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graven with diamonds in letters plain
Chapter One: January 1536 – December 1536
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
30 January 1536
My boy is gone. My darling baby, the one who I'd pinned all my hopes on, the one last chance I'd had to keep my husband's love, is dead, gone before he could even draw his first breath in this world.
Henry blames me. When I lay in my bed, writhing in pain as our dead child slipped from my body, all he could say was, "You've lost my boy!" Not a word of comfort, nor a thought for what I might be suffering! That child was every bit as mine as he was his!
It isn't all my fault! If he hadn't been wenching with that whore, our son would still be alive and growing in my womb! Their dallying has cost my son his life and England its heir, and Henry sees it as my fault? Cruel, hateful man!
FROM THE PAPERS OF HERBERT LINACRE, HIS MAJESTY'S PERSONAL PHYSICAN
10 February 1536
Her Majesty summoned me and the midwives who had been retained for her delivery. The subsequent examination that she demanded to ascertain her chances for future childbearing was informative. The queen has shown in the past that she has no problem conceiving a child, as the presence of Princess Elizabeth and the two children HM has miscarried indicates. What has been the problem with her second and third child is that she has trouble carrying the prospective child to term. The midwives and I agreed amongst ourselves after the examination that the miscarriage HM suffered in 1534 and most especially HM's most recent misfortune has wrought permanent damage to HM's womb and humors.
HM took our diagnosis in a rather composed manner, much different from her behavior since the unfortunate incident that occurred a week before.
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
10 February 1536
I am stunned by the swift turn of events that have come about today. These past few days I have been considering methods with which to secure my freedom. Since God has made it clear that I will not have a living male heir from Anne, I have been wondering how I might be able to marry again. I had no desire to go through everything I endured with Katherine, and I was certain that Anne would fight me every bit as hard as Katherine did.
Now everything has changed.
This afternoon, Anne came to see me. I was surprised to see her up and out of her chambers, as she had remained bedridden since she lost my son. I had spent the past two weeks angry at her for allowing her injured pride to poison our son, but when I saw her today, I just couldn't hold onto that anger. She looked so… small. I could tell that she had lost weight, and she looked exhausted. It's hard to be angry at someone who was so clearly suffering.
She asked to speak to me alone, as Cromwell was currently present, and I agreed, shooing the man out. Once we were by ourselves, she began to speak. She informed me that she had spoken to Dr. L and the midwives and that this latest miscarriage had caused irreparable damage to her body. Because of that, Anne stated that due to the damage, she would likely never carry another child to term. Elizabeth was to be our only heir.
I admit, my anger did return then. This was not supposed to happen! She had promised to give me a son, to deliver where Katherine had failed! I was ready to berate her, to call her a witch for beguiling me into marriage and imperiling my kingdom, but she kept right on talking, not giving me a chance to say a word.
Because of this great misfortune, Anne told me that she felt it was best she step aside as my wife and Queen. I was stunned. Anne was leading me on a merry dance, much as she had done during our courtship, and just as then, I could only follow.
She expressed her disappointment that she had been unable to provide me with the son we both sought, though she did add that we have a daughter of which we can both be proud, something I don't disagree with at all. Elizabeth is my greatest treasure and if she had only been born a boy, she would be perfect. Anne expressed her grief at not being able to preserve our son's life, but still maintained that our marriage was a legitimate one and that, if nothing else, it had provided me with a legitimate daughter with which to use in my negotiations with my fellow rulers. Elizabeth would also do well as an heir presumptive until I could remarry and have a son.
I was shocked, yes, but as she told me these things, I began to actually see what it meant. Anne was agreeing to not stand against a divorce as Katherine had done. For the good of England, she was setting me free. I would not have to wait; I could be remarried within the year, and to my dear, dear Jane. I had been making preparations for these past few days, determined to not have to wait for years to separate from Anne as I had with Katherine. Even now, it still hurts to think that, but for Katherine's stubbornness, Anne and I might have had a son even before Elizabeth had been born.
But now, Anne was offering me my freedom, presenting it like the ancient Romans would have made offerings to their barbaric gods. It was all so much to take in, but I still managed to speak, agreeing that it was right that we do what was best for the kingdom, and that I would summon Cromwell and Archbishop Cranmer to sort out the legalities of the situation.
That ended our meeting and Anne moved to leave. As she did so, though, I couldn't help but feel some remorse. Once, I had loved her beyond all reason, had adored her above any other person in the world. I reached out to her, and she looked at me. Anne was still a handsome woman, despite the trials she'd undergone these past years. She had been my sweetheart, and I wanted to offer some word of comfort to her, but I found myself utterly tongue-tied.
Anne didn't seem to mind my silence, though, and instead she touched me, her fingers brushing over my cheek. I could only watch as tears filled her eyes and saw the very real pain she was feeling. "Henry," she whispered with such a longing that I have never heard. I think that, had she not fled the room at that moment, I might have taken her in my arms again and never let go of her, the whole world be damned.
Even now, she has such a hold on me…
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
13 February 1536
Well, Cromwell and Cranmer certainly work quickly. I wonder if Henry bribed them to come up with such a quick solution.
I was summoned today to discuss the terms for my and Henry's separation. My father, my uncle, and George accompanied me, although I'd only told them of my decision this morning. Father was furious, of course, and berated me for actually utelling/u the king that I could no longer bear children and for giving up so easily what he and the others had fought so hard to gain. I longed to remind him yet again that it had been I who had gotten Henry to fall in love with me, but knew that would do nothing to resolve the situation, so I kept my silence.
George was upset as well, but less inclined to wail about it like our father. Uncle Norfolk was rather quiet on the subject, and one can never tell what he is thinking.
The meeting consisted only of myself, my family, Cromwell, Cranmer, and Henry, which was something of a relief. I'd been afraid that Henry would have brought along those vile, wretched Seymours, or Suffolk, to witness the evidence of my admitting defeat.
Cranmer began the meeting by quoting scripture at length, boring at least half the room near to sleep, but then finally got to the point. He said that since God told Men to go forth and multiply, my new inability to bear children could be considered justifiable cause for a divorce. He also stated that since ours had been a legitimate marriage and that both parties were willing to separate, the dissolution could occur with no loss face on either side, and Elizabeth thus would retain her legitimate status as a Princess of England.
I was so relieved to hear that, as Elizabeth's wellbeing has been my primary concern. As long as Elizabeth remained a princess in eyes of the law and the church, then she retained a legitimate claim to the throne of England, the primary claim unless Henry actually managed to get a son on another bride. Of course, I wasn't completely unaware that he already had someone lined up to take my place. I just wonder if any milky-eyed, puny brat that Jane Seymour manages to produce could even make it past its first birthday.
Once Cranmer finished explaining how he had managed to twist religious doctrine to allow Henry and I to divorce without incurring any negative consequences, Cromwell stepped in with the practicalities of our separation. Including the estates I hold already as the Marquess of Pembroke, Henry will settle on me several new estates, former monasteries, and their assets.
"In addition," Cromwell added, "His Majesty has decreed that you will be granted the title Duchess of Pembroke, as well as continue hold the courtesy title of Queen, because of your holy anointment."
Her Highness, Queen Anne, Duchess of Pembroke. It sounds well enough, though certainly not as glorious as Queen of England. Still, I was in no position to quibble. In fact, I was shocked that Henry was being so generous. He could have just as easily left me with nothing, bastardized our child, and I would have no way of stopping him.
