The woman was ethereal, elegant and a mysterious enigma. Thomas Boleyn knew her well but had never mentioned her existence to any of his children, least of all the youngest, Anne. But here she was, talking to Edward as if they had known each other all of his life. Anne approached the pair cautiously, unsure at first, but with each step her confidence grew until she was right behind her son. The stranger was dressed in the height of French fashion, in a light blue riding habit, but there was no horse in sight. Her hat matched the outfit and her kid gloves appeared to be of the finest English leather. Anne was in a light green dress that accented her pregnancy and her dark hair and eyes.
Edward spoke first to his mother, but his eyes never left his exotic guest. “Good afternoon Mother. Lady Alice told me that you would come and find us.”
Now Anne had a name. Lady Alice... but Lady Alice who? She thought to herself.
“Will you present me to Lady Alice, Edward?” Anne said simply.
“But Majesty, “Lady Alice spoke before Edward could answer. “You know me from your own childhood.” She slowly approached Anne and touched her gently on the cheek. “Remember, little one.” she whispered as if enchanting a spell.
Anne couldn't move. She stood rooted in place as “Lady Alice” touched her cheek and suddenly, she was a little girl again, in the woods near Hever Castle with George and Mary, her siblings. They had found a faerie circle and were playing around it when this woman appeared. She had been kind to the three Boleyn children and gave them each a sweetmeat and sent them on their way. She had also told them all that they had important roles to play when they were older and that she would see them again someday.
“Lady Alice?” Anne inquired. “I remember you when I was about Edward's age... how... “Anne frowned, unsure of how the woman from her childhood did not look like she had aged a day from 1510 to now, 1541.
“That's because she is a faerie princess, Mother.” Edward said plainly. “She has come to help me become King.”
Anne wasn't sure how to respond to that statement but she did remember her manners where guests were concerned. “Would you like to come inside for refreshments, Lady Alice?”
“I would like that.”
Anne led the way, as Lady Alice took Edward's hand in her own and followed. Once inside, Anne called for the servants to bring refreshments in the best crystal and silver plate. She offered Alice her own chair at the table, while Edward climbed up into the chair to Alice's right. Anne sat down next to Edward, on his left, and poured the black elderberry wine into the fine Italian crystal glasses. Once the food had arrived and Lady Alice had eaten her fill, Anne asked the question she'd been dying to ask since she spotted the woman out in the park with Edward. “Why are you here?”
Lady Alice smiled sadly at the question. “I have come because of the tragedy that is to fall upon the House of Boleyn. There is to be a joust in two weeks, to celebrate the birth of your last child. I bear grave news about your husband, Anne.”
Anne looked at Edward. “Edward, why don't you go and play with your brothers and sisters and let Lady Alice and I talk alone.”
“But Mother, this has to do with me, doesn't it?” Edward looked between the two women.
Lady Alice patted the young prince's hand. “I will see you again, Edward. Your mother is right. This is talk for adults. We can't have you growing up too quickly now, lest your innocence be compromised.”
Edward sighed. “As you wish, my lady.” He slid off the chair and scampered off towards the nursery.
Anne watched him go and then turned her attention back to Lady Alice. “What tragedy?”
Lady Alice touched her hand gently. “The King will die from wounds inflicted upon him at the joust. I tell you this now because you have considerable power over Henry. He will listen to you if you want him not to participate.”
“If Henry wants to participate in the joust, there is little I can do about it, Lady Alice.” Anne admitted. “He is still sturdy and well-fit for competition.”
“I have seen his death and the war to come, my child. Mary Tudor will not stand for her half-brother taking her throne and neither will her mother, Katherine of Aragon.”
“How have you seen this terrible thing?” Anne pressed.
“The same way I aided you in capturing the heart of the King in the first place.” Lady Alice said flatly. “Your charms were a gift to you from me when you were just born to my great-grandson, Thomas Boleyn and his wife Elizabeth. I have watched you grow and guided your development to gain you the crown of England. I do not wish to see the Land torn apart by a senseless war.”
Anne paled as she calculated the genealogy that Lady Alice just gave to her, as well as what Edward had said earlier about Lady Alice's origins. “Oh my God.” she breathed and crossed herself.
“I tell you this now because you must convince Henry not to compete in the joust but you cannot tell him how you know or else you will be tried for witchcraft and be executed.”
