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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy: 5th and final review post + Awesome Giveaway!

Today marks the end of the story and reviews. I have enjoyed reviewing this book so much. It's a wrap up now. Closing events in Catherine Howard's life comes very swiftly. After Anne is executed on trumped up charges King Henry will waste no time in marrying Jane Seymour. She is already pregnant which pleases the King very much. She loses the baby a few weeks later causing much distress for the King. Will he ever get his son, the heir to the throne. It is not just the loss of the baby causing the King distress but his eldest daughter Mary refuses to sign the affidavit proclaiming herself a bastard and acknowledging that her mother, Katherine of Aragon, was never truly the King's wife. She holds out as long as possible, until the King makes it very clear that if he can execute his wife he can execute his daughter as traitor. She signs the paper and is admitted back into court where she will befriend her new step mother Jane Seymour.

The King also has problems with his subjects rebelling against the new religion in Lincoln, North of England. He will solicit the help of the Duke of Norfolk and Duke of Suffolk to put down the rebels sparing neither woman or child. He is really out of control at this point.

Great happiness comes into his life when Jane Seymour delivers him a legitimate son. Oh the celebrations for the kingdom. Jane dies a few days later from complications. The King almost immediately will solicit Cromwell to find him another wife. Cromwell has his own interests to protect and seeks after a protestant wife. He finds Anne from Cleves. Cleves being part of the German Empire. She is protestant to be sure. The King will send the court artist Hans Holbein to paint her portrait so he can be a judge of her beauty. Holbeins goes to Cleves paints the portrait a miniature and returns it to the King. The King is very impressed and desires to marry her post haste. Arrangements are made and Anne sails to England. The King cannot wait to have her brought to court to meet him, he will ride to the coast to meet her upon her arrival. He meets her and is very disappointed and takes no qualms in letting his advisers, namely Cromwell that he is very displeased. He likens Anne to a Flemish Mare. He begins immediately to plot his divorce. Cromwell must find some loop hole to bail him out of this. Cromwell realizes his fate is sealed the King has no more use for him. Once in the King's poor favor your head becomes shaky on your shoulders. A loop hole is found and the King promises Anne the title of Anne of Cleves, Hever Castle, Richmond Castle and 3000 pounds a year. Is Anne stupid? Hello.... how good does this offer get. She can't sign the divorce agreement fast enough, for if the King found her unattractive she found him grotesque, old, smelling horrible from his leg.

Anne retires to Hever Castle and enjoys the rest of her life in service to the community with her head intact.

Catherine was sent to court with the hopes of possibly having an arranged marriage with Thomas Culpepper. Franic Derham is now back in the country and apparently their fictitious marriage is at an end and Catherine let's him know in no uncertain terms that their relationship is over. She has eyes only for Thomas. Catherine will serve Queen Anne for a few weeks as her Lady in Waiting. It is during this time that the King will take notice of a little, plump, rosy cheeked girl, Catherine Howard. He is just over come with desire for her. As soon as he has divorce he marries this poor child. She is 16 and he is 50!!! She is a sweet, rash girl. The King considers her the most modest of all, she is A Rose Without a Thorn. Catherine has made enemies in her past at her grandmother's home who will come back to bite her. Catherine has in her household her previous lover Henry Mannox and Francis Derham. She has no friends or advisers to tell her this was a deadly mistake. She is still in love with Thomas Culpepper and recklessly seeks him out for romantic interludes set up by one of her ladies, Jane Boleyn.

Bishop Cranmer who is fearful that Catherine's Catholic ties will influence the King to once again turn to Rome is zealous in finding something that will implicate her. Through his contacts Cranmer will unearth juicy secrets of Catherine Howard. He can't wait to divulge this information to the King. He is waiting for the King and Queen to return to Hampton Court. Upon their arrival he sets upon the King with his grim news. When the King heard the news the proverbial crap hit the fan. The King left Hampton Court and Catherine was locked away in her room with all attendants ordered to leave.

Francis Derham was arrested, tortured and met the traitors death on Tyburne Hill. Thomas Culpepper was beheaded on the tower green. The Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine's grandmother would be sent to the Tower and die. Queen Catherine would sail down the Thymes from Sion to the Tower Green for execution. On her way her barge will pass under the London Bridge where she will look up and see the severed heads of her lovers, Thomas Culpepper and Francis Derham. She met her death with grace and dignity on 13 February 1542, not yet 20 years old.

The King will retire to Hampton Court feeling lonely and unloved:

A movement beside him startled him and the hair was damp on his forehead, for it seemed to him that Anne was standing beside him. A second glance told him that it was but an image conjured up by the guilty mind of a murderer, for it was not Anne who stood beside him, but Anne's daughter. There were often times when she reminded him of her mother. Of all his children he loved her best because she was the most like him; but then, her mother had angered him, and he had loved her. He loved Elizabeth, Elizabeth of the fiery hair and the spirited nature and the quick temper. She would never be the dark-browed beauty that her mother had been; she was tawny-red like her father. He felt sudden anger sweep over him. Why, oh why had she not been born a boy! Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy pg 444.

