By Charles Matthews

Thursday, April 15, 2010

19. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 310-326

Part IV, II, "'Alas, What Shall I Do for Love?'" Spring 1532, continued, from "Next day he is early for the meeting of the king's council...." through "...Father Bocking does the price list and keeps the accounts."
Cromwell, whose character is being presented as less amiable than earlier in the novel, bullies Harry Percy into swearing that he didn't sleep with Anne and has no claim to being married to her. Later, at Austin Friars, he tells Rafe, "Now Harry Percy can borrow more money, and edge himself nearer his ruin. A progress which I shall be pleased to facilitate.... I think one day I will have that earldom off him." This is the first time Cromwell has betrayed an ambition to join the nobility. His motivation to crush Percy stems largely from Percy's treatment of Wolsey.

A young woman named Elizabeth Barton has been having prophetic visions about calamity if the king marries Anne Boleyn. Cromwell is keeping track of those who visit her, including More and Fisher. She is now at Canterbury, and has also been visited by the wife of Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, "the king's nearest male relative" and hence a potential claimant to the throne, which Cromwell notes would be "useful to the Emperor, when he comes with his troops to boot out Henry and put a new king on the throne." There have also been "outbreaks of blasphemy" during the mass.

Anne is made Marquess of Pembroke. Many of the new courtiers are Cromwell's "friends from Wolsey days." After the ceremony, at which Thomas Wyatt and Mark Smeaton sing "Alas, what shall I do for love?" Cromwell speaks with Jane Seymour.

The king meets with François I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, taking with him "the possible claimants to the throne, including the Yorkist Lord Montague, and the Lancastrian Nevilles, to show how tame they are and how secure are the Tudors." Cromwell is aware that any treaty that comes from the meeting is little more than show: "Wolsey always said that the making of a treaty is the treaty. It doesn't matter what the terms are, just that there are terms. It's the goodwill that matters. When that runs out, the treaty is broken, whatever the terms are."

Charles Brandon is furious that Henry expects Anne to take precedence over his wife, Henry's sister who was once married to the French king: "You expect her to wait on you? On Boleyn's daughter? Pass you your gloves, madam, and serve you first at dinner? Make your mind up to it -- that day will never come." Henry tells him to go calm down, and sends Cromwell to talk to him. Brandon doesn't believe Anne is chaste, and he tells Cromwell that Anne's mother, Elizabeth Howard, was the first person Henry ever had sex with. Cromwell ignores the stories and tells Brandon to say his wife can't go to France because she is ill. "Anne is unforgiving.... Hard to please, easy to offend. My lord, be guided by me." Being guided by Cromwell rankles with Brandon, but he replies, "We all are. We must be. You do everything, Cromwell. You are everything now. We say, how did it happen? We ask ourselves.... We ask ourselves, but by the steaming blood of Christ we have no bloody answer."

Meanwhile, the French are having trouble with Anne's presence at the meeting, too. They can't find a noblewoman to be hostess to her. Finally, it is decided that Anne will stay in Calais while the king goes to meet François in Boulogne.

Warham has died, and a successor as Archbishop of Canterbury needs to be named. Thomas Cranmer is expected to take his place: "Anne has begun to refer to him as the Archbishop-Elect."

On the way to France, the court stops at Canterbury, where the king and Anne are confronted with Elizabeth Barton, who calls Anne a heretic and tells Henry, "if you enter into a form of marriage with this unworthy woman, you will not reign seven months." A small riot ensues, but Cromwell follows Elizabeth as the monks take her to safety and asks her to tell him if Wolsey is in heaven, hell, or purgatory. He offers to make a substantial donation, and she says she'll "have to talk to Father Bocking," whom a monk identifies as "this lady's spiritual director."

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