The Reluctant Queen | Teen Ink

The Reluctant Queen

March 16, 2011
By tudor3x8 GOLD, Irvine, California
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tudor3x8 GOLD, Irvine, California
13 articles 3 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"


Author's note: "The Reluctant Queen" is a copyrighted novel that I began writing in June of 2007 when I was fourteen. I finished it in January of 2008 and I recently just sent it to the ABNA contest. Thus far, I have made it out of the first round and am impatiently waiting for the results of the second round. Wish me luck!

Frances Brandon, now Mrs. Adrian Stokes

The Sixteenth of July, 1556 A.D.

My story after my marriage to Adrian Stokes in 1554 has been what many consider scandalous, but to me, it merely seemed a necessity- a boring one at that. But when I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I had hoped it would all change by giving birth to a boy. That would change everything. And that was what I had hoped for, since that would fulfill my duty as a woman. But when I heard the cries of the babe…
“My lady,” says my maid Madge, trying to be cheerful for my sake, “you have a beautiful, healthy girl.”
“A girl?” I question. Perhaps she was mistaken. That couldn’t be possible. I have too many girls all ready, even if more than half of them are living in their grave as I speak.
Madge nods. “A girl,” she confirms. She shows me the wrinkly little babe, still dirty since she has not cleaned it yet and still crying. As I inspect the baby, I can see the bitter, but clear truth: it is clearly a girl.
Sighing, I slump onto the bed and think to myself. I was hoping that today would be a happy birthday. But for my thirty-ninth birthday, God gave me another girl. For twenty-three years, I have tried to have one boy child, but every time I have failed. Oh, God! I have-
Madge breaks into my thoughts. “My lady, with your permission, may I leave to clean the babe?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say. “Go now. I want nothing to do with that child. She reminds me of my failures.” I allow her to leave and she and my other maid Nan go into the room next door, leaving me to think to myself again.
My mind is swirling so fast it is giving me a headache. I, Frances Brandon, have still not fulfilled my destiny and duty. I was supposed to give birth to a son, but, alas, it was another useless daughter. I could not imagine what my husband Adrian Stokes- who hasn’t had much experience at being a father, being but twenty-three- would say or do.
If it was my first husband, Henry, he would have complained to no end on why he, who had lived a good Christian life, should be ignored by God. And how right he was. Having an heir is perhaps my main duty while I live, but I continue to fail. If Adrian comes in and takes his unhappiness out on me, I daresay that his anger is justifiable.
But twenty minutes later, Adrian comes into the room and says with a smile, “Frances, I do believe we should rejoice and be happy. You have birthed a healthy babe.”
I cannot help but smile at Adrian’s optimism. But then my smile fades as I think, at least it was a better reaction than gawping or shouting. Now, if only Madge and Nan can just get out of my room and bring the crying babe with them...
“‘A healthy babe,’” I echo. “Only ‘a healthy babe!’ Adrian, don’t you realize that I have failed you once again?” Oh dear God, I think, that babe is crying again. Madge, please get her out of the room so she can be calmed down…
Madge appears to read my thoughts and takes the babe out of the room for a moment. Perhaps because she was worried we would quarrel and snap at each other, one thing that I always did with my first husband Henry.
“It’s a girl,” I say harshly, still surprised at the fact that he was optimistic. “Surely-”
“Better than a stillborn boy,” says Adrian calmly. “Now we have a daughter that can be the start of a big family. I should like a manor with many little children toddling about. And don’t forget that you are thirty-nine, my dear. I know you feel younger than you are, but you cannot forget your true age. Just be glad that you have had a healthy babe and that you are healthy yourself.” He smiles that big smile again. “But let’s leave it at that. What shall we name her?”
I thought of my other babe with Adrian. I had a stillborn girl who we named Elizabeth. “We shall name her Elizabeth. Elizabeth Stokes.”
Adrian looks confused. No doubt he had forgotten about our stillborn who we both agreed to try to forget. “After the daughter of our late king?” Adrian wonders. “The Lady Elizabeth?”
“No, after our little girl who died last year,” I say. “The one who never got a chance to live.”
Adrian now remembers. He nods vigorously. “A wonderful idea, Frances.” He pauses. “Will you need me to bring anything? A drink, some writing materials, perhaps? Or are you too tired to do that?”
“Nay, my lord husband. I am fine- I’ve always recovered quickly. So perhaps you can-”
I am interrupted as Nan and Madge come back with the tiny babe swathed in blue cloth.
“Here you go, my lady,” Madge says, curtseying, “You may keep her for a few minutes before we give her to the wet nurse.”
Smiling at his perception of Elizabeth’s beauty, Adrian kisses Elizabeth on the forehead. “Look at her red-brown hair,” he says. He gently touches Elizabeth’s tuft of hair. “They look so much like yours.”
“More yours than mine,” I say tartly. “My hair color is more of a chestnut color.”
“True, but they may change colors later,” says Adrian.
I shrug my shoulders lazily. “Maybe.”
Adrian stares at me. He must have noticed that I’m starting to fall asleep just like the last time at childbirth. “You look tired, Frances. I ought to leave you now. I’ll come back in three or four hours with some food. That is, if you want me to.”
“Can you bring some fish, Adrian? I’m still craving fish, even after all these months. I care not what kind, Adrian, but just bring me some fish.”
Adrian nods. “I will, my dear.” He hesitates for a moment. “I’ll go now, Frances. I’ll also talk with your daughter Katherine for you. She wishes to talk to me about some pocket money.”
“Pocket money?” I repeat. “What for?”
“She wouldn’t say. Maybe she wants to buy you a gift for your birthday.”
“Very well then. Give her ten shillings- that should be enough without allowing her to buy some foolish trinket worth a fortune.” With that, I wave Adrian away, just like I did when I was a duchess. I am not anymore, but I still consider myself a duke’s daughter.