“Then how do I convince him?”
“Use the charms that I blessed you with and if you are successful, the war can be avoided. If not, then the Land will be plunged into senseless darkness for a time.” Lady Alice stood. “The King is coming now and I must go. He will ascertain my origins far more quickly than you did, my child, and I do not intend to be burned as a witch.” she kissed Anne on the forehead and walked out of the room and disappeared.
Anne grabbed one of the crystal glasses and poured a full glass of the black elderberry wine and gulped it down. Faerie princesses, Henry dying, Civil war... the thoughts flew threw her head at such a rate she didn't hear Henry enter the room until he kissed her on the cheek and broke the spell.
“Good afternoon sweetheart.” he smiled down at her, then sat down in the chair recently vacated by Lady Alice. “Easy on the wine, Anne. You must think of the health of the baby.”
“Of course, my love.” Anne replied, still in a daze.
“I thought to take the children riding this afternoon, maybe get some hunting in.”
Anne shook her head, as if to clear the cobwebs out. “Maybe the boys could go. The girls are working on their stitchery but I am sure that Edward and Thomas would love a chance to spend some time with you.” she rose from her chair. “Would you like to accompany me to the nursery, my lord?”
Henry stood up and took Anne by the arm. “I would be delighted to see our children.”
The King and Queen walked through the hallways and up the stairs to the nursery quarters of Hampton Court manor. The footman standing guard over the nursery and its staff opened the doors for the royal couple and immediately the staff were curtsying to the pair. Inside, the two older boys, Edward and Thomas ages eight and six respectively, were playing with their stick horses and wooden swords, while Elizabeth and Anne, who were eight and four, were working on their sewing. The younger boys, Owen and Henry were only five and three, were playing with blocks. As soon as they saw their parents though, they all stood up and curtsied or bowed depending on their gender.
Henry smiled proudly at his children. “Edward, my son.” He called his eldest to his side as Anne walked over to check the girls' progress on their needlework. “How would you like to take your brother Thomas for riding lessons.”
Thomas didn't look happy at this prospect. Anne saw that look and smiled at Henry. “Your Grace, I believe Thomas has some studying to do before he goes riding. Why don't you and Edward spend some time together.”
“As you wish, Anne.” Henry smiled at his children. “Come along Edward. We can look at getting a bigger pony for you.”
Edward, like any young boy, cheered and ran out of the room, excited at the prospect of a new pony. Henry laughed as the other children went back to their individual projects. He then kissed Anne on the cheek and followed his eldest son out of the nursery. Anne smiled as they left, but her mind was a whirl with what Lady Alice had said. Whatever shall I do? She thought to herself.
For the next week, Anne tried to get Henry's attention to speak to him about the upcoming joust. Unfortunately, there was no time, since Henry had been in meetings with his Privy Council on matters of State. When Anne finally got a chance to talk to Henry, it was the day of the joust, just before the pageantry was to begin.
“Henry, I really need to talk to you about the joust.” Anne began, easing herself into the nearest chair.
Henry turned towards his wife and smiled at her “I know you're worried that something will happen to me, Anne, but I'm fit and ready for this. I promise this will be the last one.”
Anne looked at him with moist eyes, the baby kicking in her belly. “Your leg has been bothering you for some time, Henry. I just don't think that this is a good idea.”
Henry's temper flared. “That's enough, Madame. I will participate in this tournament and nothing you can say will change my mind.” and with that, Henry marched out of the room towards the armory and the squires that awaited him with his armor for the jousting.
It was a beautiful summer's day, the twenty-eighth of July in fifteen hundred and thirty-eight. The ladies of the Court all sat in the high viewing box over the jousting field. Anne was dressed in a lovely light blue gown with a dark underskirt. This event would be Anne's last at court, as her lying in time was scheduled for the next day. Sitting with Anne were Jane Parker, her sister-in-law; Mary Carey, Anne's sister; all of Anne's ladies-in-waiting and the children. Also Charles Brandon's wife Kathryn and her two children, Henry and Charles, were with the Queen in her box. The local population had turned out for this event, always elated to see the gentry and their King.