The rest of what Henry will give me is also pleasing enough: I'll continue to be considered a member of the royal family, due to my status as Elizabeth's mother, and I will continue to be remembered in the prayers said for the royal family's health and wellbeing throughout England. My letters patent will also be changed to include the heirs female, allowing my title, goods, and estates to be passed onto Elizabeth when I die.
Once everything had been laid out, Henry and I signed the documents that Cranmer and Cromwell required. As we all moved to leave, I watched Henry. There was no indication of his feelings as there had been when we met on the tenth. Back then, I saw something of the love he had once felt, and I knew then that there was still some part of him that felt something toward me.
He just does not love me enough to keep me, to be content with our precious, precocious daughter being the sole legitimate heir to the throne. I loved him with my whole heart, I still love him, despite all, and it tears at me that his love does not match my own.
I returned to my chambers, unable to bear the sight of him any longer, and ordered my maids and ladies to begin packing. I would have to send servants to Windsor, Greenwich, and Hampton Court to gather the rest of my possessions there and prepare them for transport to my new residence, of which I have yet to select.
My family had followed me back to my apartments. Father again started to complain of my decision to inform the king of my barrenness. After letting him fume for a few minutes, George interrupted him, telling him that it was for the best that I had been honest with Henry. What had happened to me could not be kept secret, and if I had tried to keep it from him, Henry probably would have tried us all for treason. George believed that I was coming off rather well, keeping the Pembroke estates along with a Duchy and continued inclusion in the royal family. He admitted that the family might lose some of its stewardships and offices, but he didn't think Henry would strip them of everything, since the entire situation was being presented as no one was to suffer any loss of face.
"Though," he added more darkly, "it will grate to see what we lose go to the Seymours."
I agreed with him on that score. Jane Seymour had played the game of enticing Henry well, something she had learned from me. Well, she probably had been coached by her ambitious brothers and their sanctimonious father. By withholding sexual favors from Henry, Jane might as well have incited a bull. I had refused to be Henry's mistress, refused to be a whore, no matter what the rest of the known world thought of me. Jane had outwardly pretended to do the same, and was now reaping the rewards. No matter that she killed a prince of England to get what she wanted.
Uncle Norfolk also agreed with George. We had not achieved all of our ambitions, but we were hardly going away penniless. Elizabeth is a princess of England, and could very well one day be Queen if Henry never manages to have a son. George also added that even if a boy is born, there is nothing to stop Henry from marrying Elizabeth off to a foreign prince, making her a future queen of a foreign country. While it is painful to think that my Elizabeth might one day leave me to go so far away, it is still a warming thought, that my darling girl could be a queen.
Father, however, was not so optimistic. "Not if all of Europe refuses to acknowledge the validity of Anne's marriage to the king! The Emperor and the Pope won't allow it!"
Uncle Norfolk told Father to calm down and calmly explained that it was possible that the Emperor and the Pope might be more amenable on the subject of Elizabeth's legitimacy now that Katherine was dead and I had agreed to stand aside. The Emperor had defended his family's pride, but now that the heart of his objections was gone, he might prove more lenient. Father, of course, pointed out that the Lady Mary was still present and that the king could always restore her to the succession ahead of Elizabeth.
I didn't think he would, though. Doing so would mean admitting, however tacitly, that his union with Katherine had some validity to it. I didn't think Henry would do such a thing, not even to spite me. I admitted that it was possible that Lady Mary could eventually be returned to the succession, but most likely not ahead of Elizabeth, not when it would imply that she had a better claim.
There was little my father could say against our arguments, and thus he and the others soon left me alone. Before Uncle Norfolk left, however, he stopped to say that I was coming out of my marriage rather well, considering that Henry could have just as easily thrown me into a nunnery left untouched by Cromwell especially for me.
It was an unsettling thought, especially when I know that he was right.
EXCERPT OF A LETTER TO ELIZABETH HOLLAND FROM THOMAS HOWARD, DUKE OF NORFOLK
27 February 1536
My Beloved Bess,
Anne has left London, and strangely enough, the people did not come out to cheer her going. I rode with her party through the city as her escort, and all I heard were calls of support, particularly from among the women. "God save Queen Anne!" I heard more than once, and from the people who practically spat in her path when she traveled to her coronation. Now they are supporting her, grumbling about her "being pushed off her throne" and other such phrases. There is even a rather bawdy ballad spreading through the markets and taverns, painting Anne's departure as the wronged lady being sent away at the behest of her husband's shameless, unfeeling mistress. Just a few years ago, such a song would have named Anne as the mistress, with Katherine of Aragon as the wronged wife.
Nonetheless, most of the court does little to hide their jubilation at her departure. The Seymours and Suffolk are acting particularly smug – as if they had anything to do with her going – though at the very least the Seymour slut girl has the good manners to be subtle about it. Though, I suppose her low spirits could be attributed to the ballad circulating through all of London.
The king is surprisingly solemn over the whole matter. Plans are already in the making for his marriage to Jane Seymour, yes, but he isn't salivating all over the woman like he has been in recent weeks. More than once he has been seen staring off in the direction that Anne went in. If I were a sentimental man, I would think that he missed her.
ORDER FOR RENOVATION OF BUSHEY HALL AT THE BEHEST OF QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE
19 March 1536
By the hand of Her Highness' secretary, John Uvedale
By orders of Her Highness, Queen Anne, Duchess of Pembroke, the following renovations are to be made of Bushey Hall, Hertfordshire (soon to be renamed Queen's Hall):
- nursery to be enlarged into full bedchamber
- main bedchamber to be redesigned to architect's specifications
- smaller bedrooms of the third floor to be combined into a dormitory for Her Highness' ladies
- water closets to be scoured, enlarged, or added in areas indicated by architect
- kitchens to be restructured
- entire roof to be replaced
- gardens to be redesigned to architect's specifications
- other tasks to be assigned
LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM GEORGE BOLEYN, VISCOUNT ROCHFORD
22 March 1536
I may well never forgive you for reducing your household to the point that you didn't take Jane with you. Now I have to put up all the time with her incessant complaining without using her duties to you as a ready distraction. Personally, I think she's just cross that her brother's wife, Grace Newport, is expecting a child, since should that child survive, it would end any chance of our supposed son inheriting at least part of Baron Morley's estates. Not that I have any intention of having a child with her.
Speaking of which, that has become Father's newest bone of contention – you may have heard of it in his letters to you? He is 'most displeased' that there are still no Boleyn grandchildren for him to direct to further his dynastic ambitions. He's made it clear that he wants a grandson – preferably named Thomas, after him – to one day carry on the family titles. I think he's getting a bit desperate because he's disowned Mary and any children she might have with Stafford, and he has no way of staking any kind of claim on Elizabeth.
Regardless, he will just have to accustom himself to the disappointment of not having one of his descendants to keep his bloodline going, and be resigned to the fact that one of Uncle James' children or grandchildren will inherit from me, provided I outlive him. I copulated with that woman on our wedding night, and have no desire to ever do so again. I don't care if people regard her as pretty, I find her repulsive.
But enough of my complaining. I was glad to hear that you are enjoying your tour of your estates, especially the ones you'd never had a chance to visit before. I hear that you are going to make Bushey Hall your primary residence after it has been renovated, and that you are going to rechristen it Queen's Hall? Quite a statement, Anne.
Since you asked to be kept abreast of the goings on of the court, I will tell you what I know. The preparations for the king's remarriage continue. The Seymour woman has already been set up in the Queen's apartments, and she's supposedly covered the place with fabrics and the Queen's jewelry as she prepares her trousseau. She spent the early days maintaining a demure appearance, acting as though she hadn't just edged you out of the court and your marriage, but that didn't last when the king started treating her like a favorite pet. It's nauseating, to be honest.