Just as Adrian walks out of the room, I start to cry. I must, must have a son. A son to inherit everything. It matters not that I am not longer “Her Grace, the Duchess of Suffolk” and merely “Mrs. Adrian Stokes” now. I still must have a boy.
A moment later, Madge takes Elizabeth away and I fall sound asleep within minutes.
I know not on how long I lay there, but I assume it was about two or three hours since Adrian still had not come back. All I know is that I woke up to the sound of Mrs. Ellen changing the bed sheets. Mrs. Ellen was a maid and nurse to my three daughters, Jane, who is dead, Katherine, now almost sixteen, and Mary, who’s eleven. I see she is carrying a leather-bound book in her arms, which makes Mrs. Ellen do her work clumsily. Ordinarily I would yell at her for doing her work poorly, but my mind is on the book. So familiar looking… I think.
I expected Mrs. Ellen to stay in the room for a moment, but she stays in the room for more than five minutes, doing absolutely nothing but pacing around the room. Clearly she has no idea what to do. I am getting more irritated by the second, but she just looks around awkwardly.
“What is it?” I snap. “Is there something you need to tell me? Something you need to do?”
Mrs. Ellen turns around. “Actually, yes,” says she calmly, “but I know not if you are ready for it.”
“Just tell me what you want. Unless I have to get up, I think I can do what you want.”
“It’s just…” Mrs. Ellen’s voice trails off as she fiddles with the diary in her hands. “I have a-”
I cut her off with a wave of my hand. “Aye, I see you have a book. Well, you can show me now. I can read– I need not your help.”
The grey-haired woman takes the book and shows me. “It is not a book, my lady. It is the Lady Jane’s diary. She told me to give it to you when she believes the time is right.”
Of course! No wonder it looked familiar. It is my dead daughter Jane’s diary. “Give it to me,” I say.
Mrs. Ellen puts the diary on my lap. “If you want to read it now, my lady, feel free to do so. I will leave the room if you want.”
“Please do,” I say, “I like to be alone when I read.” With that, Mrs. Ellen leaves the room with a deep curtsey.
I take the book from my lap and hold it up against the light from the window. It is small- only a hand-span long in width and length- but there were many pages and was as thick as holding four fingers together.
I open the diary to the first page and I was greeted with this:
“Journal of the Lady Jane Grey, the fifteenth of October, 1544 A.D.”
I gasp. This diary was dated from about twelve years ago. Eager to read it, I flip to the next page and then the page after that. I notice that Jane’s handwriting covers two thirds of the book. It looks like fun, I have lots of time in this horrible, stifling, dirty chamber since I shall be in here for forty days until churching, and I am a quick reader, so I decide to try to devour the whole book in one sitting.
And besides, perhaps I can finally figure out what was going on in my daughter Jane’s mind. I never could really understand what that child was thinking. She and I were so different.

October 15th, 1544.
So strange these blank, white pages are. I am more used to books with perfect, black printing on it. Therefore these blank pages speak to me in ways that a regular book cannot.
But never mind with that… I digress. Do you know who I am? I think not. I am the Lady Jane Grey, daughter of Henry and Frances Grey. They are Marquess and Marchioness of Dorset. If that isn’t enough, mother’s father is Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, and her mother, Mary Tudor, was the princess of England and Queen of France. It is a great background to have. I am proud of it when I worry not about my future.
I turned seven years old a few days past and my mother gave me this diary. She says it is so I can record many things I see, such as weddings, births, and the record of my life. My life, mother says, should be a good one. And for once, I shall find what mother says to do not a burden. Indeed, I can write anything I want, for my mother promised she would never look unless I say it’s all right. She also said she would never let anyone know I have this journal.
Apparently, my nurse Mrs. Ellen isn’t allowed to know about this journal, even though my mother knows that Mrs. Ellen is loyal to us and would never betray us. Not even to the King of England himself. Mrs. Ellen says she would rather be burned at the stake like a woman traitor than betray the Greys. So, perhaps, it would fine to call people, “mother,” “father,” and even just “King Henry,” instead of all the formal titles such as “my lady mother” or “my lord father,” “my lord of Suffolk and “His Majesty, the King of England”. And perhaps, in due time, I shall find rhythm in writing in this diary and start to write less formally and write like I am writing in a journal and not to my mother.
I shall intend to make this diary a good record of my life. Although I am but seven, I shall attempt to write in my nicest writing. I know I am considered the brightest girl my age in England, but I do not consider myself smart. Truly, I am no smarter than any others. I must work hard to write in a mature way. I do hope this diary will be proof of my work. So until next time, my new friend.
November 1st, 1544.
We are going to Hampton Court- King Henry’s favorite palace- to dine with the King tonight. Why? Queen Katherine Parr wishes to see most of the King’s immediate family together for once on All Soul’s Day. She had wanted to do it last year, just a few months after she married the king, but it was delayed as the king fell ill. The dinner shall include King Henry’s daughter Elizabeth, his son Edward, my mother, and me. King Henry’s elder daughter Mary was supposed to go, but she could not come. My mother tells me that she has a toothache.
November 2nd, 1544.
Who knew that a royal dinner could have gone so well?
Let me start from the beginning. We got there at around six to greet Queen Katherine, Elizabeth, and Prince Edward. At first, I was in awe at the beauty of Hampton Court- how many workers did it take to build the palace, I cannot image. It was even larger and prettier than I had thought. The dinner was held in the Great Hall near the kitchens that mother told me could feed a thousand people. I was afraid for a moment that we might sit next to a few courtiers, but all of us sat near the king. This, my mother told me, was the king’s wishes.
The first person I talked to was Prince Edward. I have met him a few times before as he is my cousin and he is seven years old like me. Due to the fact that he will be king someday, he is a boy who neither smiles nor laughs at all. Even at seven, he must act like a future king.
My cousin Elizabeth, Edward’s half-sister– Edward’s mother was Henry’s third wife and Elizabeth’s mother was Henry’s second wife- is eleven. I know mother does not particularly like Elizabeth or her mother Anne Boleyn much. She never talks to her the way she talks to the Lady Mary or even Prince Edward.
