This is my 2nd post out of 5 that will be reviewing Jean Plaidy's marvelous historical novel~ Murder Most Royal The Story of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.
We left off yesterday with Anne's first intimate meeting with Henry VIII in her garden at Hever Castle. The King had seen Anne at court after her return from France and was highly interested in her. He announced that at some point in the near future he would be passing Hever and would stop in. The Boleyn's prepared for days to accommodate the King's visit. He finally did show up and found Anne alone in her garden. He was completely smitten upon seeing her. She fully knew who he was but played the part of an ignorant maiden. The King seemed to like these type of masquerading games.
She flirted with him, seeming to care less who he was. This behavior only heightened the King's desire for her. Of course eventually he disclosed his identity. She answered this by telling him she would never be a King's mistress and left the garden. The King may have been very impressed, but Anne according to Ms. Plaidy found him to be a large, red, tubby, man with small eyes and mouth. She refused being his mistress knowing the plight of her sister Mary whose reputation was in ruins because of the King.
She didn't think much about it ever going any further and spent her summer in pursuit of her new love Henry Percy the son of the Earl of Northumberland.
These two young people fell madly in love and prepared to marry in secret. The deed was to be done in secret because Anne's family was not of nobility and Henry was contracted to marry Lady Mary Shewsbury. Henry Percy, at the time was in Cardinal Wolsey's household and Anne was at court making it convienant to see each other. Henry made the mistake of divulging his love for Anne and their plans to marry. Wolsey repeated this to the King who became outraged and demanded that Wolsey intercede and send Henry home to Northumberland and Anne back to Hever. They were not to be allowed to marry. Henry did return home and within a short time married Lady Mary Shewsbury. Anne returned to Hever with a deep and abiding hate towards the Cardinal Wolsey.
In the mean time Catherine Howard's mother dies leaving 10 motherless children. Her father is so poor that the children are farmed out to various relatives. Catherine is sent to live with her aunt and uncle where she will meet her 1st cousin Thomas Culpepper. She lives in the household until she is around 7 years old upon which she is sent to live with her step grandmother the Duchess of Norfolk in Lambeth. The Duchess of Norfolk prides herself in her magnanimity towards the unfortunate and takes on several young ladies of the town to be raised in her household. Fine idea, but she doesn't follow through well. She is a fat, lazy old woman. The girls are all housed in a dormitory with no supervision. This leads to many nightly visits from young men in the household or community. Catherine is privy to all of this. She learns at a very early age all about promiscuity. This will later become her down fall.
The story takes you back and forth between Anne and Catherine which I find delightful. Anne will return to court and be pursued relentlessly by the King. He does have a problem, his wife who cannot bear a son. The pursuit of a legal heir is all consuming to the King. He will lie, cheat, steal and even murder in this pursuit. No one is safe. Anne continues to refuse him and he continues to beg, finally getting the idea that Anne will never be his with-out the crown upon her head. Anne will later admit that she never really loved the King she just loved the idea of being queen and that ambition was her doom. Thus begins one of the most historic events in the Western World, the separation of Church and State.
Monday's teaser for the 3rd installment:
The King sat alone and disconsolate in his private apartments. He was filled with apprehension. Through the southeastern corner of England rage that dread disease, the sweating sickness. In the streets of London men took it whilst walking; many died within a few hours. People looked suspiciously one at the other. Why does this come upon us to add to our miseries! Murder Most Royal~Jean Plaidy~pg 129
Please check back Monday December 7th for 3rd installment.