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Authors: Carolyn Meyer

Tags: #Fiction - Historical, #Royalty, #16th Century, #England/Great Britain, #Tudors, #Executions

Doomed Queen Anne

BOOK: Doomed Queen Anne
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DOOMED QUEEN ANNE

CAROLYN MEYER

 

Copyright © 2002 by Carolyn Meyer

All rights reserved.

Published by Scholastic, Inc.: New York, NY

Printed in USA

ISBN: 978-0547538860

 

Doomed Queen Anne is a work of fiction based on historical figures and events. Some details have been altered to enhance the story.

 

Young Royals Series by Carolyn Meyer

  1. Mary, Bloody Mary (1999)
  2. Beware, Princess Elizabeth (2001)
  3. Doomed Queen Anne (2002)
  4. Patience, Princess Catherine (2004)
  5. Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de’ Medici (2007)
  6. The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette (2010)
  7. The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots (2012)

 

For Sophie, the newest princess

 

The Tudor Family

PROLOGUE

The Tower of London, England 19 May 1536

Midnight. Darkness, but for this single candle. By first light I must be ready. I am very afraid; my hands tremble, and my throat aches with stifled sobs.

Silence, save for the wheezes of Sir William Kingston, the constable of the Tower, and his wife, who sleep outside my door. The ladies assigned to watch over me toss restlessly on pallets on the floor.

I shall not sleep. I sit now in the chambers prepared these three years past by King Henry for my coronation. My gown is ready, gray silk damask opening upon a petticoat of white silk. Over it I shall wear my crimson velvet mantle trimmed in ermine—a queen’s robe—and I shall put my hair up in a net of gold.

For the next hours I have little to do but to pray and to remember the events of my life and the people who brought me to this place: King Henry, whose ardor turned to hatred. My father, who encouraged my ambition but hardened against me when I learned my lessons too well. My sister, whom I envied above all others. My brother, who was condemned to die because of me.

And my child—what will become of her? Will she be told that her mother was once queen of England? Or will her father try to erase all remembrance of me? If I could be granted but one wish (other than the wish for life itself) it would be that my daughter know the truth about me—Anne Boleyn, the doomed queen.

CHAPTER 1: The Grand Rendezvous, 1520

Somewhere in that enormous throng was my hateful sister, and I resolved to find her.

It had been three years since Mary went home to England. Now she’d come back to France, and I wished to show her how much I had changed. She would see that I was no longer the ill-favored child she’d once taunted. I was now a fine young lady of the court! But first I had to find her.

Permission to go in search of my sister would never have been granted by the mother of the maids, the squint-eyed Madame Mathilde, and so I determined to go without asking. I dressed in one of my prettiest gowns and restlessly awaited my chance to slip away

The moment Madame Mathilde was distracted, I gathered my courage and my skirts and hurried out of the French royal encampment. Plunging into the noisy tumult, I was swept up in the colorful jostling of lords and ladies, knights and priests, tradesmen and servants, horses and dogs. Surely, with such a crowd, my absence would not be noticed. Then I saw a one-eyed man watching me. Had he been set to spying by the mother of the maids? His look chilled me, and with racing heart I ran toward the English camp.

I had just passed my thirteenth birthday in June of the year 1520 and was part of the great entourage that accompanied François, king of France, to meet with Henry VIII, king of England. The entire French court had made the five-day journey north from Paris and King Henry and
his
great entourage—including my sister—had sailed across the English Channel so that the two powerful rulers could pledge their mutual friendship. Their grand rendezvous was to be an event of unrivaled splendor. Thousands of artisans and workmen had labored for months to transform this dusty plain into two royal encampments. Hundreds of tents fashioned of cloth of gold and silk in brilliant colors shimmered in the late afternoon sun. No wonder it was called the Field of Cloth of Gold.

What excitement! Butchers hurried by with hogs suspended from poles; bakers carried great wooden trays stacked high with manchets made of the finest wheaten flour. Musicians played upon their pipes, and I stopped to watch a trained bear dance while his master drummed. But then I thought I saw the one-eyed man again, and I hurried on.

Once I reached the English camp, hardly anyone took notice of me, a small, dark-haired girl, asking for Lady Mary Bullen or Mane Boleyn (our father had changed the spelling of our family name from
Bullen
to the more fashionably French-sounding
Boleyn
). Everyone seemed to know who she was. She had once been a blazing star in the French court, and it was no surprise that she had managed to attract the same sort of attention in England as well. I was directed to a sumptuous tent of yellow silk. Suddenly I felt uneasy. How would my sister receive me? What if she laughed at me! Cautiously I pushed aside the curtain and peered inside.

My sister rested upon an embroidered pillow, sipping from a silver goblet. She was full-breasted and narrow-waisted, her hair as thick and rich as honey, her fair complexion touched with pink, her eyes the color of spring violets. Pier brows were delicately arched, her rosy lips pleasingly bow shaped. She shone with the special radiance of one well pleased with herself.

The moment I found her, I regretted it. The refinements I had acquired—the elegant wardrobe, the refined manners, the excellent French, the graceful dancing—all meant nothing. My sister had become a great beauty, and I knew at once that I was still the ill-favored child.

At the sight of me, she set down the goblet. “Dear sister!” she cried, and rose gracefully to greet me before I could change my mind and flee. We embraced, as was expected, although I felt no real affection from her, and I caught a whiff of her scent.