But that was how Queen Katherine Parr found us when she arrived, in a tight group at the table and my mother with us. Mrs. Ellen was to go with us, but she was not invited- nor was my father, for he has business to attend to in Leicester.
“Elizabeth, Edward,” the Queen said. “If you remember, this is your cousin, Lady Jane Grey.”
Edward said, without smiling or with any emotion, “Good den, Cousin Jane. Your journey was not too arduous, I hope.” Mother told him for me that the journey from our London house by barge it was not as I stayed silent.
Elizabeth added, “It’s a pleasure to see you. I have been looking forward to see you. I think the last time we met was… oh… a year ago? It’s been too long.” She made me feel like part of the conversation as she looked straight at me. “Will you someday join Edward and me in lessons, my dear cousin?”
I was about to talk, but then thought that mother should do the honor for me. I looked at her and she answered for me. “My lady Elizabeth, you see how tongue-twisted my daughter is! In front of new people, she cannot speak; in front of her elders and friends, she speaks without thinking!”
“It is not her fault, my lady,” said the queen, stepping in. “The poor child must be terrified to see so many of her relatives at once. Not to mention, all of them are older than her. But do go on.”
“No matter, your grace– I know not if my daughter will join the Lady Elizabeth and Prince Edward in studies yet, but perhaps someday she will.”
“You ought to think about it, Frances. I have been thinking about asking you to bring your daughter Jane to court for quite a while now- ever since I married the king, in fact.”
Mother brightened up at that. “Really, your grace? Have you thought seriously upon the matter? Why, that’s just-”
The great oak door opened as two figures came out. One was a footman, dressed in the Tudor colors– green and white– and looked like a child next to the other man. “The King!” he boomed.
The other man was larger than life, over six feet tall– a height that made him a giant among men normally half a foot shorter. He was dressed in purple and gold, swathed in furs, and held a cane in his hand. The man had small blue eyes surrounded by fat on his face and his red-gold hair was thinning. The smell from the wound on his leg was bad. Disgusting, even. And as everyone, all at once, stood up and bowed, I knew at once that this was my great-uncle, King Henry VIII.
He was the man who had beheaded two wives for alleged infidelity (whether or not they were guilty, I will never know- no one tells me), who had two children bastardized, and had severed ties with the pope. This was the King of England.
And yet, he acted jovially as he took a seat next to Queen Katherine. He gave her a wet kiss on her cheek and said, “Good den, madam.”
“Good den to you, your majesty.” The queen paused. She motioned toward me and smiled warmly. “Your majesty, as you probably know, this is your great-niece, Jane,” Katherine introduced me to the King. “She is the granddaughter of your favorite sister, Mary, and she has come to join us tonight for dinner.”
“You think I know not that fact, madam?” He teased. Then he added, “God’s bread, I like to think that I know everyone and everything that goes around in my kingdom!” The king turned towards me. “And I know that this great-niece of mine is supposed to be one of the smartest girls her age in England, if not in all of Christendom!” He gave me a wink; that made me blush. He certainly did not seem like the cruel monarch everyone said he was. I suppose I caught him at a good time. Mrs. Ellen was only too pleased to tell me dreadful stories about the king after my mother praised him for any small decision he made. “My lady Jane! I hope you are having a good time.”
“I am,” I said, and in truth I was. The King was satisfied with my answer and we stayed silent until after the main course, as two musicians had just come in to play some music. They played their music nicely and everyone listened to them. Then King Henry looked at my mother. “So, this is your eldest daughter, eh, Frances?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“You have two daughters at the moment, do you not?” asked King Henry. “This little one and a younger daughter, Katherine. My wife tells me that she is four years old.”
“Yes, your grace, I do, but I do hope for a boy. My lord husband and I pray for a son to inherit his titles.”
King Henry grinned again, but his eyes stopped twinkling. Mayhap he was thinking of his own long wait for a son. “I am sure God will answer your prayers, as they have answered mine seven years ago. Nevertheless, my dear Frances, are you bringing Jane to court soon? I do believe that that would be a good thing for you to do for Jane.”
“I believe so. I’ve been thinking of the matter and with your permission- and your lady wife’s permission- I think next year, when she is eight, would be a good time. With your permission, of course.”
“I would be delighted, Frances,” the queen said.
“Good, good,” said the King. He paused to let the servants pour more wine for us and give us our second course, which was mainly fish and eel pasties. The King filled his plate high, almost twice as much food as my mother ate– and she eats a large amount– and asked Elizabeth, “So, my daughter, did you finish that fine piece of needlework for your brother for his birthday?”
“Aye, I did indeed finish it, your majesty.”
The King smiled benevolently. “I am glad!” He laughed gaily. “I know you hate needlework as much as I hate skinny men with poor calves. When I was in my youth, I wished for people to look at my legs, not my face! ‘Look not at my face,’ I told everyone. ‘Nay, look at my legs. Have you not seen a finer calf than mine?’”
Mother laughed along with the King, but then she stared at Elizabeth, probably because she was shocked at her openness towards her dislike of stitching. Her eyes narrowed to slits even though Queen Katherine noticed her anger, but she still glared at Elizabeth with increasing vehemence. But suddenly, she looked at me.
“Don’t you ever dare to be like that,” mother snapped, pinching my arm slightly. “Don’t you ever be so forward… do you understand?”
I knew the dinner was coming to an end and I did not want any scenes with mother, so I nodded. “I understand, mother. I won’t be like that.” And the rest of the dinner went on as smoothly as before.

November 15th, 1544.
My mother canceled this week’s riding and hunting session. So, I am able to have more lessons with my tutors Dr. Harding, who teaches me languages, and John Aylmer, who teaches me history and religion.
Mayhap it is time you learn my schedule each day since it is such an important part of my life, especially after mother found out about how King Henry was educating his children. Although I love my studies, I like not my schedule. Who would? It starts at six in the morning when I eat breakfast- boiled meat, white bread, and ale- and then I learn Latin and Greek with Dr. Harding. After lunch, we learn more languages or read the Bible and a half hour of music and we then eat supper. We finished the day with dancing and tedious needlework.