The armor glimmered brightly in the hot summer sun as the participants got mounted on their heavy desterier horses and got their lances prepared for combat. Charles Brandon and George Boleyn were part of the first group to joust. Their opponents were two younger knights by the names of Sir Matthew Clifford and Sir Clive Bainbridge. Charles rode over to the Queen's Box and raised his lance to his wife, who tied her lady's favor to the lance and blew her husband a kiss. The audience applauded and cheered as Charles rode back to the starting line. The Master of the Tourney called out George Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Sir Matthew Clifford to run the lists. At the drop of the flag, each rider rode hell bent for their opponent, blunted lances lowered towards the shield, in the attempt to knock the other rider off his mount. The hoofs of the horses thundered down the dirt list, kicking up a lot of dust before there was a shattering crash. When the dust cleared, Sir Matthew was lying on the ground, his horse being caught by the squires and the Master of the Tourney declared George Boleyn the winner.
The crowd cheered again as George waved to the gathering. His wife, however, did not cheer for they were estranged at the current time.
The jousting continued well into the afternoon and the challengers were whittled down to just Sir Clive Bainbridge. Then there was a tremendous roar from the crowd as the King himself, Henry the Eighth, rode out to challenge Sir Clive. Henry made his grand entrance and rode over to the Queen's Box, where Anne stood, ungainly from her pregnancy, and tied her favor on the King's lance, showing her favor for her lord and master.
Henry blew a kiss to his wife and made his way over to his starting place, his lead squire holding the horse's head until the Master of the Tournament called for the combatants to take their places.
Sir Clive took his place at the other end of the tilt yard, his horse pawing the ground impatiently, thrashing his head back and forth in anxious anticipation. Henry tightened his grip on the reins of his horse and waited the dropping of the flag, signaling the participants to charge.
The crowd held their breath, as they too waited for the signal flag to fall. Anne didn't realize that she was holding her breath until the silken emblem was dropped and the horses surged ahead. Anne grabbed Mary's hand and squeezed tightly as the horses rumbled down the field, dust swirling at their hooves. Henry lowered his lance about half a second before Sir Clive did, but the King's shield was not secure on his left arm as the lance was in his right. Anne gasped as she saw the shield fall away from the King and crash onto the ground below. Sir Clive's lance hit just at the King's hip, spinning Henry in the saddle and dumping him unceremoniously on his ass. When Sir Clive pulled up his lance, there was blood on the broken end of the blunt weapon. Then, if the King falling off his horse wasn’t bad enough, the horse stumbled in the mud and the muck and fell on top of Henry. Anne screamed at the sight of Henry's blood on the lance and then her water broke from the shock of the King's injury. The ladies-in-waiting crowded around the Queen and George Boleyn, who had joined the ladies after he had been beaten by Sir Angus Elliott of Northumberland, picked his sister up and followed the ladies into the castle to put her to bed.
Charles Brandon rushed out onto the field and shouted for the doctors as he pulled the reins of the horse to get the animal back on its feet. “Bring a stretcher for the King and be quick about it!” he then shouted to the squires who came running with the stretcher to take the King back inside Greenwich.
Anne lay in her lying in chamber, in the midst of laboring to bring her baby into the world, while in the next room lay the King, bleeding from the wound in his leg and unconscious to the world. The doctors began taking out splinters from the wooden lance and they found one large chunk of wood in Henry's side. As they attempted to take it out, the wound itself began to gush blood. The doctor yanked out huge splinters of the broken lance out of Henry's leg and then covered the wounds quickly with linen cloth to attempt to stop the bleeding. But a great deal of damage had been done and the doctors weren't sure if the King would live or die. They stitched up his wounds then wrapped them after pouring wine into them to help kill the pain. The King grunted in delirious oblivion, but there wasn't much more the doctors could do for their monarch.
Anne wasn't doing much better.
“Push, Your Majesty.” the midwife commanded. “Push!”
Anne groaned and shrieked in pain as the child moved through the birth canal on its way to being brought into the world. She did as the midwife bid her and pushed hard, feeling the child's head poking out of her body.
“He's crowning, Majesty. One more big push now.” the midwife coached.
Anne doubled over and pushed hard, her sister Mary helping by holding her hand and wiping her brow. Anne could almost hear the shoulder pop out amongst the blood and the fluids and then she heard the baby cry.
“Let me see him.” Anne said exhausted. “Let me see my son.”
“Tis fine lass you've brought into the world Majesty.” the midwife said, cleaning the baby with warm water and wrapping her up in fresh linens.
“What shall you name her, sister?” asked Mary.