Father and I have both lost a few offices and stewardships to the Seymour men, but it hasn't been as bad as we feared it might be. At least, I don't think it's been too bad. Father has lost both his seat on the Privy Council and his post as Lord Treasurer. He is positively spitting with fury. I still have my spot on the Privy Council, and the king has even invited me to join him on a few of his hunts, so the Boleyns are not completely out of favor.
The Emperor is falling all over himself to congratulate the king on his upcoming marriage, though he – and Chapuys – hasn't been bold enough to state that this is his first legitimate marriage since Katherine. Cromwell and the Seymours are also in favor of an Imperial alliance, at least for the moment. Who knows how long it will last? The Emperor is known for playing games with the king, and it's inevitable that the king will grow offended and then return to the French. Perhaps then there will be another opportunity to negotiate a marriage between Elizabeth and one of King Francis' sons.
Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot, but one of the king's gentlemen of the chamber has disappeared! William Brereton, you know, the quiet one? He abruptly left court without permission and vanished. There was an investigation, under the theory that there might have been a kidnapping or something else nefarious, but no trace of him has been found. It's as though he never existed.
Well, I hope I have filled your mind with enough gossip, sister. Do take every chance you can to enjoy yourself, and then take a moment to think of those of us who are stuck here at court for the foreseeable future.
Your Loving Brother,
George, Viscount R.
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
2 May 1536
Hatfield, I've found, is something like an oasis. Since I arrived here on the twenty-fifth of April, the weather has been perfect – sunny, the heat not overly stifling – and Elizabeth and I have spent as much time as we can out of doors.
Today was the perfect day to spend outside. Carpets were laid out in the gardens and the servants brought out a light selection of food for my ladies and Elizabeth's nurses to enjoy with us. Elizabeth sat with me for a time but eventually wandered off, dragging two of her nurses along to play with her. Given that I had a moment alone with Lady Bryan, I asked her how Elizabeth was handling the recent changes in my status. She assured me that my daughter was doing very well, and that she had explained the situation to Elizabeth in a manner that she seemed to understand.
Elizabeth returned to me at that point, so I didn't have a chance to question Lady Bryan further. I pulled her into my lap, happy to cuddle her close. I hadn't seen her very much in the past several months, as she had been kept away from court for most of my last pregnancy, so I was immensely grateful to be able to spend time with her now. "Hello, my darling girl," I said, "Are you happy?"
She said she was, and she smiled too, but even with all the time we'd spent apart, I know my girl. I thought she had something to say, but didn't want to do so in front of Lady Bryan and all our attendants. I didn't want her to feel as though she couldn't talk to me, so I led her away, ordering the others to remain where they were.
We walked together a distance away, finally coming to a halt in the very center of the garden, where there was a bench. I lifted Elizabeth up onto it, and then sat down next to her. I then proceeded to ask her if something was wrong, if something was bothering her. It took her several moments to answer, and she still clearly looked hesitant. I waited, and finally she worked up the courage to speak.
Her question is one I will never forget.
"Does my papa not love me anymore?"
I felt as though someone had just slapped me. For all his faults and his initial disappointment over her sex, Henry adored Elizabeth. Our love for our daughter is possibly all we have left in common now. Hugging her, I reassured her that of course her papa loved her. She was his special girl, his little princess.
My words didn't reassure her, though, and she demanded to know why he never came to see her anymore, and why he had discarded me. She even stumbled over pronouncing discard. My Elizabeth may be the most brilliant little girl in the world – no one will ever convince me that she isn't – but she isn't even three years old yet. She had to have overheard the word discard; it's hardly a word she'd use on her own. The servants here at Hatfield aren't immune to gossip, and clearly they aren't careful about not being heard by the princess they serve.
I kissed her head and assured her that her papa and I both loved her very, very much, and that Henry was busy protecting the kingdom from people who wished to hurt it – hardly a lie, given that the Emperor, the Pope, and even the King of France are already standing against him. I assured her that he missed her terribly, and that he would no doubt come to visit her as soon as he was able.
Elizabeth seemed more at ease now, reassured of her father's love. I could have avoided her other question, and even knew that she would likely never ask me or anyone else about it again, but I thought it best to be honest with her. I explained to her that her father didn't discard me, and that she must never believe people who say so. Whatever my feelings about Henry, I don't want Elizabeth to ever think that her father would be so cruel to her mama. I managed to tell her that my body was injured when her little brother came too early, and because of that, I couldn't have anymore children. I told her that because her father and I wanted so much for her to have a little brother, we decided it was best that we not be married anymore so Henry could marry again and give her one. A rather simplified explanation, but for someone so young, it will work.
Of course, my daughter never ceases to amaze me. She said, "Lady Mary's my sister. That means we'd both get a brother." She seemed pleased enough by the idea, and I thought that enough had been said on the subject. We walked back to Lady Bryan and the others to call them inside. I felt we'd been out in the sun enough, and had no desire for Elizabeth to become overheated.
As we walked, Elizabeth's nurses took her in hand, I fell back to walk with Lady Bryan and asked her if Lady Mary was well. "Well enough, Your Highness," she said. "She spends much of her time in her chamber praying when she is not attending to her assigned tasks."
I asked if she was there now, to which Lady Bryan said that she was, and that she was assigned to help prepare Elizabeth for dinner, even though Mary didn't dine with the rest of the household. I already knew why that was. I'd received numerous reports in the past of how Mary refused to sit below Elizabeth, doggedly maintaining that it was her right to sit beneath the banner of state as Henry's legitimate daughter. Not even the latest declaration of Elizabeth's legitimacy that came directly from the Archbishop of Canterbury and Henry himself was enough to change her obstinacy.
Making a decision, I told Lady Bryan, "I will speak with Lady Mary in private. She may be late for her duties."
I don't know if I can change anything for the girl, but I shall try. I am so tired of fighting, and the girl deserves some peace as well, which she will never find while she is here being a servant to her sister.
EXCERPT FROM ANNE BOLEYN, QUEEN OF HEARTS, BY DR. NATALIE OLSEN
"Anne Boleyn's stay at Hatfield in April and May 1536 is the one of the few concrete facts that we know of what she was doing after she left the court in February, along with the orders for a renovation of Bushey Hall, soon-to-be Queen's Hall. The Lady Mary, of course, was also in residence at Hatfield, still waiting on Elizabeth. Anne's diary speaks of her plans to speak to Mary, but Anne never writes of the actual encounter. Given the course of events in Mary's life over the next few months, however, one wonders if Anne might have imparted a few words of advice to Mary on how to adapt to her ever-changing situation in life.
In any case, Anne left Hatfield some time after the 2 May entry in her diary, and we know that she had taken up residence at Forsythe Manor, her temporary primary residence, by 18 May due to a dated letter from George Boleyn sent to the estate. […]"
LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM GEORGE BOLEYN, VISCOUNT ROCHFORD
18 May 1536
The king is to marry on the morrow. By the time you receive this, it will indeed likely already have happened. He attempted to keep the matter quiet, but it inevitably got out. The Seymours and their allies are already counting the silver, and Suffolk is being particularly insufferable.
I'm sorry, dearest.
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
19 May 1536
He actually did it. I knew that he fancied that whore, and I knew that she was the principle candidate to marry him, but in my heart, I'd hoped he'd never actually do it. A foreign princess I could accept, but her? She killed my son!
How could he? How could he?