I share most of these activities and lessons with my sister Katherine, even though she is but four. She is bright in womanly tasks, but she cannot understand a word of French or Latin. Still, I mind not. She is fun to be around even though she is four years old. I’d much rather have her with me than my mother.
Of course, mother favors her because she is the beauty of the family. Aye, she is truly more beautiful than me. Her skin is perfect; mine freckled. And she has red-gold hair, unlike my sandy-red hair. Her eyes are a blue so bright than in certain lights they look bluish-purple. Meanwhile, mine can only be described with one word: hazel.
Sometimes I wish to be her, so I can get more of my mother’s love. Sometimes I wish I was the boy mother and father longed for. But what’s done is done and I cannot change the past. I shall look into the future and hope that I can make mother proud for once.
December 4th, 1544.
Christmas is coming! Hopefully mother gives me something nice, perhaps a book or a string for my lute, but hopefully it shan’t be a dress decked in jewels and lace and all that Catholic fineries that I have slowly come to despise thanks to the secret teachings of my tutor, Dr. Harding. I am not supposed to know all of this about religion, as harboring favors for the ‘New Religion’ is dangerous to do. Therefore, I must not complain about getting a dress to my mother.
December 25th, 1544.
Alas, it was a dress mother gave me, although it was not as fine as some others she has given me. At least this one isn’t so fancy, and is rather pretty, so I would not mind wearing it. I do not believe the reason why it's less fancy is because mother knows I dislike finery, but rather because we have run out of money this year because of overspending.
But I care not. In fact, to please my mother, I shall wear this dark emerald-green dress at the twelfth night of the Yuletide celebration here in Bradgate. I know that my mother will throw an expensive celebration and big feasts despite our near bankruptcy.
And before I forget, my father gave me a wonderful gift. He knows how much I love music, so he gave a new lute in replacement of the other one. It is the most wonderful gift. Perhaps I shall surprise him by playing him a song.
January 8th, 1545.
Thankfully, my mother was quite happy to see me dress in the emerald-green dress she gave me for Christmas. As she nodded, she said, “It is a delight to see you properly clothe yourself, since no one will be taken by your beauty.” Mother herself is dress in midnight blue velvet, complete with light blue accents and lace. She is also wearing three different rings, all expensive, and a pearl necklace.
Since we were in the great hall, already in front of several dozens of guests who were all anxious for entertainment, my father distracted my mother by asking me, “Will you bring down the lute I gave you for Christmas and play some music? I’m sure the guests will love it.”
“Of course, father.” I curtseyed and left. And so I walked slowly, just so I could hear what my mother was saying to father.
“I know not why you asked her that, Henry. Women should not take the tasks of being a musician or a poet or even a painter! Name one woman poet or musician! I cannot. As long as she can coax a tune out of an instrument- virginals or lute or cittern- it’s fine for court life. She should pay attention to dancing … and needlework! Aye, those womanly tasks are...”
I could not here anymore after that since I was going up the stairs to my room. But once I got back, my lute in hand, I played a song that King Henry composed for all the guests here: “Pastime with Good Company”.
As I played my song, I noticed one guest of interest. That guest was my mother’s father, Charles Brandon. He had brought his wife, Catherine Willoughby, and his two sons, Henry and Charles. Grandfather Charles is quite old, more than sixty years. Truly, I think he looks seventy.
Once I finished my song, Grandfather Charles motioned me and my mother to come towards him. When we came, Catherine Willoughby and her two sons left. We sat in a wooden bench at the side of the hall in their places.
Grandfather spoke first. “You play beautifully,” Grandfather said. His voice was cracked with age. “Tell me, Jane, how old are you again?”
“I am seven, Grandfather.”
“Remarkable!” Grandfather nodded. He turned to my mother. “My dear Frances, you have taught your daughter well!”
Mother shrugged. “Aye, in music she is good. But she cannot hunt, father. What use is it if she cannot hunt or ride properly? Hunting is a favorite pastime of the king!”
Grandfather laughed. “It is all right. She’s small and once she grows, she’ll find it easier. You should thank God that He gave you such a wonderful daughter.”
Mother shook her head, perhaps irritated that her father, my grandfather, believed that I was good. “Aye, mayhap for you. But whom I truly cared for was the son that I had before Jane! My son, father! He died before his first birthday, and now I am stuck with this insolent, willful girl and that snip of a girl, Katherine.”
Grandfather looked sharply at mother but smiled at me. “You should still be happy with Jane or else He may take Jane away to teach you a lesson, leaving you with only one daughter and no sons! Besides, you are young and sons may come soon enough.” He turned to me and pinched my cheek softly. “You are doing wonderfully, my child. And… and…” He smiled- he saw his wife coming back. “Catherine! I’m getting tired. I think it’s time to go- will you help me get up?”
Catherine nodded. She offered her arms for grandfather, who took her arms and helped himself onto his feet.
“When will you come back, father?” mother asked.
Grandfather thought for a moment. “When I regain my strength, my dear daughter,” he said. His eyes twinkled. “But at my age, that might not be until spring.”
Mother laughed. “You are not that old,” she said. “Do not underestimate yourself. And I’ll look forward to your next visit.” With that, grandfather, Catherine Willoughby, and their two sons left.
No sooner than when grandfather left out of earshot, mother looked at me with narrowed eyes and a scowling mouth. “You want the glory always, Jane. God’s blood, Jane, will you ever learn humility in the face of your elders?”
“Mother, what did I do wrong? Tell me. I simply did what father told me and then told grandfather that I was seven.”
“Then you mustn’t have realized that you were staring at your lord grandfather,” she snarled. “And that you unwittingly smiled when he complimented.”
I looked down at the ground. “Did I, mother? Then I am sorry. I won’t do it again.” I fell to my knees, trying to give a demure appearance. “Please forgive me.”
