
She picked up her quail, tempted to write, but set it down in frustration.
Would her mother be disappointed if she wrote so soon about her fears, or would she welcome correspondence from her beloved daughter?
Catalina didn't honestly know.
Queen Isabella was a kinder mother than most royal children could expect, but she could be an enigma at times. She was heartbroken over her husband's various affairs, but never confronted them. She loved her children and always made sure they were happy, but she never let them argue about marriages or arrangements. Growing up in such an environment allowed Catalina to understand things that a child her age would usually fail to grasp. Dignity was more important than personal feelings.
Catalina enjoyed being around Arthur, but he was such a quiet and solemn boy. The King was kind to her but she wasn't sure if he was sincere. Soon she would have to let go of her Spanish ladies and gain English ones so she hoped to make friends with either her husband or father-in-law before they left her alone and friendless.
After spending a short while in Henry VII and Arthur's, she knew that she had a better chance with her husband than her father-in-law. As well as that, the young Duke of York, little Prince Harry, already had taken a serious liking to her so that was a reassuring sign. Soon she would have to depart to Ludlow Castle, the traditional residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and she would no longer see her new English family, so the friendship with the Duke of York would do nothing for her. She decided that it was crucial to make friends with Arthur if she didn't want to spend the rest of her life alone.
Having settled on this, she stood up and settled herself onto the bed and closed her eyes, allowing the tears she had been fighting for so long to fall. She had dismissed her ladies in order to enjoy the banquet which was still going on, which she felt bad for leaving so early but she had to be alone for a while.
She couldn't let anybody see her cry like a homesick baby. They would expect better from the daughter of Isabella.
They wouldn't expect her to write to her mother on the night of her wedding.
They would expect her to be dancing and her eyes should be felt with mirth, not red-rimmed with tears.
She strengthened herself with a goblet of wine, brushed her gown free of all particles, and fixed her headdress.
It was her wedding night, and the daughter of Isabella and the future Queen of England would have to be happy, even if that was the last thing she was.
Arthur, Prince of Wales, future King of England was nervous. His pale face told a lie that he knew what to do.
He never slept in the same bed as a girl before, let alone actually lie with them! He was only fifteen years old, what did they expect of him?
It was his duty as a man to lay with his wife in order to make a child. It was a simple lesson taught when was far too young to understand, although they never told him what he was supposed to do in order to make a child.
He felt stupid and embarrassed. Catalina was waiting in her rooms, standing anxiously by the bed. Although he wished her to be as comfortable as possible in her new home, he felt oddly happy that the dignified Princess of Spain was just as nervous as he was.
His grooms stripped him of his robe and her ladies did the same for her. There they were, nervously standing on either side of the bed with half the court in attendance. Although Arthur disliked his strict grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he was overjoyed that she had sensibly banished the idea of standing around while a royal couple consummated the marriage and he was more grateful to her than anybody else.
After the coverlet was pulled over the newlyweds and the bed was blessed by a bishop, along with the many prayers said for sons to be made, the couple was left alone with their thoughts. Arthur admired her, the beautiful Spanish princess that she was. He could see her trembling slightly and felt the urge to reach his hand out and grab her, softly rubbing her small hand with his thumb. She pulled away slightly, but did not resist the attempt at comfort. Arthur smiled and placed a smile kiss on her lips.
He had to be brave for her, he thought to himself. He had to show her that unlike his cold father and grandmother, he was human and he would be kind. He also had to be a man, a brave man, and lay with his wife.
It was their solemn duty to produce children. They could wait no longer, regardless if they themselves were just two scared royal children.