“Henrietta...” Anne said sleepily. “After the King.”
Henry Tudor groaned deeply as he lay in bed from the wounds incurred during the last jousting match. He knew that he was dying and that upset him. Anne lay in her seclusion next door, giving birth to their last child and he may never know if it was a boy or a girl. She had accomplished what she promised him when they married. She gave him sons, a house full of lusty sons. Henry was saddened that he would never see them grow to their majority and rule the lands he had planned for them. However, the most upsetting thing for the dying king of England was the war that he saw coming. Katherine would never allow Anne’s son Edward to supersede her own daughter Mary to the throne. The country would be torn apart and there was very little that he could do about it
Henry drifted in and out of consciousness throughout the night and heard the bells at Westminster chime ten o'clock. He looked out the window and saw that it was dark and knew it was nighttime. He could hear the doctors arguing with someone... a woman's voice came clear to him. Mary. It was Mary Carey, his former mistress and sister to the Queen. “Let her in.” he croaked. “I want to see her.”
The doctors, unwilling to upset the king even in his dying moments, let Mary into the room. She sailed in; her skirts of her turquoise dress streaming around her like the blue sky on a clear day. She apparently hadn't changed from the joust this afternoon. Mary curtsied before the bed and then sat in the chair that the Groom of the Bedchamber brought for her and placed next to the bed. She took his beefy hand into her delicate one and squeezed. “Henry... can you hear me?”
Henry squeezed back. “I'm dying Mary... they won't confirm it to me, but I know I'm dying.”
Mary's eyes welled up. “Oh my Lord...”
“Please Mary... don't cry.... Is Anne... all right? The baby?”
“They are both fine, Henry, you have a beautiful baby girl named Henrietta.”
Henry's eyes closed as he sighed, slightly disappointedly. It was a girl he thought and he smiled. “Tell Anne I approve but also... tell …. her...” the King started to fade in and out of consciousness.
Mary squeezed his hand again. “Henry? Henry!!!”
Henry shook his head to clear the cobwebs. The pain from the impalement was excruciating. “Tell Anne to write to Katherine... I want them at the funeral....” Henry slipped back into unconsciousness. The doctors told Mary that she should go back to the Queen and tell her that it wouldn't be long now before the King passed on.
But it was a while before Henry would shuffle off the mortal coil. He woke again to find Mary gone and the thoughts of things he should do before he died came back to him. He knew he was too weak to sign anything to help or hinder Katherine and by the time someone from the House of Lords could arrive to Greenwich, a ten mile distance from the Halls of Parliament in Westminster, Henry knew he’d already be dead. He sighed again and watched the doctors and the priests go through their rituals. Soon all would be at peace and he would be able to rest. He only mourned the fact that the situation would tear the peace that his father created with yet another war. The bells of Westminster tolled the hour of two in the morning on the twenty-ninth of July in the year of the Lord fifteen hundred and thirty eight. His birthday had only been a mere four weeks ago and now he lay in his bed at Greenwich, dying from the wounds inflicted from a stupid joust. If there was one thing he regretted most was the fact that he would never see his son be King. I should have listened to Anne he thought. If I had only listened to Anne instead of having my own way, I wouldn't be lying here dying.
That phrase continued in the King's mind, even as he died. If only I had listened to Anne.
Later the bells tolled from Westminster throughout the land signaling to all within England that the King was dead. People began gathering in the streets, openly weeping for the charismatic man that was Henry VIII. Others silently cheered in their hearts for the death of the oppressive tyrant that Henry had become with the destruction of the Holy Mother Church in England and his marriage to his concubine, Anne Boleyn.
That morning the Queen, Anne Boleyn, woke up alone and remembered what happened the day before and she wept. Mary had spent the night on a pallet next to her bed and was awake with breakfast on the table near the bed.
“I'm so sorry Anne.”
“Did you see him before...” the question went unfinished
Mary nodded. “He told me that he approved of your choice of names for the baby and that he...” Mary's lips grew thin as her grief threatened to overwhelm her. “He told me to tell you to inform the Lady Katherine and the Lady Mary about his death and he wanted them at the funeral, as a sign of solidarity for Edward's ascension. I have paper and a pen ready.”
Anne shook her head. “I cannot write that woman and tell her the King is dead...”