EXCERPT OF A LETTER TO SIR ANTHONY KNIVERT FROM CHARLES BRANDON, DUKE OF SUFFOLK
19 May 1536
My Old Friend,
I hope this letter finds you well, and was sorry to hear that you couldn't return to court. The king has married Jane Seymour, and seems quite happy with himself and his new bride, and she him. They danced and focused on each other so intently that I don't think they even noticed anyone else around them. Gone is the king's previous low spirits that came on him when Anne left Whitehall for Hertfordshire.
The entire court has been determined to make the festivities as happy for the king and queen as possible, if only to drown out the sneers and grumblings coming from outside the palace. Ever since the announcement of the divorce was made, the people have been speaking against the king, but mostly against Queen Jane. They keep muttering that Jane caused Anne's miscarriage, enticing the king when she knew the queen was looking for her husband, and they truly believe the king was cruel enough to cast Anne off and blame her for the baby's death. It's rather shocking, when considering at her coronation, the people couldn't be enticed to cheer the woman, no matter what bribes they were offered. Now they paint her with the same brush they painted Queen Katherine.
Nonetheless, everyone has been resolved to treat this as a fresh start. My dearest wife thinks that Queen Jane will make the king happy, and I say that with God's help, we'll all be happy now. Anne is gone, vanished into Hertfordshire to hoard the rewards she wrested from Henry in compensation for agreeing to the divorce. She's living on enough wealth to feed a family of ten, and even managed to keep the title of princess for her child. Of course, still no thought is made for the Lady Mary, still languishing away at Hatfield as a servant for Elizabeth. Nonetheless, Queen Jane is known to be very fond of Mary, so it's to be hoped that the young lady's situation will improve in the near future.
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
4 June 1536
My dear Jane had her first interview with one of the foreign ambassadors today. She behaved in the sweet, modest way that I so admire about her, and yet I couldn't help but be a little disappointed. I brought Chapuys to visit her, and then left the two of them to speak alone, since Jane needs to know how to handle diplomats even when I am not present.
Chapuys' tongue was as warm and golden as ever, complimenting her to the skies, though that I cannot blame him for. Jane is a true jewel of womanhood, everything a man would love to have in a wife. However, he soon moved onto the subject of my eldest daughter, saying that Jane will have gained a devoted daughter without the pain of childbirth, one whom she will find even dearer to her than her own children. Jane promised to continue to show favor to Mary, and do all that she could to further her interests and live up to the title of 'peacemaker' that Chapuys and even the Emperor have given her. Jane clearly needs further instruction on how to deal with foreigners, such as not to promise things that will not be in her power to do. Jane has no say in Mary's condition; Mary herself alone is responsible for it. It speaks well of my wife that she wants to be kind to my illegitimate daughter, but why didn't she speak up on behalf of my legitimate heir as well?
I also quite dislike the implication that Mary, who behaves as a miserable, disobedient wretch, would be even dearer to Jane than any children we might have. It's ridiculous, a bastard being held in higher esteem than a legitimate child!
I ended their interview then, calling Chapuys away to talk with me. I asked him to forgive Jane, since this new life is all very strange and different from what she knew before our marriage. The ambassador was not at all perturbed, however, saying that he finds her quite the natural in her new duties. We spoke for several minutes more, and I believe I made it quite clear to him that while Jane was my wife and a perceived 'peacemaker', she has no influence on my policies and the decisions I make as both a king and as head of my family. Katherine and Anne both wielded their share of influence when they stood as my queen, but I have no need of any kind of partner in ruling anymore. I need a woman who will give me a son. Katherine failed because of the invalidity of our marriage in God's eyes and Anne… I don't want to think of Anne right now. Elizabeth was all she gave me, and while my dear girl is my heir presumptive, I need a son. That is Jane's primary duty; that is what I need from her the most.
Surely she understands that.
EXCERPT FROM A FULL HOUSE: THE MADNESS OF LADY JANE ROCHFORD, BY DR. ROBERT RIVINGTON
"Jane's unhappy marriage is thought to have contributed to her strong dislike of Anne, possibly because of the close relationship between Anne and George. She may even have believed that with Anne's departure, George would bestow more attention on her. This was not the case, as George continued to despise her. Courtiers have written of how George vigorously continued to find his pleasures outside of his wife's bed, refusing to sleep with her even for the sake of having an heir, much to Wiltshire's dismay.
So that Jane joined the household of her sister-in-law's successor should come as no surprise, if she was looking to spite the family for the unhappiness she believed they had caused her. […]"
JANE SEYMOUR'S DIARY
7 June 1536
I welcomed two new ladies to my household today – Lady Ursula Misseldon and Lady Jane Rochford. Lady Misseldon is a pretty young lady, and seemed an open and kind woman. I wonder how long that will last, for the court has a corrupting influence. I asked one of my other ladies to help Lady M settle in while I spoke privately with Lady R.
I admit I was hesitant to accept her into my household. She's the wife of Wiltshire's only son, and I suspected her of being W's attempt to employ a spy among my ladies. When I mentioned this to Edward, however, he said I should accept her anyway. He said it was common knowledge that Lord R despised his wife. He believes she could become a useful ally, if her hatred for the Boleyns is as strong as he thinks it is and will become.
It did not take much to get Lady R to confide in me. She feels utterly abandoned in the wake of the Duchess of Pembroke's departure from court. Lady R and Her Grace were never close, and she is not on good terms with the rest of her husband's family. I could see the shame and unhappiness on her face, and could not help but pity her. I don't know what I'd do if I'd been married off to such a cruel and ruthless family.
I assured her that she was not at fault for the failings of her husband's family, and told her I had decided to appoint her my principle lady-in-waiting. She was so pathetically grateful that I had offered her a place in my household that I wanted to comfort her as though she was a little child, the poor thing.
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
28 June 1536
The renovations are going well. The architect and the stewards have all assured me they will be finished with everything come October, which will hopefully allow for enough time for my household to be moved in before the weather grows too atrocious. Nan and I have even begun to make tentative plans to host my family at Queen's Hall for the holidays in December. I should love to have Elizabeth here with me for Christmastide, and my family too. Even Father, who continues to grumble about my letting go of being Queen in his letters to me.
I admit that I have been lonely these past several weeks. Elizabeth remains at Hatfield, George and Father at court. Nan is still with me, of course, but Madge is Lady Norris now and busy being a stepmother to Henry Norris' children.
I miss my sister. We have not spoken or even exchanged letters since she revealed her marriage to Sir William Stafford and she was banished from court. How foolish was I, to allow my father to bully me into exiling one of my few allies? Mary and I have been together for much of our lives, and even now it's difficult to not have her with me. Perhaps… perhaps it's time to see if I have burned that bridge completely, or if there is still hope of preserving it.
LETTER TO EUSTACE CHAPUYS, SPANISH AMBASSADOR, FROM LADY MARY TUDOR
28 June 1536
I fear I must request your presence here at Hatfield. I have had a visit from Sir Francis Bryan at the behest of the King, once again commanding that I sign articles recognizing my parents' marriage as incestuous, my own illegitimacy, my father's right to be the head of the church, and renouncing His Holiness. I refused, as I always do, but this time I was subjected to veiled threats from Sir Francis upon my person if I did not do as His Majesty commands. He even stated that if I were his daughter, he would bash my head against the wall until it was as soft as a boiled egg! It was horrible, and I feared he might well lay violent hands on me, but then he stepped back and left.
I do not like to think that the King would authorize any of his men to harm me, but I also cannot think that Sir Francis, known for being an intelligent man, would not issue such vile words if he did not have His Majesty's approval.