She held me at arm’s length and inspected me with a critical eye, taking in my long, dark hair; my dark eyes, nearly black; my skin white as skimmed milk, with no hint of blush; my newly budded breasts. Then she reached out to examine the jewel I wore close around my neck on a bit of ribbon, intended to conceal a large mole that grew at the base of my throat. I thought the disguise effective, but Mary managed to move the jewel in such a way that I was sure called attention to the flaw. “How clever,” she said.

Scorched by her critical gaze, I pulled away from her and adjusted the jewel.

“You look much too thin. Nan,” my sister said. “Are you well?”

“Quite well,” I replied. My sister had always been the first to notice my faults, and that had not changed. And she had forgotten her promise to call me Anne instead of my childhood name of Nan. All of my confidence seemed to drain away, and I did not correct her.

Mary bade me sit down near her. A serving maid brought me a goblet of the spiced wine that poured from one of the many gilded fountains. “Have you heard the gossip?” Mary asked before I could ask after our parents and brother. She pursed her pretty red lips and tossed her curls.

“I hear gossip every day,” I replied carefully, wondering what she intended. “One cannot be a member of the royal court and
not
hear gossip. Of what do you speak, dear sister?”

She called for her servant to bring a tray of sweetmeats, and when we had each selected one and Mary had taken a dainty bite, she leaned toward me with a coy smile. “I am the king’s mistress.”

I gaped at her. “The king?” I repeated, rather stupidly “King Henry?”

“Of course. King Henry!” she said, laughing. “Of what other king would I speak? It is quite an honor to be chosen by one’s monarch.”

“I assume that your King Henry has several mistresses,” I replied, annoyed by her boasting and determined not to let her best me. “François certainly does.” This was not an exaggeration; everyone knew that the king of France was in love with the comtesse de Châteaubriant, and that he enjoyed the favors of many other women as well.

“The king does as the king wishes,” Mary informed me with a shrug. “And I care not with whom he does it when he is not in my company. But I assure you that he has long since tired of Queen Catherine. And he no longer pays the least attention to his former mistress, Bessie Blount. He has given me this gown,” she said, flaunting her velvet sleeves and a brocade petticoat.

My sister was gotten up in the English fashion: a gown with too many colors, too much gold lace and brocade, too much of everything. I preferred the refined elegance of the way we dressed in the French court.

“And this ring as well,” she added. She waved the bauble under my nose. It was gold, set with rubies and diamonds.

Mary could not stop prating about King Henry. “He had a child by Bessie about a year ago, before he tired of her and sent her away. Henry Fitzroy is the little one’s name, and being the king’s son, he is treated with all manner of deference, even though he is a bastard. When we are alone, the king talks constantly of how keenly he desires a son to inherit the throne.”

“King Henry has a daughter, has he not?” I asked.

“Yes, the princess Mary, poor little snip of a child.” Mary sighed and sipped her wine. “The king pays her great attention—when he thinks about her!—but she is of no use to him, for she cannot rule. He must have a son—a
legitimate
son of a lawful wife, not a bastard like Bessie’s Fitzroy.”

“Does Queen Catherine know that you are the king’s mistress?” I asked my sister.

The question caused her great merriment. “Oh, indeed she does, and she hates me! But there is nothing she can do, because I am a member of her court at the king’s bidding—Father saw to that. I think Father knew that the king would come to desire me, and our affair will greatly advance Father’s political position.”

Had Father really planned it all
? I wondered. Does he have plans for me? But I knew the answer:
I am the ill-favored daughter. He intends no such future for me.

“Perhaps she will yet provide a son,” I said, mainly to provoke my sister.

“Eleven years of marriage, and Queen Catherine has still not produced an heir for the king,” Mary said scornfully “Have you not seen her? She is short and stout, and her gowns are stiff and ugly. After all those years since she left Spain, she still cannot speak our language properly. Everything that comes out of the queen’s mouth sounds Spanish! She is not at all happy that her husband takes his pleasure with me. But who could take pleasure with such an old Spanish mule? She is nearly as lacking in beauty as your pious queen Claude!” Mary laughed, and gestured for the serving maid to refill our goblets. “Claude is blessed with virtue, but virtue is a poor substitute for beauty and wit.

“Our pious queen Claude has already borne François two sons as well as a daughter and expects a fourth child in a few weeks,” I retorted, still hoping to put my sister in her place. “There is no question of who will inherit the throne of France.”

Just then we heard a flourish of trumpets, loud and long. “The kings are coming!” Mary cried, rising quickly from her cushion, her cheeks flushing prettily.

I hurried to follow my comely blond sister out of the silk tent to watch as the splendid royal procession approached. All around us the air seemed to crackle with excitement. I was thrilled to be a part of it, and for a time I forgot my jealousy.

“I believe they are on their way to a joust,” said Mary. “Shall we hurry to the tiltyard to watch them?”

“We should be with our retinues, should we not?” I asked, suddenly worried that Madame Mathilde had taken a count of the queen’s maids and found one missing.

“We can join them after the kings have passed by,” she said. “But first I want to show you something. Come with me. Hurry!”

Seizing my hand, Mary pushed her way through the crowd. I stumbled after her until we reached the very front of the throng. We were close enough to touch the horses of the henchmen riding at the head of the procession, followed by the archers and the knights, all wearing brilliantly colored livery. The horses’ hooves raised clouds of dust, and the air smelled strongly of their sweat and dung.

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