“It was his last wish, Anne. You have to honor it.” Mary brought her some breakfast. “I'll leave the paper here on the desk for you.” She curtsied to her sister and left Anne alone to think.
Anne slowly got up out of the bed and walked over to the table with the food. She wasn't hungry but she knew she had to eat something. But the food had no taste right now. She looked at the paper on her desk and she began to pace. The letter lay unwritten as Anne paced next to the desk. Henry lay in state down in the Great Hall, where they placed him last night after he died and she was left to inform Katherine of the incident. The tears came unbidden as she continued to walk up and down the room. She jumped, startled at the sound as someone knocked on the door.
“Enter.” Anne replied to the resonance, quickly wiping the tears from her eyes.
She turned to see her father, Thomas Boleyn, entering the room.
“Father.” Was all she said as he bowed slightly to her.
“Anne. What are you doing out of bed? You’re recently delivered of a child; you shouldn’t be on your feet.”
“Henry wanted me to send for Katherine and Mary to attend the funeral…” she sniffled slightly. “It was his final wish.”
Thomas nodded. “I understand that, but I don’t believe it’s a good idea for us or for Edward.”
Anne slowly sank into the nearest chair. “You don’t think that she would hurt my sons, do you Father?”
Thomas sat down next to his daughter and took her hand. She felt cold to his touch but he held onto her as he expressed his honest concern. “I believe that Katherine could care less about Henry’s funeral, Anne. She will expect the Parliament to side with her and the Catholic Church and make Mary Queen of England over the Acts of Succession and Edward.” Anne turned away and began to cry again. “There there, my dear.” Thomas soothed “Parliament will have to follow the laws they have enacted and Edward will be King; have no fear of that.”
“I just wish he hadn’t died with my son’s future is so insecure, Father.”
“He isn’t dead yet, Anne. He could recover.”
Anne shook her head. “No Father. The physicians came to me an hour ago. Henry is dead and my son Edward is King now. It happened at two in the morning, on the twenty-ninth of July” She sighed. “He’s so young, Father. How is he to rule this country with Katherine and Mary against us? The population will side with them against a child king.
“The Privy Council and Parliament will protect Edward, Anne.” Thomas rose to his feet. “I must inform them of the King’s death.” He kissed his daughter on the cheek and patted her on the head. “All will be well, Anne. Don’t worry.”
After the door to the chamber closed behind Thomas Boleyn, Anne began to cry again. “Don’t worry?” she sniffled as the tears fell unbidden down her cheeks. “Edward is so young and I am alone. How shall we survive without the King?” She flung herself back onto the bed and sobbed herself to sleep.
Later that afternoon, the ladies in waiting found the Queen penning a letter. Signing it, she dusted it with powder to adhere the ink to the paper. Looking up at Lady Sarah Fortney, Anne commanded “Fetch me a courier.”
“Yes Majesty” she curtsied and then left the room.
When Lady Fortney returned with the courier, Anne was sitting in one of the finely crafted oak sitting chairs, two letters on the table before her, sealed with the King's seal. “See that one of these is delivered to the Dowager Princess of Wales and the other is delivered to her daughter at Hatfield House.”
Sarah spoke up unbidden. “Lady Mary is at Richmond, Your Grace. Hatfield is being cleaned.”
Anne nodded at the news. “Fine. See that these letters are delivered to the Lady Mary and her mother.”
The courier bowed at the waist. “Yes Your Grace.” He then took the letters and left the room.
“May I ask what they contain, Your Majesty?” Lady Sarah questioned.
Anne looked up from her and her dark eyes warned that questions were not to be asked at this time. Then she rose and went back to bed, climbing into the large feather bed. “Where is my daughter?” she asked. “Where is Henrietta?”
“With the wet-nurse, Your Majesty. The rest of the children are with her in the nursery at their lessons.”
“Good.” Anne said sleepily. “Wake me in a few hours, I will want to see the children.”
