By Charles Matthews

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

25. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 409-432

Part V, II, "Devil's Spit," Autumn and Winter 1533, concluded, from "Sunday: in rose-tinted light they set out from Austin Friars...." Part V, III, "A Painter's Eye," 1534
Elizabeth Barton confesses that she made up all her prophecies. "Something has broken inside her, and he wonders what that thing is." Cromwell reflects, "She has ruined many, if we care to press for their ruin. Fisher, certainly, Margaret Pole perhaps, Gertrude and her husband for sure. Lady Mary, the king's daughter, quite possibly. Thomas More no, Katherine no, but a fat haul of Franciscans."

Charles Brandon has remarried, a girl of fourteen who "was betrothed to his son, but Charles thought an experienced man like him could turn her to better use." Jane Seymour reports that her brother Edward is happy because his wife is likely to die -- the wife his father slept with.

Jane Rochford offers her services as a spy among the Boleyns, and asks Cromwell "what will you do if the queen does not have another child?" She also says that if she dies, there should be an autopsy: "I am afraid of poison. My husband and his sister are closeted together for hours, and Anne knows all manner of poisons." She suggests that he marry Jane Seymour: "The Seymours are not rich. They will sell you Jane, and be glad of the bargain." She reports that the marriage of Henry and Anne is in trouble. His leg is bothering him and he's afraid she will "kick him in the throes of her passion." And: "She says she gets no pleasure from him. And he -- as he fought seven years to get her, he can hardly admit it has staled so soon." She hints that George Boleyn is sleeping with his sister, and that Mark Smeaton is "in and out of everyone's bedchamber."

Thomas Wyatt comes to see Cromwell and asks to be sent back to Italy. He is still obsessed with Anne.

The king hasn't yet decided on what punishment should be administered to the followers of Elizabeth Barton. Brandon advises against forgiving them, but Cromwell says, "Everything they do from now on, they do under my eye." Cromwell sends Rafe to Lady Exeter to tell her to "grovel. Advise her on the wording. You know how to do it. Nothing can be too humble for Henry." On a cold day in November, "the Maid and half a dozen of her principal supporters do penance at Paul's Cross. They stand shackled and barefoot in a whipping wind." Cromwell advises More to make conciliatory movements toward Henry.

Cromwell advises Cranmer that the English "want a good authority, one they can properly obey. For centuries Rome has asked them to believe what only children could believe. Surely they will find it more natural to obey an English king, who will exercise his powers under Parliament and under God."

The Duke of Richmond, Henry's illegitimate son, marries the Duke of Norfolk's daughter Mary. "Anne has arranged this marriage for the glorification of the Howards; also to stop Henry marrying his bastard, to the boy's advantage, to some princess abroad." Anne also expels Mary Tudor from her house in Essex, giving it to her brother George. "There is a young woman walking the roads of the kingdom, saying she is the princess Mary, and that her father has turned her out to beg. She has been seen as far north as York and as far east as Lincoln, and simple people in these shires are lodging and feeding her and giving her money to see her on her way."

Hans Holbein has painted Cromwell's portrait. Chapuys says, "Looking at that, one be loath to cross you." Viewing the painting with his son, Gregory, Cromwell says,
"I fear Mark was right."

"Who is Mark?"

"A silly little boy who runs after George Boleyn. I once heard him say I looked like a murderer." 

Gregory says, "Did you not know?"

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