Mother yanked my chin up so I could look at her right in the eye. We stared at each other for a moment. “You are forgiven,” she said. “But if you do it again, you will not get off so lightly. I’ll give you a sound birching if you forget to behave modestly. By God’s wounds, I swear-”
Then mother stopped talking. Turning pale, she left the room without saying anything. Father tried to call her name and ask her what was wrong, but she refused to say anything. All she did was hold her mouth.
February 1st, 1545.
Nearly a month has passed and mother still hasn’t said anything. I think father knows what the problem is, for he often tells people that mother is all right and just needs time to relax. All I know is that she has been sick for the past month, but it seems like that every night she is sick. But every morning she is healthy enough to eat breakfast and wake up at the same time.
February 21st, 1545.
Mother has told me what was bothering her at the Yuletide celebration. She is with child.
Mrs. Ellen says that the babe will come in June or July and we must pray for a boy. That is so I don’t inherit the title of Marchioness of Dorset, which, in reality, the title goes to my husband, who will get to be Marquess of Dorset. And that would be terrible, because another family will get the title. The Grey family would lose their name in titles. So everyone in my family is praying for a boy.
March 5th, 1545.
There hasn’t been much exciting happening in the last month. It’s been all the same. Get up early, study, eat, dance, study more, and then go to bed. If I mess up in my studies or when I do sports with mother and father, then I must listen to father berate me and feel mother’s heavy hand on my face. That is all, really.
I guess you can say that the main thing that will happen this year is that my mother decided that I am going to court on September of this year. Although I am not interested in going and would rather stay here in Bradgate, a beautiful country manor, my sister Katherine wants to go, even though she is but four. She’d prefer a day in a hectic day in Whitehall or Hampton Court than a day at in Charnwood Forest for walking or even slow riding on a gentle pony. Just the scenery of Bradgate or Charnwood Forest would be better than the enormous crowds of court. That is why I prefer to spend my day with Dr. Harding. I just cannot understand what Katherine wants.
“Can’t I go?” asked Katherine in a childish voice when we were at supper. “The cook says she knew a girl who went to court at five.”
Mother told her, “You are much too young. We shall bring you mayhap when you’re seven or eight, at earliest. That girl who Bess was referring to was probably born in court or to a man and woman who frequent the court. We’re bringing Jane to court so she can learn perfect manners.”
“Manners?” Katherine asked. “What is that?”
“It is the correct way of acting,” mother said. “Etiquette.”
“Oh… what is wrong with Jane’s etiquette?” Katherine wondered, also pronouncing ‘etiquette’ completely wrong. Katherine seemed to realize that, so she smiled charmingly to mother. Even at the age of four years old, Katherine is a natural at charming people.
“She forgets to look down modestly and she talks much too loudly. It is just not… ladylike. Hopefully, the Queen will help Jane. Her manners are refined and quiet- just like a lady should have. And I should know. Do you not agree, Jane?”
I nodded my head. “Of course, mother. You are right.” What I really wanted to say was, “No, you are wrong. Wrong, I tell you! I am completely fine!” Naturally, though I could not say such a thing, for, if I did, I would be beaten, though justly.
“I will ask Mrs. Ellen to help you learn courtly manners. Mrs. Ellen, let me give you a list of things I want you to help Jane with… ah!” She gave Mrs. Ellen paper with mother’s scrawny writing on it. “You must teach Jane how to react around the King and Queen, how to eat at the table, and how to properly address other people of rank. Understand, Mrs. Ellen?”
“Yes, my lady.”
Mother nodded and rose to her full height, as if to remind Mrs. Ellen of her authority. “Good. Everyone assures me that Jane is exceptionally bright for her age and is on par with the Lady Elizabeth and Prince Edward. I expect nothing less from Jane than seeing her become a refined Christian lady. Do you understand?”
Mrs. Ellen nodded. “I do, my lady.”
“Good. Then you may go. Start teaching Jane today. She’ll need all that practice, I’m afraid.”
June 14th, 1545.
Mother has been brought into the birthing chambers early in order for the maids to get some peace. She has been buying new furnishings for the room and rearranging decorations for “my babe, the son, and the heir”. Indeed, she attempts to go in there so much it’s as if she gets no sleep.
All of the servants laugh at this. “This is normal,” one maid named Maud told me, while folding the linens. “It is the nesting instinct.”
“But is it normal for one to ask for all blue things?” I asked her. “I thought they just want new furnishings for the baby.”
Maud chuckled. “You know that your lady mother wants a boy desperately and hopes for a boy.” She walked to the other side of the room to open the windows for the breeze to come into the stuffy chamber where my sister Katherine slept.
“Why not crimson? I’ve seen the king wear crimson. Surely that’s a good color for a boy.”
“I know not, but I agree- crimson would be good.” She paused to put the white linens in a basket. “Now, be a good girl and don’t tell your mother we talked. I am supposed to be at the stables now instead of here talking to you.”
June 29th, 1545.
Mother has been in labor for the past five hours. Mayhap she is being soft, but still she screams in pain, sweating, every fifteen seconds and yells for a son. Sometimes she asks for God or Jesus Christ to spare her pain, let the babe come out right away. “Let it be dead or alive, I care not,” shrieked mother.
Sometimes, she takes the Lord’s name in vain, and then our most pious maids have to remind her to beg forgiveness to God after the birth is over. But mother is too wrapped up in her pain to care about taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Although she has been mean to me and rarely shows affection, she is still my mother and I shall pray for her to live. I need her. In truth, our entire family needs her.
Later, around nine o’clock...
My mother’s babe has been born, and it was a disappointment.
Not only is it a girl, it is defected. Poor babe, it’s a hunchback. At least it has the classic name of Mary, named after the Lady Mary, who mother is close to, and perhaps her mother, Mary Tudor, whom mother loved. It could’ve been Blanche, which is a terrible name for a child.
