Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Marrying Monarch

Like the 1st 2 nuptials of Henry's, his wedding to Jane was a small, intimate ceremony, this time at Hampton Court, his new fav palace bestowed on him by Wolsey yrs ago when he got jealous of the cardinal's fine state, & it occurred 12 days after wife #2s demise.  The betrothal ceremony has taken place b4 Anne was even done bleeding. 

Hampton Court's Tudor front facade
wait'll ya see what William & Mary done to the back of it!

Peeps who'd watched Queen Anne's head fly off were expected to paste on smiles, dress nice, bring gifts, & party at the banquet to follow, toasting Queen Jane's health. Mondo bizzarro, huh? All I can say is that Henry must've REALLY wanted to get rid of Anne if he'd permit himself to be known as a cuckold 5x over worldwide. Tudor historian Retha Warnicke has come up w/ the hypothesis that Henry, w/ his absolute well-documented horror of illness & deformity, may have managed to sire a child that was in some way noticeably defective even at mid-stage of pregnancy, & natch that couldn't be HIS fault, but Anne's, & therefore she REALLY had to go b/c what if it happened again & lived? Tis all conjecture but it puts an interesting spin on things. Had to be a reason why Henry wanted to get rid of her so badly he was willing to make himself look like a moron LOL  C'mon, your wife is cheating on you w/ not just 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, but FIVE DUDES, & you ain't got a clue for over 3 yrs?

Jane was a bit slower to conceive, which must've maddened Henry, as it was the sole reason he kept swapping out wives. But by their 1st anniv Jane was a-glow & expecting the heir in the autumn, so life was good for Henry.

Henry VIII
the Holbein portrait

Finally, at age 48 & after 30 yrs of trying, Henry VIII had a legit son! He was born on St Edward's Day so Henry decided that would be his name.  Jane didn't get any say in it.

baby Prince Edward

Richmond had been a Henry, but Richmond had suddenly taken ill & died just a mo past his 17th BD, 2 mos after Anne's execution. Rumors were rampant that Anne had been successful in poisoning the king's bastard, after all.  The weird thing about Richmond's demise was what happened after.  He was at MBs manor of Colleyweston, which was his main household, when he got the sicks.  Henry sent Norfolk to take care of the arrangements.  There was no grand funeral befitting the status of a prince of the blood & what was really odd was that Henry told Norfolk to have Richmond's remains stuffed into a lead-lined casket.  Nobody had those.  So mayhap he demised of something highly contagious?  Or maybe that whole Blood Ties thing about him being a vampire was true ROFL  At any rate, then Henry got mad at Norfolk after the fact for giving the kid such a shabby send-off.  Norfolk was all but....but....I followed your directions, honest!  Look, I still got the Post-Its, even!  Henry was not amused. 

Jane had convinced her spouse to allow Mary to be received back at court in gratitude that she had been spared.  Mary was 21 by this time & it was remarked upon how slight of stature she was, yet what a deep voice she had for a female. Mary was always perpetually sick w/ something or other, having lousy sinuses, wretched times of the month, crippling migraines, & was just all around of a nervous twitchy dispostion, not surprising when one considers her father'd threatened to execute her after Cath's demise if she kept refusing to swear the oath to the Act of Supremacy. Once she did that, it was all lollipops & rainbows for the Tudor clan, & Mary became great pals w/ her new step & was allowed to be present for the birth of little Edward, whom she publicly acknowledged as the indisputable heir, much to Henry's pleasure.

O the endless celebrations Henry devised to celebrate the arrival of his long-denied son! Some peeps have the notion that Edward was a sickly infant & stayed that way until he demised, but there's really no solid evidence of him being ill much of the time as Mary was, until he was king. He seemed to be a perfectly healthy infant, thrived nicely, & was the apple of his daddy's eye. Jane of course was done w/ her obligations to her son, who would have his own little household & such, so she got to lollygag in bed & have peeps pop in & congratulate her on a job well done. Plus she was now Henry's most fav peep in the whole world & everyone knew it, so of course she would be sucked up to by all. Except, of course, there was that whole ignorance about hand-washing for medical procedures.

And so Jane got a nasty infection & demised, putting quite the damper on the partying. Henry declared her to be the great love of his life & sobbed like a baby. Mary was put in charge of her fab funeral & acted as chief mourner (kings didn't attend funerals). For the 1st time in 30 yrs there was no queen for the court & things got dull. Henry could only dote upon & plan for his beloved heir so much. So he poked Cromwell & said, yknow what, I need me a new wife, go find one.

This was not as EZ as it sounded. Henry was old & fat & grumpy & that sore on his leg kept popping open making him grumpier & in a lot of pain & he bellowed at peeps incessantly. That wasn't necessarily that big of a deterrant (later on there would be a King of Spain who was an inbred drooling idiot & still managed to catch a few wives, & I am NOT exaggerating) as there were lots of kings in lousy shape who could catch a bride (like Princess Mary's Louis; o BTW she died shortly after Henry & Jane's wedding, of the consump, & that old lech Brandon promptly stole their son's 14 yo betrothed heiress out from under him & married her himself!). Henry was thinking perhaps a nice widow would do, old enough to not mind his advancing age & increasing infirmity, not to mention his whale-like girth, but still young enough to pop out a spare heir. It never occurred to him that his treatment of his 1st 2 wives or his thumbing his nose at the Pope might be a deal-breaker. No Catholic princess would have him, & no chick w/ half a brian, either!

