From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.
Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?
Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Excerpt from Chapter Six – Spring 1514
The elderly Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, stumbled with the words of a Latin address at Mary’s wedding ceremony, on a warm August day at Greenwich Palace, earning a scowl from Henry. She’d renounced her compact with Charles. Taking it upon herself to announce that he had treated her poorly, she asked Henry’s forgiveness, which he reluctantly granted.
Mary glanced at the Duke of Longueville, standing in for King Louis and dressed, like her, in cloth of gold and purple satin. She could see why Jane was so attracted to him. Suave and handsome, he’d been released from the Tower to become the ambassador of France and joined Henry’s privileged inner circle.
The duke returned her glance, a twinkle of amusement in his eye, no doubt in anticipation of the intimate moment they were soon to share. Catherine’s well-intended warning of what was to come simply heightened her nerves and the prospect filled her with dread.
A polite clearing of the throat broke through her reverie. It was time to repeat her vows, in French as rehearsed the previous day. She spoke clearly and with as much sincerity as she could, for this was not the time to suggest she was anything other than a willing bride for so great a king.
The duke took her right hand in his and smiled as he placed a gold ring on her fourth finger, then kissed her. The heavy ring was a little loose and she made a mental note to have a goldsmith improve the size. The kiss surprised her with its tenderness and the sensation of it lingered.
Mary glanced at the watching crowd of guests and saw a satisfied expression on the face of Thomas Wolsey. Behind him, standing well back, was Charles Brandon. Their eyes met for the briefest moment before she turned her attention back to the ceremony.
Queen Catherine, proud to be pregnant for the fourth time, gave Mary a nod of approval. She had been right. A new peace treaty was already declared with France, and the reparation of a million gold crowns more than compensated for the expense of Mary’s dowry.
At last the dreaded time came and she was led to the richly decorated bedchamber, followed by the guests who were to act as witnesses. Bishops and foreign ambassadors, knights and nobles, and even a scarlet-capped papal envoy thronged to watch the strange ritual.
She allowed her ladies to undress her, unplaiting and combing her long hair so it flowed over her shoulders, a sign of her purity. Standing in her white satin nightdress, she crossed her hands protectively over her breasts, then summoned all her strength of will and let her arms fall to her side. Mary did her best to stand straight and proud, despite the many eyes upon her.
Her handmaidens led her to the bed where she lay, eyes closed, trying to focus on repeating the words of her chosen prayer, Deus in adiutorium meum intende Domine ad adiuvandum me festina. O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
She opened her eyes in time to see the handsome Duke of Longueville place his bared leg against hers. The symbolic act of intimate contact drew a raucous cheer from some of Henry’s lusty nobles and a blush to Mary’s face. There would be no going back now her marriage was consummated before so many witnesses.
She closed her eyes again. No man had ever touched her like that before and she sensed her life would never be the same again. Mary continued her repeated psalm, Confundantur et revereantur qui quaerunt animam meam. Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul.
An image drifted into her consciousness. The face of Charles Brandon after she’d said her wedding vows. The special bond shared between them should have meant at least a smile of acknowledgement. Instead all she’d seen in his eyes was a bleak, empty look of deep sadness.
Mary saw no sign of Brandon at the High Mass in the palace chapel, the lavish banquet or the dancing which followed. Even the sight of her brother’s boisterous and increasingly drunken dancing failed to amuse her.
About the Author:
Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter, See links below.