Mother is in a petulant mood, says Mrs. Ellen, so I better not go near her for a day or so. Only Katherine, innocent Katherine, doesn’t seem to understand how serious this disaster is.

July 4th, 1545.
I visited little Mary and mother today. Other than the hunchback, Mary is quite adorable. She has sparkling blue eyes and a frizz of auburn hair on the top of her head. Thank God- she has no freckles but her skin is unnaturally dark.
Mother is feeling much better. In fact, she appeared happy that I visited her. She must be feeling a little tired still, though, because she didn’t complain much. She doesn’t even sit up on her bed.
“How are your studies?” Mother asked with a tired scowl. “Do your teachers like your progresses?”
I nodded and remembered to lower my eyes. “Yes, Dr. Harding is happy with my progress. Right now I am translating a psalm. From Latin into Greek,” I added, trying to sound modest.
Mother seemed a little pleased, but still looked like she had some doubt on her mind. “How is your needlework progressing?”
I attempted a smile, but it turned out as a twitch. “I believe it is going well. It is less sloppy than before.”
Mother nodded. “What of your dancing, child? Are you properly learning the steps, or is your teacher being soft with you again?”
“He is not being soft with me anymore,” I said. “He makes me do the dances two extra times just to make sure I know how to do them. He says I am improving.”
Mother changed the subject. “How is Katherine?”
“She’s fine, my lady mother, but she wants to see you. She’s confused. Katherine doesn’t understand why everyone is so upset about Mary’s birth.”
“I see,” said mother gravely. “So she is the only one who is not upset about the birth?”
I nodded.
Mother opened her mouth to say something, but she closed her mouth as she burst into loud tears. Never before had I seen mother in such heart wrenching tears.
“Mother, what is it?” I asked.
“Nothing, nothing at all,” she said through her tears. “Only that I have failed yet again to bear a son. Oh, why must God be so angry at me?”
This was a first. I had thought of mother as a harsh, cold woman who never felt compassion for anyone but herself or perhaps father. A thought was implanted in my mind- perhaps if mother had a son, she would be happy. She would treat all her child kindly because she would feel no more pressure to produce an heir.
“Don’t cry, mother,” I soothed. “You will have a son.”
Still mother continued to cry. “Like you can control God,” she whined. “All I want is one son. Instead of a houseful of sons, I am stuck with two daughters who are so different from me and a newborn girl.”
I stayed silent, unsure if I should say anything. Mother looked at me once after she cried for five minutes straight. She appeared embarrassed about the fact that I had seen her cry. “You may go now.” And then she let me go with a wave of her hand, still crying.
July 16th, 1545.
Mother’s birthday is today- she is twenty-eight. Although she is not thin, I believe she still looks beautiful and almost young- like she is only in her early twenties. She has thick chestnut hair, small hazel eyes, and a stocky build, although neither Katherine nor I inherited any of these traits.
August 5th, 1545.
Mother is out of bed and has recovered all of her strength. She is, of course, delighted, because now she can give Mrs. Ellen some tips on when I go to court. And I have no doubt this means she will remind me of my duties of marriage and bringing glory to her and our House.
August 27th, 1545.
I have received sad news. Grandfather Charles Brandon, my mother’s father, is dead. He died a few days past at Guildford. He was sixty-one.
I did not see him die at his deathbed, for I had a fever at the time, but my sister Katherine, my mother, Grandfather Charles’s wife, and my mother’s sister Eleanor did.
My sister told me later that when Grandfather Charles died, mother collapsed to the floor, sobbing. I have never seen mother so distraught, but Katherine insists that it is true. She also said that Grandfather Charles told each person standing by him something special. Katherine said that his wife, Catherine Willoughby, was his ‘jewel among jewels’, while he thanked both mother and Eleanor for being such dutiful daughters and surpassing his expectations. Lastly he told mother that my sister Katherine was the “sweetest daughter” he’d ever seen, while calling me the “most astute of them all”.
I know I told mother I’d be modest from now on, but knowing that Grandfather Brandon called me “astute” just makes me want to beam with pride. Knowing that someone thinks good of me makes me feel well and good.
September 1st, 1545.
We are at court! It’s so different here, as one is never alone. Indeed, every corner seems to have at least a lord or a lady sitting there and mayhap even a shadowy figure, watching everyone. Even the food is nicer than at home, which is surprising, since mother is always worrying about the amount of food served to our guests. There is fish with delicious herbs, beef not blanched, eels, jellies in milk, and many different kinds of bread and meat.
My bedroom here in Greenwich is a small one that I share with mother. All it fits are two beds and a chest for clothes. Mrs. Ellen has an even smaller room near us. It’s neat and clean, however, so I have no objections as it also has a window seat, perfect for reading books and writing in this beautiful diary.
Yet mother is still complaining about the size and why “the daughter of Mary Tudor, the Queen of France, should get such a small room”. But she knows better than to complain to other people.
September 9th, 1545.
Today I have spent my first day in the classroom with Prince Edward and all his boy schoolmates, including Lord Hastings, my grandfather’s energetic ten year old son Henry Brandon, the Viscount Lisle’s sons Robert and Guildford Dudley, and the Earl of Hertford’s son Edward Seymour, who is called ‘Ned’ in private in order to be distinguished from Prince Edward. The Lady Elizabeth is supposed to have lessons with us, but she was unfortunately exiled by her father. The reasons for her exile are unknown though. I have a feeling that the reasons should never be known to any but Elizabeth and King Henry.
We spend most of our time with Dr. Cheke learning mathematics, history, the Classics, and languages. We learn nothing about religion in our lessons because Dr. Cheke does not want any great arguments about it, but we still have quite a bit to learn about. I must say, though, I am glad I was put into a class with almost all male students. If I was in a class with all girls like the Earl of Hertford’s daughter Lady Jane Seymour and Mary Sidney, I think I’d go mad. Most girls my age think nothing of studying and think more about clothes, jewelry, gossip, and perhaps marriage. It would be a terrible day if mother ever decides that my lessons with boys were making me wild and without manners. Boys can be so much more interesting than girls, especially in the classroom.