Please, come to see me, dear friend. I need your most excellent advice.
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
29 June 1536
My frustration knows no bounds, and I was in such good spirits at first! I had been making plans for Jane's coronation, a magnificent event that will finally put paid to all of those malicious whispers about Jane and her supposedly hounding Anne off the throne. If I wasn't having her and her family watched, I would suspect that the Boleyns were stirring the pot, refusing to let the rumors die.
During our evening meal, the first one we had shared with for the day, as I had been busy with other matters at breakfast and dinner, I was telling Jane of my plans for her coronation. She seemed mildly interested, but then changed the subject. Apparently she had heard of my plans to finally bring my eldest daughter to heel, and begged me not to, to leave the girl alone.
I still cannot believe it. Did she truly not understand that to allow Mary to continue to disobey me only ferments rebellion within the realm? As long as she is treated delicately, people will continue to believe that they too can disobey me. I spoke quietly into her ear, as I did not wish for everyone to know of my anger, and ordered her to not speak of such things again.
Anne understood, perhaps even before I did. She knew that allowing Mary's rebellion set a dangerous precedent, even when I was still hoping that Mary could be prevailed upon to see reason. Only now do I see that Anne was right, that for the sake of the stability of my country, I have to be firm with Mary, to treat her as I would any other person who refuses to yield to their lord and king.
Jane doesn't understand that at all, too caught up in her sympathy for a child she sees as ill-used. Perhaps that is another reason why I don't accord her the same latitude as I did with Anne. For all her high-strung behavior when severely stressed and upset, Anne was a warrior in her own way. She knew when a person had to be hard, where Jane doesn't.
I must stay the course. I can only pray that Mary doesn't force me to send her down the same path so many others walked. I have no desire to have my daughter's blood stain a scaffold.
EXCERPT OF A LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM GEORGE BOLEYN, VISCOUNT ROCHFORD
5 July 1536
Shocking news! It seems that the Lady Mary has finally signed the Oath! Her submission was sent to Cromwell only three days ago, and the king is quite pleased. So pleased, in fact, that he has had escorted from Hatfield to Hunsdon, and even ordered Cromwell to begin setting up a small household for her.
If the king is pleased, the Seymour woman is even more so. According to our uncle's spies in the household, she has been fretting hugely on what gift to give the girl, acting as though Mary is of higher rank than her.
JANE SEYMOUR'S DIARY
5 July 1536
Oh, thanks be to God! Lady Mary has signed the Oath! I was so afraid of what might happen to her if she did not, and I knew I could do nothing to protect her. Now there is nothing to worry about, for she is safe! Thank God!
I have been of the mind to send her a gift, to assure her of my love and friendship, but was undecided as to what to actually send her, and shortly before the midday meal, I asked Lady R's opinion on the subject and mentioned how much I was looking forward to meeting the young pri woman. Lady R then asked me if I wished to get something for Princess Elizabeth as well, or if I would rather wait until a time closer to the little girl's birthday.
It was a legitimate question, but I admit that I try not to think of the girl too much who, though she hasn't visited her father in several months, is still the king's heir until I bear him a son. She is being raised more and more by her mother, who no longer has the duties of a Queen of England to keep them apart. I'm afraid, I think, of what Elizabeth might become, being raised by a woman whose hatred of me is almost legendary. If I don't have a boy and Elizabeth succeeds her father, I know I will be at Anne's mercy, which is negligible. If she doesn't have her daughter execute me on some trumped up charge, I don't doubt that I'll be poisoned or gotten rid of in some other subtle manner.
Lady R interrupted my increasingly fearful thoughts, suggesting some kind of jewel for the Lady Mary, since she is only just now being granted funds enough to support a king's daughter. I agreed with the suggestion, as well as putting off getting any kind of gift for Elizabeth until her birthday. I must focus on the here and now, and try not to worry overly about the future, which is in God's hands.
No matter how afraid I am.
LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM LADY MARY STAFFORD
15 July 1536
Your Most Gracious Highness,
I must say, I was surprised to receive your letter of inquiry, but it was a pleasant one nonetheless. My husband and I do quite well here upon our small estate. It is not a grand thing, nothing I could have had if I had held out for a higher man, but I would not trade it for all the palaces in England. Nor do I think my husband would turn me away to be a king.
We have two children now, a girl, Anne Stafford, who is now two years old, and a son, Edward, who will reach his first birthday at the end of August. Both are bonny and healthy, and I know no people who could possibly be dearer to my husband and me.
We have heard much of the change in your circumstances, Your Highness, and I wish to convey my support to you. It is no easy thing, to give up what you have. I hope you have found solace in your new life, however, and are not overly vexed.
I would indeed like to hear more from you, if that be your desire to write to me.
Lady Mary Stafford
DIARY OF HENRY VIII
1 August 1536
Jane and I made the trip to Hunsdon today, to visit Mary. I was awed at how beautiful she looked. She has grown so much, and so much has been missed. My pearl is an adult now. She looked up at me only when I lifted her head to meet my gaze, and I easily saw her apprehension. I wanted then nothing more than to take her into my arms, just like I used to when she was child.
I was very pleased at how quickly Mary and Jane took to one another. Jane's gentle demeanor is exactly what Mary needs right now. Before we left, I gave her a note for a thousand crowns, so that she might continue to outfit her household and pay her servants their wages.
As Jane and I were born to back Richmond, though, I began to think. Mary is twenty years old now. Twenty years have passed since she was born and I still don't have a son! I was twenty-five when she was born, and now I am forty-five. How many more years do I have left? If I have a son by the end of next year, I'll be fortunate to live to see my boy reach the age of ten, and I remember too well the phrase, "Woe betide the nation whose king is a child." That has been proved true over and over throughout England's history. Henry III was a boy when his father died, and his mother had to crown him with one of her bracelets. Edward III was a young boy in his teens, and he spent his early years being ruled by his mother and her lover, both of whom had his father murdered. Richard II, Henry VI, Edward V, who was my mother's brother, all of them began as child-kings who came to violent ends. Henry III and Edward III survived to reign for many years, but they were merely the exception, not the rule. Is that the fate of my son, who hasn't even been born yet? If just one of my sons with Anne had lived, then at least they would at least already have started on their lives. Instead, I am still left with nothing, and it frightens me more than I can bear.
My mood was soured for the rest of the day, even when I sat down to eat with Jane. She was full of chatter about Mary, but I wasn't very receptive, only giving her the vaguest of responses. Finally, Jane grew concerned and asked why I wouldn't speak to her. I was in no mood to obfuscate, and told her that I was disappointed that she was not yet with child. The physicians had examined her numerous times since our marriage and pronounced her perfectly fertile, but there has been not a single sign of a child. Katherine and Anne both didn't take this long to become pregnant when we began marital relations.
What if I gave Anne up for nothing? What if I'm not intended to have a son? Is Jane's barrenness a sign of God's displeasure?
EXCERPT FROM A LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM LADY MARY STAFFORD
7 August 1536
My Dear Sister,
Thank you for your letter and the gift you sent for my son's approaching birthday. I think he shall have much enjoyment of the toys you have sent for him.
As per your invitation to join you at Queen's Hall for Christmastide, I have spoken of the matter with my husband. William is not against such a visit, though he does worry about traveling at such a time of year. In any case, I could not travel at such a time and be away from my little ones. Perhaps we should arrange a time to meet again after the new year, if you still wish to see me?