Upon waking from her nap, Anne got dressed in a black silk gown with silver embroidery and made her way solemnly to the nursery, her ladies following in her wake. It was most unusual for the Queen to interrupt her lying in solace by this act, but then again, it was a most unusual time with the King dead and the heir still in his minority. The children were playing amongst themselves when Anne and her entourage entered the nursery. Her heart skipped a beat when she entered, seeing all the children at play or looking at the new baby. She stifled a sob, not wanting to upset her children, but knowing she had to tell the older ones about their father's death. The younger ones, Henry and Henrietta, probably wouldn't remember their father once they began to grow up. Edward and the others would, though, and that was why Anne needed to tell them. Edward was the first to see his mother entering the royal nursery. “Mama!” he cried out loud and ran over to where she was standing, hugging her around the waist. The other children joined their brother in greeting their mother and the wet nurse looked happily at the Queen and curtsied, the baby Henrietta snuggled in her arms. Anne made her way to the nearest chair and sat down. “I must tell you some bad news, my children.” Anne confessed as she gathered her children around her like a mother hen with her chicks. She motioned them to sit down on the floor in front of her, which they did.
“What has happened, Mother?” Elizabeth asked.
“I am afraid that I must tell you...” Anne's face became pinched and she bit her lip. “I must tell you that your father, King Henry the Eighth, has passed away from his injuries that he sustained at the jousting match.”
Thomas looked deeply into his mother's eyes, green gold like his father's. “What does that mean, Mama?”
“Papa is dead, Thomas.” Edward said solemnly and crossed himself piously.
“Dead?” Thomas echoed. Realizing what that meant, Thomas and the girls began to cry. Edward stood up. “Does this mean that I am King now, Mama?” Edward asked Anne.
“Yes, my son. It means that you are King now.”
Edward nodded. “I understand Mama. We should prepare for Papa's funeral.”
Anne nodded, numb to the fact that she had to plan her late husband's funeral now. Edward's innocent words brought the reality of it back to her and she began to cry. Edward hugged his mother comfortingly. “It's alright, Mama.” he whispered in her ear. “It's going to be alright.”
The Lords gathered in the Upper Chamber of the Palace of Westminster quickly and quietly. The news from Greenwich was not good. The Queen, Anne Boleyn, had been delivered of a healthy baby girl and Henry, eighth of that name and King, was dying.
The Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon, stood from his chair and called the group to order. “We must make a decision, my lords. The King is dying and we must name Edward, Henry’s son, as his successor.”
“NO!” shouted a small assemblage of northern lords. “Mary is the legitimate heir. Only she should be named Queen!”
The Duke of Norfolk rose to his feet. “The law is clear. The Act of Succession raises Edward Tudor to the title of King, not Mary. She is a bastard and Anne’s children are the only true heirs.”
”Lies!” charged the Earl of Manchester, Christopher Litton. “The marriage of the Whore, Anne Boleyn, is invalid. Queen Katherine is the only wife the people will accept… Mary the only heir they will follow! She will marry, bear a son and we will have the legitimate line preserved. No bastard shall rule England!”
“Bold words, Manchester, but my daughter is no whore.” Spoke Thomas Boleyn, the Duke of Ormonde and Wiltshire. “She was legitimately married in the Church of England by Archbishop Cranmer and Edward was born nine months later. He is the heir chosen by God and by our beloved King Henry.” Thomas smirked at the tirade. “And if you knew your history, Lord Litton, you would know that this line came from the bastard William, who conquered the island in 1066! As for the people of England, they love Queen Anne and her sons just as much as they loved the Princess Dowager.”
The hall began to divide and erupt in arguments. One side crying for the ascension of Edward Tudor and the other side declaring Mary Tudor queen of England. One voice , that of Charles Brandon, finally shouted above the din of the rest.
The room fell mute at his command. “The King has decreed through the law that Edward should be King. We have all agreed to the Acts of Succession, have we not?
The lords murmured ascent to Suffolk’s question. “Then the Parliament must follow the Law that is before us and following the law, Edward Tudor is now Edward the Sixth, King of England, Ireland and France. And by the Acts of Succession, Anne Boleyn is regent until Edward reaches his majority; save any changes to the Act by the will of the King. I will be reviewing the will with the lawyers of the Council to continue to follow Henry’s last wishes for his kingdom.”
The northern lords began to grumble again but no one spoke up to the decree. But it wouldn’t be a quiet year for anyone. Least of all the Boleyns.
To our most royal cousin, James the Fifth of Scotland, we bid you greetings and salutations on this Blessed Day of the Assumption of our Mother, the Virgin Mary:
It has come to our ears that our beloved uncle, Henry the Eighth of England has passed away to his forever reward in to bosom of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. This leaves our beloved cousin, Mary, the next Queen of England, despite the fact that she has been declared illegitimate and her crown has been left to the bastard son of the Whore, Anne Boleyn.
