A/N: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed over the past five months. I appreciate the time you've taken to read my story.
For the last time on this story, I don't own what you recognize.
Charles and Mary ruled England together for twenty-five years. On July 6, 1560, King Charles I of England died in his sleep. He was sixty years old and left behind his wife, Queen Mary I, fourteen children, and twelve grandchildren. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the grave of his mother-in-law, Katherine of Aragon, who had died fifteen years earlier.
His wife died less than two months later, on August 29, at the age of forty-four. In the letter he wrote to his twin sister, Queen Margaret of Spain, King Charles II told his sister that "Mama died of a broken heart. It was too much for her to go on living without Papa. Frances, Hal, and I agree that while she loved us, our mother had little interest in living without her husband."
Hal, now twenty-nine, was the Duke of Suffolk and principal advisor of King Charles II. He had been married to Lady Mary Knivert, the daughter of Anthony and Catherine Knivert for nine years at the time of his mother's death. Tony had died shortly after his daughter's marriage, but he had lived long enough to see the birth of his grandson, Anthony. Catherine lived with her son Charles who had succeeded his father as Earl of Herefordshire and then married Lady Elizabeth More, the daughter of Sir John More and Lady Jane Seymour.
Eleanor had married for love at the age of eighteen. She had not married any of the men that Court gossip had expected her to marry. Instead, she married Philip, the Duke of Bavaria, who had come to England to woo her for political reasons but ended up converting to Catholicism out of love for his wife. Together, they had produced a family of five children whom they both adored.
Frances had followed her father's predictions straight to a nunnery at the age of sixteen-of her own desire.
Charles-Henry had married the only child of the King of Scotland, Mary Stuart. She was about nine years younger than him, but they had married in 1558, when she was fifteen and he was twenty-five. At first, she had been timid, but she had learned to respect her husband and his family. In March of 1560, she gave birth to a son whom they named Charles, in honor of his grandfather. He would one day grow up to be Charles III of England.
William, at twenty-six, was a priest and studying in Rome. The priesthood had been his choice. His father would have preferred a military career but William wanted to be a priest and a scholar.
Bess married Ambassador Alejandro Lopez. On the day of her wedding, she declared herself to be the most happy of all women. She and her husband had moved to Spain upon the death of Alejandro's elder brother, the Duke of Bilbao. It was there, as an adult, that Elizabeth Tudor met her mother, the Duchess of Pamplona, and began to know. While Elizabeth and Anne were able to be friends, Bess told Mary in a letter in 1557, "Anne gave me life, but you gave me joy. She is my mother, but you are my mama, the woman who nurtured me and comforted me. I consider her my friend and you my mama. Without you, I am nothing."
Kat had married a member of the Medici family at the age of nineteen. She informed her parents that she wanted to make a politically advantageous marriage and she wanted to live somewhere that was warmer and sunnier than England. Her parents' advisors found her a marriage in Italy. And her letters were always warm and cheery. "It is clear that having William nearby gives her comfort," Charles had once remarked.
John became a soldier. Eventually, he would marry and have a family, but that did not come until later in life for him. He lived at Court, entertaining his siblings and defending his beloved England. He was generally regarded as the merriest of his siblings.
After John, Mary and Charles had five more children, four daughters and a son. Prince Edward was the first child born after his father's return from France eventually became the Governor of France. This did not happen during his parents' lives, but Charles II had made that choice believing it to be something of which his parents would have approved. The fact that Edward married Lucy Knivert only confirmed this in Charles's mind.
In 1543, Queen Mary had given birth to a baby girl whom King Charles insisted upon naming Princess Mary. His wife insisted upon tacking Caroline after the Mary so as to make the little red-headed girl named after both her parents. Mary Caroline grew up to be smart and beautiful and "the most enchanting girl on earth," according to numerous people.
After Mary Caroline came Jane in 1545. Lucy was born in 1548. And Georgiana, a name Charles claimed to have invented, was born in 1549. She was eleven when her parents died, but her older siblings, especially Eleanor took care of her. She eventually married Nicholas Knivert and was considered to be the happiest of her siblings.
Under Charles II and his heirs, England flourished. He encouraged the arts and writers and playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Kit Marlowe, and Ben Jonson rose to national acclaim. Their works are remembered in the annals of history. He also encouraged the English exploration and colonization of the New World.
England never endured a civil war. The kingdom was largely peaceful from the end of Charles's war with France until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Charles and Mary were eventually canonized by the Roman Catholic Church for their devotion to their faith and their guidance of England during a difficult time. Sts. Charles and Mary of England are still revered by the English people to this day; they are the co-patrons of England alongside St. George. When Queen Victoria became the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace, she ordered that a painting of Sts. Charles and Mary that had been painted by Hans Holbein during their lifetimes be hung where all visitors to the palace could see it. It remains there to this day. Historians agree that during their reign Charles and Mary changed the course of English history. Explanations vary, but the conclusion is that if Henry VIII had lived, he would have sent England on a dramatically different course. As one text said, "Who knows what would have become of England, but one thing is certain. The strong patience and firm hand exhibited by Charles I and Mary I freed England from the tumult of Henry. Their strong, devoted marriage and their love for their children encouraged their subjects…Their marriage also seems to have set an example for their fourteen children, each of whom went on to have a happy marriage and a stable family. In many ways, Charles and Mary could be seen as the first grandparents of Europe, a title that would later be claimed a second time by their descendent Victoria and her husband, Albert."
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