EXCERPT OF A LETTER TO GEORGE BOLEYN, VISCOUNT ROCHFORD, FROM QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE
7 September 1536
Elizabeth's birthday here at Hatfield was lovely. She loved all of the gifts that you and Father sent, and asked that I say thank you for her and that she misses you both. Everyone at Hatfield fussed and played with her all day, and she loved every minute of it. I was thrilled to be able to spend this day with her, especially since I missed her first and second birthdays.
The king, his wife, and Lady Mary all sent gifts for Elizabeth as well, but I admit, I was rather put out that Henry wouldn't come out to Hatfield to spend it with Elizabeth on her special day. He and his wh wife can take the time to visit Lady Mary at Hunsdon, but they can't do the same for the heir presumptive of this country? It shows all the signs of favoritism, at least on that woman's part. With Henry, who knows why he couldn't take the time to visit his three-year-old daughter and heir on her birthday?
LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM LADY MARY STAFFORD
8 September 1536
Please forgive the delay in my writing back to you. My children were both ill these past weeks and my attention has been focused on them and their recovery. Both are doing very well now, thanks be to God.
I must thank you for the offer of your carriages to transport me and my family to Queen's Hall for Christmastide. My husband has no further objections, and so we will certainly look forward to seeing you come December.
I must ask, though, how will our Father take my presence? He made it clear to me that he wanted nothing further to do with me after my marriage, and I have no wish to ruin the celebrations with a scene, as much as I would love to see you and our brother.
Please wish my royal niece a happy birthday from her aunt, and that I hope to see her at Christmastide.
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
14 October 1536
Those bastard ingrates! How dare they rebel against their rightful lord and master? I'll have their heads! I'll have their bodies laid out at Tyburn for the birds to peck at!
This is Cromwell's fault! He swore to me that the people were glad to see the monasteries dissolved, to see the moneys go to the task of enriching the kingdom rather than lining the pockets of corrupt friars and bishops. He is either completely out of touch with the people, or he lied to me. Either way, if this doesn't end well, I will have his head on a pike!
I've ordered that Charles go north to deal with him, demanding that the leaders be brought to him with halters around their necks. I've warned everyone, if my demand is not met, I will annihilate the North, and then I will take Cromwell apart, piece by bloody piece if I have to.
Damn these bastards!
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
14 October 1536
My household has spent the past week moving all our possessions into Queen's Hall. Just as promised, the renovations were completed in early October, and the weather has held long enough for everyone and everything to be moved from Forsythe Manor. Everything was turning out just fine. I was even planning to invite Elizabeth to stay with me in my new home for a time, so that we might have some time together.
At tonight's evening meal, my ladies and I were enjoying a hearty repast, accompanied by dear Smeaton's lovely music. We were all exhausted from our continuous work, but were still taking pleasure in our time together, when suddenly the doors flew open to reveal a messenger.
The young man hurried toward me, barely even pausing to pay proper reverence, and handed me the letter he carried. It was from my father, who was full of news of a fierce northern rebellion. They are unhappy about the closing of their monasteries, as well as Lady Mary being displaced from the succession in Elizabeth's favor.
I admit, I sympathize with them over the losing of their monasteries. I recall the early reports Cromwell had gathered and had remember noticing that, by far, the majority of the corrupt monasteries lay in the southern reaches of the kingdom. In the north, the monasteries were known to perform their tasks and were at the heart of their local communities, helping to keep them running. Now the northerners are calling for Cromwell's head, calling him the Devil's servant. I warned him that something like this would happen if he continued on the path of destroying all of the monasteries. Now he's reaping what he's sewn.
However, my sympathy is far outweighed by my fury. How dare these commoners presume to think they have any voice on the succession, which is the purview of the king alone. It was proven that Henry's marriage with Katherine was invalid, and thus Lady Mary is illegitimate. As distressing as that is, for both her and for the people who have called her a princess for so many years, it is a fact. My marriage with Henry was a valid one, thus making Elizabeth legitimate. She is Henry's heir unless the Seymour woman can be prevailed upon to give Henry a boy. Even I wouldn't dispute it, no matter how much it galls me to think that I might one day have to bow to a son of hers.
I also worry about how Henry will react to this rebellion. He has never had to deal with a full-scale uprising before. Father told me that the closest to an open revolt that Henry has ever faced was Buckingham's attempted coup d'etat, which was crushed before it could even really begin. Henry has never taken well to being opposed, and I fear that his increasing age will only make him even more belligerent. I think that there will be a massive slaughter before this ends, especially given how he reacted to those who refused to sign the Oath of Succession. If Henry won't spare a good friend like Thomas More, he will have no mercy on the people of the north.
JANE SEYMOUR'S DIARY
30 October 1536
The king is unwell. His jousting wound has flared up again, leaving him in great agony. I worry for him, especially given the rioters in the north protesting the closing of their religious houses. They are a simple people, wishing only to maintain the traditions that have brought them so much comfort over the centuries. If only the king and Master Cromwell weren't so determined to destroy the monasteries and claim their treasures.
Not that many of the people here at court feel this way. The reformers and heretics have taken hold of this place, and refuse to see the harm they are doing to the common people of England. Lady R, for all her hatred of her husband's family, shares their reformist sympathies, and said something I shan't forget when we were discussing the subject: "These rebels are nothing more than villainous traitors who want to return us to the days of ignorance and superstition."
It saddens me that so many people feel this way, that the Catholic faith is being so maligned, but I dare not say so out loud, not even to my principle lady-in-waiting. So instead, I changed the subject, asking for her assistance in arranging for a surprise to cheer the king in his weakened state. I think he should welcome a visit from the Lady Mary.
LETTER TO QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE, FROM GEORGE BOLEYN, VISCOUNT ROCHFORD
8 November 1536
The king continues his raging, despite the pain he currently endures from the reopening of his leg wound, or, perhaps he rages because of it. He consistently threatens to teach the rebels a 'fearful, bloody lesson in slaughter', while also lamenting the fact that Suffolk and Shrewsbury only complain about their lack of supplies and their inability to attack the villains without proper support.
It is times like this that I truly miss your presence at court, sister. For all your own fiery temper that so easily matched the king's, you also had the uncanny ability to calm him from his rages. Queen Jane exerts no such influence, and her position remains weak due to her lack of being with child. Even her brothers are oft ignored by the king these days because their sister has yet to fulfill the king's single greatest desire.
I know you refuse to come to court as long as Jane sits beside the king, Anne, but are you certain I cannot convince you to come anyway? The king might very well welcome your council, given his disgust with his current councilors. Cromwell, like the Seymours, is also in a bit of disgrace, and there are few other people that His Majesty trusts. This could be your moment to regain some influence.
I hope you remain well.
George, Lord R
EXCERPT FROM ANNE BOLEYN, QUEEN OF HEARTS, BY DR. NATALIE OLSEN
"There is a wealth of correspondence between Anne and her family during this time period, mostly with her brother, George. There is only one letter, however, between Anne and Henry, leading historians to conclude that either the rest of their correspondence was destroyed, or the two of them were deliberately not writing to one another, instead using an intermediary. The latter theory also seems unlikely, given that Cromwell would be the likely intermediary, and he kept meticulous records. That there is no record of any letters passing between him and Anne leads most historians to conclude that, apart from her keeping in touch with her family, Anne avoided contact with the court, and especially with Henry."
EXPRESS TO HIS MAJESTY, HENRY VIII, FROM QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE
10 November 1536
Your Most Gracious Majesty,
I beg you to forgive me for writing you during such a crucial, chaotic time, but I have heard of the treasonous surrender of Pontefract Castle by Lord Darcy to the rebels. I was most alarmed when I received word of it, as I recall you once telling me of the immense strategic importance of that fortress, and how it is the gateway to the southern reaches of the kingdom.
