By Charles Matthews

Sunday, April 4, 2010

8. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 116-130

Part II, II, "An Occult History of Britain," 1521-1529, concluded, from "New Year's 1529: Stephen Gardiner is in Rome...." Part II, III, "Make or Mar," All Hallows 1529.
The illness of Pope Clement raises the possibility of Wolsey's becoming pope, which would solve both the king's problem and Wolsey's. But the pope recovers, and the "trial of the king's great matter" goes on. Wolsey seeks out witnesses to the marriage of Katherine and Arthur, hoping to prove that the marriage had been consummated, but the wedding took place 28 years ago and the potential witnesses are dead or doddering. Cromwell reflects "that he cannot imagine anyone, even a hasty fifteen-year-old, wanting to penetrate Katherine. It would be like copulation with a statue." In the end the court rules in Katherine's favor. "They all know the court will never sit again. They all know the cardinal has failed."

The plague returns with the summer, and Cromwell decides not to send his daughters to the country. "It's the wrong decision." Anne and Grace both die.

Wolsey's failure brings about his fall. "So now they swagger into York Place, the Duke of Suffolk, the Duke of Norfolk: the two great peers of the realm. Suffolk, his blond beard bristling, looks like a pig among truffles; a florid man, he remembers, turns my lord cardinal sick."

On All Hallows Day, 1529, Cromwell is overcome with grief for Liz, Anne and Grace, but also because he is certain that the fall of Wolsey means his fall, too.

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