September 21st, 1545.
Mother and I visited the Queen earlier today. Here is what happened:
We came into her room and- just like how mother told me to- I curtseyed for the Queen.
Queen Katherine smiled and lifted my head. Now I could see my surroundings. We were in Katherine’s bedchamber, which was large and bright. The walls were covered in tapestries and wax candles adorned on the table even though it was afternoon. Katherine was sitting near her great window on a stool. Beside her was a nightstand with what seemed to be ten books and three stools for friends. In the other corner on a wooden bench sat my mother and a handsome, robust looking woman in rich clothing. “You need not be afraid; there is no one here,” said Katherine. Her brown eyes seemed kind, warm, and friendly. Her eyes seemed like I could truly trust her and not fear her. “Just me, your mother, the Countess of Hertford– Anne Stanhope, and you.”
“No spies?” I whispered.
Queen Katherine looked around but then laughed. “I hope not.” She paused for a moment as a little greyhound puppy came from the corner to Katherine’s arms. “Oh and how could I have forgotten? We do have another person in this room– my greyhound Bessie. My stepdaughter the Lady Elizabeth gave her to me for Yuletide last year when she found the pup on a London street and gave her to me.”
“How kind of the Lady Elizabeth!"I said as I started to pet the skinny little dog. “I have a few dogs at home, but none of them are greyhounds. They are all French bulldogs. Or hunting dogs.”
“Perhaps you should ask your mother for a greyhound for Yuletide!” teased Katherine.
I shook my head. “I would prefer a new book,” I admitted sheepishly. “A big, fat one.”
Katherine smiled. “Here in court, my dear, I could give you a ‘big, fat’ book every week. I could even give you a few coins just to go buy a book or two in London as a weekly pension.”
“Could you, your grace?” I asked.
“Indeed, I could. I’ll just need to have permission from your lady mother first.”
That made both of us chuckle for a moment, but then as we just stared at one another and then laughed again when little Bessie yawned. “I’ve heard you are good with languages and you can speak fluent Latin, English, and Greek and that you have some slight knowledge of French and Italian,” Katherine said, attempting to make a conversation. “Is this correct?”
I nodded.
Katherine then took a book from her nightstand. “Very well then. Will you read this page for me? Your mother tells me you like the work of Socrates,” Katherine said. “This is Ion. it is a dialogue between Socrates and Ion, a professional performer of poetry. It is in Greek… this is not too hard for you, is it?”
“No.”
“Good,” said the queen. “Then will you be able to read it to me?”
“It is your majesty wishes.”
So I was reading the page, looking anxiously at my mother every twenty seconds, and then went on with the story. “‘Socrates: the reason, my friend, is obvious. No one can fail to see that you speak of homer without any art of knowledge. If you were able to speak of him by rules of art, you would have been able to speak of all other poets; for poetry is a whole. Ion: yes. Socrates: And when anyone acquires any other art as a whole, the same may be said of them. Would you like me to explain my meaning, Ion?
“’Ion: yes, indeed, Socrates. I very much wish that you would, for I love to hear you wise men talk.
“’Socrates: Oh, that we were wise, Ion, and that you could truly call us so, but you… actors, and the poets whose verses you sing, are wise, whereas I am a common man, who only speak the truth. For consider what a very common place and trivial thing is this which I have said- a thing which any man might say: that when a man has acquired knowledge of a whole art, the enquiry into good and bad is one and the same. Let us consider this matter- is not the art of painting a whole?’”
I tried to pause for a breath, but just then, the King interrupted and entered the room as mother, Queen Katherine, and I stood up to him.
“Hello, my lady wife!” boomed the King. He looked at me. “The Lady Jane Grey, eh?”
I curtseyed, and said, “Yes, your majesty.”
“You read beautifully,” complimented the King. “We could-” He paused for a second. He started to chuckle. “We are not in public, so why should I refer to myself as we? The royal plural ‘we’ should be banned in private.”
“It should be banned if that is what your majesty wishes,” mother said. “And you should carry on with what you were saying.
And so the king did. “My Lady Jane, I could hear you from outside the chambers. That piece was from Ion, is it not?”
I nodded. I was too scared to say anything. I feared I might get on his bad side.
But then he looked at my mother. “You’ve have done well.”
“She can do better, your majesty. Look at your own daughter, the Lady Elizabeth! Sharper than nails, that girl is. Why, she could engage and win in a battle of wits with anyone! My daughter cannot.”
“I disagree with you, Frances. Jane is doing well enough. I’ve heard she can speak Latin, Greek, our native English, some French, and soon to learn Italian, am I right? And with a fine hand at music, I am told!”
Mother nodded. “She is relatively fluent in Latin and Greek, but she still needs to learn it more in order to be completely fluent. Her tutor tells me that she uses very short sentences. But she will and must learn.”
“But Jane is nearly eight years old, right? She is still young. Why, if she learns at this rate, she may learn Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, German, and her native English by the time she is seventeen!” The King roared with laughter. “Tell me, Frances, by the time she is finished with her studies, what do you plan for her to learn?”
“I hope she will learn mathematics, history, theology, geography, Latin, Greek, French, Italian, the Classics, and, of course, the wifely tasks every lady should know.”
The King looked pleasantly surprised. “That is quite a lot of work, Frances.”
“But we have only modeled her from your own daughter, your grace. Every day we hear reports on how bright the Lady Elizabeth is. We like emulating royalty, sir. Surely… it is the right thing to do.”
The King smiled. “It is the right thing to do if you can manage it properly.”
November 1st, 1545.
Today, when I studied with Prince Edward, I learned a new mathematic trick. As you have probably heard, my friend, Edward is a smart boy and helps me with subjects that I could be smarter in. So he therefore teaches me a trick on how to multiply large numbers like twenty-one times twenty-one and thirty-four times thirty-four.
I’d tell you, but Edward says it is a secret I must not tell anyone, not even dear Dr. Aylmer. I think it is probably because Edward is proud of his new trick that he learned all by myself.