We would ask that you, our royal cousin and cousin to Mary Tudor, take it upon yourself to intercede with Mary and aid her in the civil war to come. As a good Catholic prince, we know that your tiny island needs to be whole in order to weather the storms of politics yet to come. We would caution you, however, that Mary may prove to be like her mother in bearing children, so if you should take her as your wife, be aware of the facts of begetting an heir from her loins.
We only wish the best for Mary in seeking to retain her crown in England, so that your island countries can remain steadfast in the Catholic faith and loyal to not only your royal selves but to the Holy Father in Rome as well.
We look forward to hearing from you on your progress in this matter.
Your cousin in Christ
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Mary Tudor sat in the solar of Richmond Castle, reading the Bible passages of Psalms when one of her ladies, Rebecca Waynwright, came running into the room, a piece of paper folded in her hand.
"My lady!" Magery practically shouted. "A letter from your mother has come!"
Mary looked up from her devotions. "A letter... from my mother??" The look of shock was plain on her face.
"The courier just delivered it and he is waiting for a reply from you." Rebecca seemed more excited about this apparent change of events than her mistress did. She handed it to Mary and dropped to the floor, waiting.
Mary took the letter, her hands shaking, uncertain as to what trick of Anne Boleyn's this might be. Her blue eyes glanced at the bottom of the page first, looking for her mother's signature and was struck dumb upon finding it there. Then she started at the top of the page and read the letter in its entirity
“My dearest Mary:
How long I have waited to put pen to paper and write to you about my life here in exile. I know that this has been hard for you to be separated from me in this time of uncertainty. I have informed the Lady Anne that we will not be coming to London for your father's funeral as there are those among her court that would seek to do us harm, including Lady Anne. Stay strong in prayer, my daughter and I shall write again soon. Do not go to the funeral, lest you find yourself in the Tower or some other gilded cage more imposing than the one you are in right now. Remember only that you are Queen now, no matter what anyone says.
In God's hand
Katherine, Queen Dowager of England, Wales, Ireland and France.”
The page fluttered out of her hand and Mary began to cry. "My father is dead, Rebecca. I am Queen now."
Rebecca sat down beside Mary and took her hand. "Not according to the law, my lady. Edward is king now." she said sadly. "I'm sorry, but your father set down the Laws of Succession and you must wait until all your brothers have served before you become Queen."
Mary jerked her hand away. "The sons of the Whore are not heirs to my father's throne..." she started.
"But they are." another voice entered the conversation. The man bowed before Mary as she stood to receive him, dropping Rebecca's hand as she did.
"Sir Francis Langdon, I believe." Mary's face was blank save for a small frown upon her lips.
"That is correct, my lady. How kind of you to remember me."
"What do I owe to the honor of this visit, Sir Francis?" Mary's demeanor remained cold.
"The Crown wanted me to make sure that your accommodations were to your liking while you were here in Richmond."
“My father is dead, Sir Francis. What more does the Crown want of me?”
“Your father left strict instructions as to your care after his death, my lady. I am here to see that those instructions are carried out.”
“And just what instructions are those, may I ask?”
“ I am simply to see that you are comfortable, have all that you require and to maintain the status quo.” Sir Francis reached down and picked up the letter that had fallen to the floor. “Items like this are to be screened before you see them.” He glanced quickly over the short letter. “Hmmm. The Queen will not be pleased with this.”
“My mother wrote me.” Mary protested. “There can be no harm in that since my father is no longer among the living.”
“But it has upset you, my lady. And we can’t have that, now can we.” Sir Francis tucked the letter into his doublet. “I shall inform the Queen that your mother has contacted you.”
“My mother is Queen, not that puppet that you all seem to cater to. Anne Boleyn is nothing but a whore that my father elevated, nothing more.”
“Tsk, tsk.” Sir Francis clucked. “Your father, of blessed memory, brought forth a new Church and a new Queen upon the land. A Queen, unlike your mother, who bore him four sons to reign England after him. You have been put aside and will remain so until such time as King Edward sees fit to marry you off.” Sir Francis took her hand and kissed in gallantly. “Good day, my lady.”
Mary watched in silence as Sir Francis walked away. Inside she was fuming. “How dare he talk to me like that. I am the Queen now, not his mistress.” She thought to herself. “Something must be done.”