By Charles Matthews

Monday, April 19, 2010

23. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 372-395

Part V, I, "Anna Regina," 1533, concluded, from "The word is about town that Thomas More has fallen into poverty."
Still concerned about the fate of John Frith, he goes to see More, who sends his daughter Margaret from the room, saying, "I won't have you in this devil's company." He's joking: "It is Reginald Pole, lying in Italy, who says he is a devil." They talk about Elizabeth Barton, whom More calls "an impostor. She does it for attention." Cromwell thinks, "So he does not like holy maids. But Bishop Fisher does. He has seen her often." When he asks More to come to Anne's coronation, he replies, "'You'll be company for each other, in Hell.' This is what you forget, this vehemence; his ability to make his twisted jokes, but not take them." Cromwell asks More to see the king -- "He will welcome you like a lost child" -- to make a case for Frith, "a pure soul, he is a fine scholar, so let him live." But More won't commit to doing so.

Back home, he tells Helen Barre that he's certain her husband is dead.
"So I could marry again. If anybody wanted me."

Helen's eyes rest on his face. She says nothing. Just stands. The moment seems to last a long time. 
He takes Frith to see Cranmer, and on the way gives him an opportunity to escape, which Frith doesn't take.

The coronation, of which Cromwell is in charge, takes place. Chapuys tells Cromwell, "I don't understand it, nothing do I understand in this benighted country. Is Cranmer Pope now? Or is Henry Pope? Perhaps you are Pope? My men who were among the press today say they heard few voices raised for the concubine, and plenty who called upon God to bless Katherine, the rightful queen."

The success of the coronation causes Cromwell to have fantasies of ambition: "If Henry lives twenty years, Henry who is Wolsey's creation, and then leaves this child to succeed him, I can build my own prince: to the glorification of God and the commonwealth of England. Because I will not be too old.... And I shall not be like Henry Wyatt and say, now I am retiring from affairs. Because what is there, but affairs?"

He goes to see Anne, where Jane Rochford says to her, "Make up your mind to it, madam -- they will never love you, any more than they love ... Cromwell here." He talks to Mary Boleyn about her role in the king's bed as a surrogate for Anne. "She will get another child by Henry, he thinks. Anne will have it strangled in the cradle."

Sitting with Henry and some French emissaries, Cromwell and the king talk to them about the theater of Guido [Giulio?] Camillo, who is now at the court of the French king. Henry says he is sending Stephen Gardiner to France. When one of the emissaries asks who will do Gardiner's job, Henry says "Oh, Cromwell will do it. Won't you?"

Wriothesley says to Cromwell, "you have done what the cardinal could not, and much more beside." Christophe comes with an urgent message from Cranmer. He visits the archbishop and is introduced to his pregnant wife, Margarete. Cromwell is aghast: "Do you know what the king will do to you when he finds you out? The master executioner of Paris has devised a machine, with a counterweighted beam -- shall I draw it for you? -- which when a heretic is burned dips him into the fire and lifts him out again, so that the people can see the stages of his agony. Now Henry will be wanting one. Or he will get some device to tease your head off your shoulders, over a period of forty days." In the end, he brings Helen to keep Cranmer's wife company.

Frith is executed, while Cromwell is out riding with the king. "He has taught Henry to call the Pope 'the Bishop of Rome.' To laugh when his name is mentioned. If it is uncertain laughter, it is better than the former genuflection." Cromwell laughs when he hears Katherine's response to the king's demand that she give him the robes in which Mary was christened for the birth of Anne's child. "Nature wronged Katherine, he says, in not making her a man; she would have surpassed all the heroes of antiquity."

He goes to Greenwich to prepare the rooms where Anne is to give birth. "Proclamations (undated) are prepared, to go out to the people of England and the rulers of Europe, announcing the birth of a prince. Just have a little gap, he suggests, at the end of 'prince,' so if need be you can squash in ... But they look at him as if he's a traitor, so he leaves off." On August 26, 1533, Anne goes to Greenwich.

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