Cromwell approached Christina of Milan, a nice widow & formerly a Protestant princess of Denmark.

Christina of Milan

Chrissy's response to the proposal was that if she had 2 heads she would be happy to put one at His Majesty's disposal, but since she didn't, alas.  Methinks a sassy wench like Chrissy wouldn't have lasted long w/ Henry, anyhow. Henry asked his pal Francis if there were any nice chicks in France to be had & if so, could he send a few over for his inspection. Francis tendered his regrets. That just wasn't done & the Frenchies were outraged at the suggestion. Finally Cromwell got a nibble from some Protestant peeps in Germany.

Twas a small principality called Cleves & they had a pair of unmarried girls, Amelia & Anne. Henry decided to send over his court painter, Hans Holbein, to get pix of the sisters so he could decide if they were cute enough. No Poloroids yet alas. Holbein did as he was bid & Henry had a look-see & pointed at Anne & said meh I'll take that one, she's pretty hot! So Cromwell made the arrangements & Anne of Cleves got on a ship to come to England & become Henry's 4th wife.

Anne of Cleves
the Holbein portrait

Henry was all excited b/c it had been over 2 yrs since Jane's demise & he couldn't wait to have a nice new snuggle-bunny again. Anne was supposed to make a grand entrance into London but Henry got impatient & hefted his bulk up on a horse & trotted off to surprise his new bride w/ his manly attributes.

There was consternation on all sides. Anne spoke hardly any English at all & Henry no German whatsoever (ya'd think someone would've thunk of that). Henry was always fond of his disguisings so he went incognito & Anne was not impressed w/ this fat English weirdo's familiarities. She was gobsmacked when it was revealed this was her hubby-to-be. Henry was disappointed that she wasn't as hot as Holbein's portrait made her out to be & went storming off bellowing I LIKE HER NOT! & calling for Cromwell posthaste to get him out of this marriage b4 it happened.

Cromwell must've been shaking in his dainties to face Henry's wrath for the 1st time, esp as he had to say NO. They couldn't just send the chick home; twould be insulting & tick off ALL the Germans, not just the Cleves peeps, & Henry needed them as allies against the Catholic League. There was absolutely no grounds for repudiating the betrothal & not marrying her. O twas true that once she was betrothed to the Duke of Lorraine, but that was all legally set aside when that gent wed some other chick. Henry fumed & grumbled & had his dressing changed on his oozy leg & pasted on a smile & went out to welcome Anne officially to London. There was another small, quiet wedding as he wasn't spending a ton of coin on this nonsense.

Then there was the wedding night....

Henry was unable to properly salute the bride.  Tis a miracle Edward was born at all, since apparently he was having these little erectile dysfunctions back when he was wed to Anne Boleyn.  No Viva Viagra, whatcha gonna do? In the morning he complained that Anne of Cleves smelt funny & had slack flesh & he was thinking he was robbed b/c obvs this meant he wasn't her 1st lover & she was no virgin. They didn't have underwire or Spanx in those days so perhaps stuff drifted south a whole lot faster than we're used to. I mean, the chick was only like 25. Dunno how that's proof of prior coitus but meh Henry was getting pretty froot loopy by this pt anyhow so who knows. At any rate, Henry called her a Flanders mare & bellowed I LIKE HER NOT! even louder. Cromwell had a VERY bad case of the cringes.

After a cpl mos Anne's ladies began inquiring if she had any hope of a prince yet. Anne didn't have a clue what that meant, so they had to explain it to her.  Her mother was long demised & apparently no one in Cleves thunk to splain the facts of life to her. So she smiled & nodded when they began tittering about sleeping w/ His Majesty & said, "Ja, ja, he kisses me & says good night sweetheart & in the morning he kisses me again & says good morning sweetheart, is that not enough?" O the pointing & mocking that happened behind her unfashionably wide German skirts! Pretty soon everyone knew the king & queen weren't attempting to make more Tudors & everyone knew what happened to queens that failed to produce princes, so there was much speculation & breath-holding.

The funny thing was that while Henry found it impossible to properly salute Anne, I LIKE HER NOT! was a huge exaggeration b/c he discovered he actually DID like her some. They played cards together & since Anne always let him win, he enjoyed that. He even helped her w/ her English so they could conversate whilst shuffling. Peeps were happy to have a new queen b/c that meant court wasn't so dull w/ nothing to do save listen to Henry whinge about his leg ulcer. The nobility had some place to send their wives & daughters to get them out of their hair & be part of the queen's retinue. The court started rockin' again & one night Henry noticed a sweet young thang amongst the dancers....

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