...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy: 4th review post in series of 5...

Princess Elizabeth has been born much to chagrin of her father King Henry VIII. At first he was patient considering both his and Anne's age. Surely they had time to conceive a son. However; Anne did not conceive quickly after the birth of Elizabeth which worried her to the point that she would lie to the King and tell him she was pregnant hoping that she would be soon. He was outraged to find out that she had deceived him. He felt manipulated by this woman who had bewitched him. Henry had already begun seeking out other women, particularly a mousy Jane Seymour. She was everything that Anne wasn't. She was somewhat plain in appearance, she was mild and unassuming. She did not rail on the King as Anne did, and appeared to have no temper at all. She worshiped him, and being the egotist that he was he thrived on it.

Anne knew that she had to do something desperate to hold onto the King. She had Jane removed from court in spite of the King's protests. She actively tried to be more demure and sweet in the King's presence. This worked for awhile and he was all Anne's again. She did get pregnant and all were overjoyed! She did all in her power to assure the safety of her unborn child, which had to be a son or she was doomed. Anne knew that the King's interest in her was fading, having a son would assure her place on the throne.

During Anne's later pregnancy the King began again his affair with Jane Seymour who just happened to always be within his reach. Anne was informed, sending her into the rage of rages which caused her to go into premature labor delivering a still born boy 2 months early. The King taking no responsibility as usual curses her and declares he will never have another child with her. Anne knows now that her number is up and lives in fear. She hears the whispers, she sees the sly smiles of her enemies. Life at court is electrified with tension. Those who are jealous of Anne begin plotting against her, in particular her infamous sister-in-law Jane Boleyn. Jane is just waiting behind curtains and doors to make her move against Anne.

The King wants nothing more to do with her and begins plotting on how to get rid of her and marry Jane Seymour. He wants her to resign herself to her fate and go to a nunnery. Knowing Anne as he does he realizes that her quietly going to a nunnery is ridiculous. He seeks out his advisers for a solution. He does not suggest a solution of course, that would actually make him responsible, he just suggests that he is in a bind that he doesn't know how to get himself out of. Cromwell knowing his future depends on making the King happy begins plotting and scheming. He notices how the Queen dotes on her musician, Mark Smeaton, a young man from humble circumstances that has found favor with the Queen. Mark is a beautiful youth, but rather frail and vulnerable. This will be to Cromwell's advantage. Mark is invited to dinner at Cromwell's estate. He is all excited that the nobility is recognizing him. Little does he know that he will never return to safety. He is seized and tortured into false confessions about the Queen having lovers. Cromwell wants there to be no doubt of the Queens treachery so he keeps torturing until he gets enough false information from Mark to seal the case against the her. Mark is taken to the tower to await trial.

Cromwell goes to the King and tells him what he has discovered. The King is outraged that the Queen has betrayed him, but secretly happy because now there will be no doubt that she will be removed from the scene allowing him to marry Jane Seymour. The King very willingly believes these accusations and orders the arrest of several young men in court including Thomas Wyatt (my 11th great grandfather) and George Bolyen, the Queen's brother.
George is accused of incest with his sister Anne and it will be his wife Jane Boleyn who will sign an affidavit declaring that she saw them together in an incestuous situation.
Anne will be at dinner at Greenwich when her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard will come to arrest her and take her to the tower of London. Her Uncle will mock her and show her no mercy while taking her to her final destination. She will enter by boat through the Traitor's Gate and climb the stairs. She will be greeted by the head Constable who will later declare that she wept and laughed hysterically upon arrival. She will be housed in the same quarters she spent the eve of her coronation in 3 years earlier. Her ladies in waiting will be spy's who are constantly badgering her for a confession. There will be trials and verdicts. All the young men will be executed by beheading on Tyburne Hill excepting Thomas Wyatt. Who knows really why he was let off, except that his wife's father was a great friend to King.
Anne was taken to the Tower Green an executed on 19 May 1536 two days after her brother George and the others were executed on Tyburne Hill. It was not public, the King did not want any public sympathy. Her final words were "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." She was then buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Catherine Howard who is about 14 years old and in love with Francis Derham a distant cousin who finds employment in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk. They have a hot and steamy affair planning their eventual marriage. They are discovered by the Duchess and all hell will break loose in the household. Catherine is beaten and sent into exclusion. Francis fears for his life and manages to get away. The Duchess is afraid as well because the rumors are circulating all over the neighborhood. Her step son the Duke of Norfolk will condemn her for her neglect and possibly have her removed. Every where there is chaos. The King has remarried, now to Jane Seymour. The King's daughter Mary is stirring up trouble to avenge her mother, Katheriene of Aragon. There seems to be no place truly safe any longer.

Teaser for tomorrow, the final post in the review...

Henry was furious at the reports brought back to him. He swore that he could not trust Mary. He was an angry man. It was but a matter of days since he had married Jane Seymour and yet he was not happy. He could not forget Anne Boleyn; he was dissatisfied with Jane; and he was enraged against Mary. A man's daughter to work against him! He would not have it! He called the council together. A man cannot trust those nearest to him! was his cry. There should be an inquiry. If he found his daughter guilty of conspiracy she should suffer the penalty of traitors. Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy pg. 363


  1. I always thought that the way she was buried so was terrible.

  2. Yes, it was terrible. Henry never planned a funeral or burial, she was left on the scaffold for a couple of days until they were able to make a cheap coffin for her and then bury her below the floor in the chapel in an unmarked grave.

  3. Uneasy the head upon which sits the crown.

    That's from something, but I don't know what. Wait, I just read your comment...Henry left Anne's body there on the scaffold for a few days??? OMG she was not the most innocent person but she certainly didn't deserve that!

  4. I first read this novel when I was thirteen and I found it utterly evocative of the Tudor period and it began a long love of all historical novels. I have devoured every book I could find about Anne Boleyn since and this is still the best. Plaidy created a spirited, proud, desirable Anne and the scenes in the novel really bring her to life. The way she weaves the lives of the two cousins together is very clever and I think it is a very well written piece of fiction.

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