The main players:

King Henry VIII ~ dies stinking in his bed at 56 years old having ruled England for 38 years

Anne Boleyn ~ 2 wife of Henry VIII; executed 1536

Cardinal Wolsey ~ dies on his way to prison 1530

Thomas More ~ Chancellor of England; executed 1535

Bishop Fisher ~ Bishop of Roman Catholic Church in England; executed 1535

Mark Smeaton ~ Queen Anne's musician; tortured and executed 1536

George Boleyn ~ Queen Anne's brother; executed 1536

William Breaton ~ Queen Anne's friend; executed 1536

Henry Norris ~ Queen Anne's friend; executed 1536

Mary Tudor ~ Henry VIII and Katherine Aragon's daughter; Will become Mary I or Bloody Mary, Queen of England

Jane Seymour ~ Henry VIII 4th wife and mother of his son Edward VI dies in childbirth 1537

Anne of Cleves ~ Marries Henry for 3 months~divorces and lives a safe life

Thomas Cromwell ~ The King's Chief Minister; executed 1540

Bishop Cranmer ~ Archbishop of Canterbury; executed in 1556 by Queen Mary I

Catherine Howard ~ 5th wife of Henry VIII; Executed in 1542

Jane Boleyn~ Wife of George Boleyn~ Lady Rochford; Executed along with Queen Catherine in 1542

Thomas Culpepper ~ Queen Catherine's 1st cousin and lover; Executed 1542

Francis Derham ~ Queen Catherine's one time betrothed; tortured and Executed 1542

Duchess of Norfolk ~ Queen Catherine's step grandmother; imprisoned in the Tower 1542

Elizabeth Tudor ~ Daughter of Henry VIII and Boleyn; will become Elizabeth I the greatest sovereign of England reigning 45 years. She will die in her bed as old woman of 70 in 1603.

Indeed in their story Murder is Most Royal~ you be the judge!!


In honor of this great book and this great author I am hosting a giveaway! I will be giving away:

  • 1 brand new copy of Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy &

  • 1 brand new DVD of Anne of a Thousand Days

Rules to participate:

  • 1 entry for becoming a follower or if you do follow please indicate

  • 2 entries for posting this giveaway on your blog & send link

  • 2 entries for twitting about the giveaway!

  • 3 entries for picking out your favorite review of my 5 reviews on Murder Most Royal and commenting on it on this review.

  • Please leave your email address

  • This giveaway is available for all including my international followers

  • Drawing will be Wednesday, December 23, 2009

  • Total of 8 possible entries


  1. Hey Susie - great series of reviews! I would love to be entered for this giveaway. I have posted on my blog sidebar I have also tweeted about it My favorite review so far was the first one - mostly because I loved the pictures that you took while on your trip. I am a follower!


  2. Great reviews! It is a wonderful book. I would love to be entered in the giveaway for the DVD!

    I am already a follower!

    robinbird_79 AT hotmail DOT com

  3. Hi :)
    Thank you for the opportunity to win.
    1 I am a Follower
    2 for posting on my blog for my 5am EST Thurs Dec 10th post.
    2 for Tweeting (@RKCharron)
    My email is rkcharron at
    Happy Holidays,

  4. I still want to read all of these I have the first one but I have yet to read it.

    Enter me too you know I am a follower..

    My favorite was the first review because of the picture too!

  5. I enjoyed reading the reviews.

    Can't say I agreed with eveything you wrote but it is always nice to see what someone else thinks.

    I am a international Follower.

    Please include me in the drawing.



    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  6. Hi! I am a follower of course;
    I tweeted about this too:)

    My favourite of all 5 posts is a difficult choice. But- I do have to say that I loved the way you tied in the whole thing with this last post. Great review series- you make Plaidy proud!
    Thanks for this fabulous giveaway!

  7. Oh- here's the link to my tweet:

  8. I enjoyed all five reviews, hard to choose a favorite. Narrowed it down to the first (I loved the pictures, esp. of the castles) and the last review - I love seeing a cast of characters. Thanks for listing them and I guess that's my favorite.

    I follow through Google Reader.

    Great giveaway, Thanks!


  9. I already have both the book and the movie, so don't enter me. I liked this post best -- didn't realize the 3rd & 4th wives were in the book!

  10. I am a follower and would like to be entered for this contest. Having the other wives also included would definitely make the book interesting and different.


  11. I already have both the book and the movie, so don't enter me, either.
    I enjoyed this series, and I like that last part especially whne you quoted from the book about Henry & Elizabeth. I will always wonder what their relationship was really like.
    And I doubt the King ever felt guilt or remorse for killing his wives.

  12. I would love to win this book so please enter me. I am a follower and will com back when I post it on my blog.
    I think he may have felt a twinge of remorse for Katherine and Anne, but kept that strictly to himself. If Henry said that to anyone else, that would have questioned and he would have lost more credibility. Oh the danger of being a woman at the Tudor court :)


    I am a follower.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

  14. Hi..Great giveaway

    I am a follower of ur blog


  15. I posted your contest on my blog .

    I think I like this review the most because of the quote you have here, of HRH thinking he is seeing Anne, but then realizes it is Elizabeth. And then his lamentations...if he only knew.
    Wonderful series Susie.


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