By Charles Matthews

Friday, April 9, 2010

13. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 223-231

Part III, III, "The Dead Complain of Their Burial," Christmastide 1530
The household at Austin Friars is awakened after midnight by William Brereton and "an armed escort." Cromwell has been summoned by the king, who is at Greenwich. Accompanied by Rafe Sadler, Richard Cromwell and Gregory Cromwell, he goes to see Henry, who has had a bad dream about his brother, Arthur, and has gathered people, including Cranmer, to help him interpret it. "The king says, 'During the twelve days, between Christmas Day and Epiphany, God permits the dead to walk. This is well known.'" Henry thinks that Arthur's spirit is restless because his body had to be transported from Ludlow to Worcester in an oxcart. Cranmer opines, "The dead do not come back to complain of their burial. It is the living who are exercised about these matters." But the king wants to know why Arthur has chosen to come back now, twenty years after his death. Cromwell takes the lead:
He bites back the temptation to say, because you are forty and he is telling you to grow up.... "Because this is the vital time," he says. "Because now is the time to become the ruler you should be, and to be sole and supreme head of your kingdom. Ask Lady Anne. She will tell you. She will say the same."

"She does," the king admits. "She says we should no longer bow to Rome."

"And should your father appear to you in a dream, take it just as you take this one. That he has come to strengthen your hand. No father wishes to see his son less powerful than himself."
Afterward, Cranmer congratulates Cromwell on the way he handled the situation: "A deft touch, 'and should your father appear to you...' I take it you don't like to be roused often in the small hours." He also noticed that Cromwell had seized the king's arm. "And Henry, he felt it.... You are a person of great force of will."

Later that day, Cromwell returns to Greenwich where he takes the oath as a councillor to the king. Warham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, administers the oath in the presence of Thomas Boleyn and Thomas More. The latter is crying because his father has just died. Boleyn notices that Cromwell is wearing the turquoise ring left him by Wolsey. More gives him some advice: "Now you are a member of the council, I hope you will tell the king what he ought to do, not merely what he can do. If the lion knew his own strength, it would be hard to rule him."

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