In that vein, I wish to know if you had any special commands for how I should conduct myself in light of this dreadful news. Given that Hertfordshire is in the path of the rebels should they choose to march on London, would you wish for me to take our daughter, Her Highness Princess Elizabeth, to Hever, my family's estate in Kent? Such a place is much further out of the rebels' reach, and her safety would be much better assured there.
I await your orders and I am at your disposal.
Queen Anne, Duchess of Pembroke
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
19 November 1536
Jane arranged a wonderful surprise for me in inviting Mary to come to visit us at court. She arrived in a full state befitting a child of mine, and looked lovelier than ever. We met in the center of the court, with all of the courtiers surrounding us, and I took the opportunity to chastise those who had urged me to put her to death for her earlier disobedience. I don't think that she truly thought that the subjects of this kingdom had actually urged her death, and to know that she was wrong very much frightened her. She began to collapse from the terror, but I caught her in my arms and assured her that she was perfectly safe, that no one would ever harm her. We then spent some hours together ere I was forced to leave her to Jane's attentions.
Unfortunately, the rest of my day was not so pleasant. Sir Ralph Neville and Mr. John Constable both arrived at court to treat with me on behalf of Robert Aske and the other rebels. I soundly berated them for their unholy disobedience to their anointed king, though they swear that they mean no slight against me personally, only my 'evil councilors' who seek to destroy their way of life. Cromwell proved himself incapable of keeping himself quiet and also added his censure, which did nothing other than to add fuel to their intransigence.
That night, I lay in bed with Jane. Her presence had soothed me after meeting with the villains, but just as I was about to drift off to sleep, Jane began to speak, pleading with me to end the violence by restoring and keeping the northern abbeys. Any contentment I had gained by then instantly melted away, and I reminded her of my warning her not to meddle in my affairs. She did not speak again, but I didn't stop. The words were out of my mouth before I could fully consider them, but I told Jane that I loved her more than any other wife before her, and scolded her, telling her not to spoil my love. However, as I said the words, something inside of me seemed to almost twist rebelliously against the sentiments of which I spoke.
In those moments, all I could see before me was Anne. In those few scant moments, no one else existed. Not Katherine, not Jane, no one. I remembered her the first time I saw her, standing next to my sister in that masque, so young and fresh. I remembered her the first time we laid together, in France. I think we even conceived our Elizabeth there around that time. I remember our marriage, her coronation, how beautiful and beloved she was to me. My Anne.
Of course, even with all that I loved about Anne came her less desirable traits. Her jealousy, her inability to behave as a queen should and ignore the times I chose to take to the bed of another when hers was unavailable to me, and her hysteria. It was when I was enduring this less than endearing side of her that Jane came into my life. Jane's gentleness and sweetness was like a balm, the most soothing of remedies. How I had loved her mild, kind manners, so different from Anne's turbulent temper!
Now, though, I recognize what I could not see then. For all that Anne's frenzies drove me away, it was her passion that drew me back to her, more than once over the years. I care tenderly for Jane, but I have none the passion for her that I had for Anne.
I miss her… temper and all.
God help me.
LETTER TO THOMAS HOWARD, DUKE OF NORFOLK, FROM QUEEN ANNE, DUCHESS OF PEMBROKE
2 December 1536
My Lord Uncle,
I received word from Lady Bryan that Elizabeth has been granted an invitation to join the king at court for Christmastide. I had hoped to have her visit me at Queen's Hall at this time, so that she might spend some time with the rest of the Boleyns, but the king's wishes are not to be gainsaid. In that light, I hoped that I might ask you a favor?
My father informed me that you will be present at court for the festivities, and since you will be there, could I prevail upon you to observe how my daughter is treated by the court, and most especially the king's wife? This will be the first time that Elizabeth has visited the court since my separation from the king, and I am concerned about how his new wife will behave toward her. If you could write to me detailing her treatment, I will be most grateful.
Please send my love to Mistress Holland and wishes for an excellent holiday.
Your Beloved Niece,
Queen Anne, Duchess of Pembroke
ANNE BOLEYN'S DIARY
25 December 1536
Mary at last arrived here today at Queen's Hall, her family in tow. I cannot begin to describe how happy I was to see her. Having not seen her for over two years, I was uncertain how much she might have changed, now being a mother and a wife to a man she well and truly esteems. However, she is not overly altered, aside from being full of happy light and love. She is, I see, truly cherished by her husband and children, and loves them all just as much in return.
William Stafford is more stoic than Mary, but I have only to watch him watch her to see the love that shines in his eyes. He may not be overly demonstrative in his affections, but they are no less real. I think that Mary has done well in her choice of husband, certainly far better than Sir William Carey, who was chosen for her by Henry and our father once the king had tired of her being his mistress.
Their children are quite adorable as well. Young Anne, my namesake, is an adorable imp, and Mary says that she looks much as I did at that age. Little Edward, however, is entirely his father's son in appearance, though that might change as he grows older.
Father, as I warned Mary, was not the most gracious as he could have been toward them, but I had warned him before they arrived that he was to behave with dignity in my house, and I would tolerate no insults to my sister or her husband.
"She was cast out of our family," he kept arguing.
Finally I snapped in return, "By you, perhaps, but not by me! I was wrong to turn my back on her simply for marrying the man she loved, especially when she had been fortunate enough to be able to do so, in light of the reputation you pressured her into cultivating."
He remained taciturn and somewhat surly, but was not overly insulting was probably the best I could expect. My sister-in-law, who accompanied Father and George from court, was quiet on the subject, but that was a blessing. None of us wanted to know Jane's opinion anyway. George, on the other hand, was as happy as I to see Mary. We were always close, and it was wonderful to be together again.
I had opened Elizabeth's chambers for Mary to use for her own children, since my daughter was spending Christmastide with her father at court. I even hired two temporary nurses to look after young Anne and Edward while Mary was with the rest of us. I was sparing no expense for Mary's visit, and wanted everything to be perfect.
After Mary and I had seen to the children being settled, we were given a moment to ourselves. She just looked at me in that manner that she had always had – open, sweet, and kind, and I felt tears begin to sting my eyes. I couldn't help but whisper her name, and she said, "Oh Anne, dearest Anne," and just like that, we were in each other's arms.
I must have been breathing apologies for my appalling behavior into her ear, because after a moment, she pulled back and said to me, "Darling, I forgave you long ago. All is well now."
Her words were such a relief, lifting a weight that had been on my chest for so long that I had forgotten what it was to lift without it. My sister had forgiven me. I do not think even the forgiveness of God for my many sins could matter more to me.
The supper the family shared that evening went fairly well too, thankfully. My cooks had outdone themselves, and we all ate heartily.
Mary was happy to sing the praises of her home in Staffordshire. Stafford's estate, Chebsey, was not particularly large or wealthy, but to hear my sister speak of it, it might as well be a palace with the most exquisite land in all of Europe around it. She was so proud of her husband's management of the estate, and stated that it was the perfect size for the family.
Father snorted into his soup, but none of us paid him any mind. George and I in particular were enjoying our sister's tales of her home, and we were both glad to see her so happy. Neither George nor I had been overly happy in our married lives, so to know that at least one of the three of us had managed a marriage that suited our tastes was of some consolation.
I did ask if I had disrupted any plans Mary and Stafford might have had for this time of year with my invitation, as I was so eager to fill my house with family during the holidays, but Stafford said that they were honored to receive my gracious invitation. I'm fairly certain I heard some sarcasm in his tone, which makes me think that while Mary has forgiven me of turning my back on her, her husband has yet to do so.
Father, of course, just couldn't keep his peace. He said, "If you were so eager to be around people, Anne, then you should have come to court."
I wanted to slap him. George had made the suggestion that I return to court in a letter some months ago, when the northern rebellion began, but I had quite succinctly refused. I said to Father that I could not possibly impose upon the king and his new wife for their first Christmas together, but truly I wouldn't go because it would mean bowing and making way for that woman. I had accepted Henry's marriage to her on paper, but I refused to do any more than what was required of me out here in the country. I even obtained gifts for them and for Lady Mary, and sent them along with Elizabeth when she went to court. That's enough.
Aware of the uncomfortable silence that had settled over us, George began to speak of the current politics. It seems that Henry invited Robert Aske to join the court for the Christmas festivities, so as to give the impression that he is willing to humoring the rebels. George, though, thinks that it is only a matter of time before the king will disabuse them of any notion that he will treat with them.
I was hardly any more pleased with this subject than I was with the last one. All it did was serve to remind me that, if not for my baby boy's death, I would still be at court, right in the middle of everything, where I could be of some use.
Thankfully, Stafford spoke up and distracted George with talk of the horses he was breeding. That served to keep the rest of us all occupied for the rest of the meal.
THE DIARY OF HENRY VIII
25 December 1536
The celebrations at court were delightful this year. There was little indication of the rebellion and all the stresses it brought, aside from the presence of Robert Aske, who spent most of the evening making himself as unobtrusive as possible. I had Mary and Jane with me, and our party was almost complete as we watched the dancing while waiting for the last of our guests to arrive.
Finally, the court crier announced the arrival of the one I was waiting for. "Her Royal Highness, the Princess Elizabeth!"
The entire court seemed to grow quiet as Elizabeth appeared. She walked as swiftly as her legs would allow her, not looking at the people around her or paying them any kind of mind. I, on the other hand, noted the slight hesitation on the part of some people to bend at the knee to my heir, and made a note to put speak with a few people later about it. I will tolerate no insult on my daughter's dignity. I quickly put that out of my mind, though, when I focused on Elizabeth.
She was beautiful, even more so than my memories suggested. It was then I realized that it could be no other way, since I hadn't seen her in over a year, not since that impromptu party thrown at Wolf Hall after Katherine's death, when I first invited Sir John to bring Jane to court. Elizabeth had grown quite a bit since then, and was lovely. With all the changes that had come about this year – my separation from Anne, marrying Jane, and our new life together – had hardly left Elizabeth high in my thoughts, which was wrong, I thought with some guilt. Jane and I had made time more than once for Mary, visiting her at Hunsdon and inviting her to come to court. Surely it was no hardship to do the same for Elizabeth?
Lady Bryan, who had accompanied her charge and was a step behind her, began to introduce Elizabeth, but I waved her off. There was no need to tell me who my own child was. Elizabeth's appearance, though, continued to marvel me. Her eyes alone were enough to mark her as Anne's child, but it was the rest of her appearance that struck me. The round, full face, her red hair that cascaded past her shoulders, all marked her as a Tudor. More than once I have heard people compare her to my mother, her namesake, Elizabeth of York, but I saw someone else in that polite gaze that hid a mischievous personality.
I saw Margaret in my daughter. It was almost uncanny, the similarities.
Elizabeth broke the silence and my thoughts by greeting me in pretty French. I smiled, delighted. It seemed that, even with our having been apart, her education had not been neglected. I imagine I have Anne to thank for that. I responded in French as well, and then held out my arms to her. She broke into a wide, happy smile and nearly ran into my embrace, much as she had done when we were last together at Wolf Hall. I lifted her up into my lap, happily cuddling her close and kissing her cheek. I then looked up at my courtiers, many of whom were smiling, and proclaimed, "Je suis en famille!"
Everyone was delighted and applause exploded through the hall. I took that moment to look to my left and noticed a potential problem. Mary was seated there, and there was no additional chair for Elizabeth, though, truthfully, Mary should be the one to make way. I had no desire to push my elder daughter off of the dais, though. Why had there not been another chair placed there? It was no secret that Elizabeth had been invited to join us this year.
Thankfully, Mary was quick to address the problem and called for another chair to be brought. Once it was placed next to the one she was sitting in, Mary stood up and stepped over to it. I then stood briefly to place Elizabeth in the chair Mary vacated, and moments later, all four of us were comfortably seated. I was rather grateful for Mary's quick movements, and that there hadn't been a scene.
I was about to wave for the music to begin again when Elizabeth asked, "May I present gifts, Papa?"
I admit, I was surprised that the little one had thought to bring gifts. At her age, most children think only of receiving gifts. Still, I saw no harm in indulging her and agreed. She then waved her hand in a most elegant manner – no doubt copied from Anne – and a group of footmen stepped forward. Elizabeth then told me that these gifts were not from her, but from her mama. I was shocked. I had not expected Anne to send anything at all, but she had astonished me. There was a pair of expensive silver goblets for me and Jane, and a beautiful pearl jewelry set had been given to Mary. I was rather touched that Anne had sent something for Mary, and was pleased to see that some kind of peace had been reached between my eldest child and the mother of my heir presumptive.
I made a point of telling Elizabeth that I found the gifts lovely, and asked Jane if she agreed. She did, of course, and stated that we must send a letter of thanks to 'Her Grace'. I frowned a bit at this lesser form of address than what Anne was entitled to, but said nothing, not wanting to upset Elizabeth.
After these gifts were presented, Elizabeth wasted no time in calling in the gifts she herself had chosen. Mary and Jane were given some lovely fabrics, and I received an ornate, jeweled dagger. Elizabeth even leaned close and whispered that she had chosen the jewels inlaid in the hilt. She was obviously very proud of her accomplishment. I thanked her effusively, swearing that I would wear it always in the defense of our kingdom.
Mary was also thorough in her thanks, but Jane was quite less so in comparison. Fortunately, Elizabeth didn't notice Jane's lack of enthusiasm. I did resolve to speak to Jane about it. I didn't want her upsetting my youngest daughter during the holidays. Jane knew how to behave better than this.
JANE SEYMOUR'S DIARY
30 December 1536
Edward, it seems, has taken issue with my treatment of Lady Elizabeth. He spent the better part of an hour today scolding me for being so blatant in my 'snubbing' of the girl that even His Majesty noticed and took issue with it. Edward made it clear that I cannot afford to antagonize the king until I finally conceive and bear a healthy son.
I fear the only excuse I could articulate for my brother was that I want the best of everything for the Lady Mary, something I cannot give her so long as the harlot's child resides at court. Unfortunately, I was blunt enough to actually refer to her as 'the harlot's child' out loud, and I think that if I were not the Queen of England, Edward might have struck me. The coldly furious expression on his face was more frightening than Thomas' frequent bursts of hot temper.
Slowly, with clear enunciation, Edward said, "The Lady Mary has publicly resigned herself to being His Majesty's illegitimate child and made way for Princess Elizabeth. I suggest, sister, that you do the same, before the king comes down even harder on you for insulting his heir presumptive."
He left me soon after, and I was left alone to 'resign myself' to the fact that Queen Katherine's daughter, the grandchild of the Catholic Kings, must stand aside for the child of a whore. That child that terrifies me, because of how much she reminds me of her mother.