November 21st, 1545.
I went to see Queen Katherine again earlier today because she wanted to show me her book. “This,” she said proudly, “is my writing.”
I opened the book to the front page. “’Prayers and Meditations, collected out of Holy Works by the Most Gracious and Virtuous Princess, Katherine, Queen of England’,” recited I, putting the book down on a table. “May… I speak freely, your grace?”
“Of course you may, Jane.” Her voice was warm and rather soothing, so I knew that I could tell her the truth.
“I mean no offense, madam, but I think the title is too long,” I admitted. “And I understand not how you called yourself ‘Princess’ and ‘Queen of England’ at the same…” My voice trailed off and I looked down at the ground. What was I thinking? How could I, an eight year old child, criticize this great woman of the land? “Forgive me, your grace– I was getting ahead of myself.”
But the queen didn’t seem to mind. “I realize it’s a bit wordy, but I just couldn’t sum it all up into a few words! What do you think is worse: ‘Katherine’s prayers’ or ‘Prayers and Meditations, collected out of Holy Works by the Most Gracious and Virtuous Princess, Katherine, Queen of England’?”
“’Katherine’s prayers’ is much worse,” I admitted. “Your grace… is it possible if I could read your book someday?”
“I would be truly honored, Jane, if you would.”
I stayed silent, but I noticed another book that was seated on a table. “What is this?” I asked.
“This is a book about the New Faith,” said Queen Katherine. “I find it much fun. I enjoy arguing with His Majesty, you see, about the doctrines of the Catholic faith and the New Faith, for it makes him ignore the pain in his leg and makes him feel better. He enjoys such discourse and dislikes people who give him no challenge in these arguments. But one has to know when to stop, of course.”
I realized that the Queen had to be extremely careful about arguing with the King, but I said nothing, for I was sure that she knew she had to be careful.
“Would you like to see some of my most favorite gowns?” Queen Katherine asked suddenly. I nodded and we left her room and went to her large, magnificent closet. She opened the door and I saw mayhap about twenty brilliantly gorgeous dresses in all colors– midnight blue, greens, yellows, pinks, reds, purples– and decorated in all types of jewels– pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds. “These,” the Queen began, “are one of my favorites. I inherited some from the King’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, may she rest in peace.”
“But she is… dead. Do you not feel unlucky inheriting them?”
The Queen smiled sadly and closed the door. Guiding me back to her room, she said, “Catherine Howard made her own demise. Although she was about seventeen when the King executed her, she still was old enough to know that adultery is wrong. Nay, wearing her dresses does not bother me, so long as I inherit not her impulses and ill sense.”
“Do you believe that the charges against her were true?”
Queen Katherine’s eyes widened for a moment. She said hesitantly, “Listen, my dear lady Jane, what you are asking is serious business. I should not even speak one word about what happened to her with you. Not only was such a scandal damaging to her memory and the king’s trust, but a child like you should not know anything about it. I forget that you are only eight years old, Jane, but you are such an honest and intelligent child that I do love talking with you. So I will tell you this: I was at court when it happened, and I do believe that she did…” Her voice trailed off. “We should not speak anymore of this subject, for walls, you see, Jane, have good ears, even if tapestries and stained glass line those walls.”
December 18th, 1545.
Mother has decided it is time to go home for the holidays, for father needs mother to help him get Bradgate Manor ready for guests. I shall have to say good-bye to Queen Katherine now. I look forward to it not at all.
February 5th, 1546.
Since the holidays are over, mother has planned for the next time we shall go to court. At first, she thought of going in March again, but she changed her mind, saying he shall go back to court in May or June when the weather is nicer since this year is rather cold.
But the biggest news, however, is the accusation of a woman named Anne Askew, who is a friend of the Queen and of my late Grandfather Charles’s wife Catherine Willoughby. Mistress Askew is being accused of heresy.
I asked Mrs. Ellen what she did wrong, and she said, “She has not been going to Mass. In fact, she forgot that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus.”
“I see,” said I gravely, even though I do not really believe in the ‘body and blood’ either, but I dare not say that aloud since it was heresy. How could a piece of bread and wine turn into God? Maybe I’m just not old enough to understand how it does… “Will she confess?”
“Perhaps. The rack makes you confess, even though you have nothing to confess.”

February 9th, 1546.
Today mother has decided that I will now learn Italian and that perhaps in two or three years– once I master Latin, Greek, Italian, and French– I will learn Hebrew.
March 2nd, 1546.
I just found out that there may be implications that Mistress Askew has named the Queen Katherine in her confession. But I pray to God that it does not.
Although I do not want Mistress Askew to be tortured to the point of being disabled, I pray that she doesn’t say any names. I hope that the torturers will be tolerant and spare her pain. Mrs. Ellen even told me that it was appalling that Anne Askew is being tortured at all! God save her and God Save the Queen! I shall pray for them both.
March 13th, 1546.
My little sister Mary started to try to walk yesterday, except she stood up, fell down, and then crawl unevenly. It makes me sad, because it seems like that if she didn’t have the hunchback problem, she could be a precocious child, mainly because she sings. No words we recognize, but she sings melodies of the songs I play on the lute or on the virginals. Perhaps I can teach her, but I confess that I am not that good of a singer… so perhaps I shall only teach her music.
March 19th, 1546.
Excellent news! Mother has decided that she and I will go back to court at the beginning of April. I suppose Bradgate is dreary for her compared to the finery of Greenwich or Hampton Court.
I shall miss being at Bradgate, but at least I will be with Queen Katherine. She and I get along so well. I cannot think of one time where she has been disappointed or angry at me.
April 18th, 1546.
Queen Katherine is helping a little bit at my education, just like mother wants. But with our daily visits after the Queen teaches me, Queen Katherine tells me different things that have nothing to do with education. Sometimes I wonder why she confides to me, when she has many other ladies-in-waiting who are just as loyal as I am and much wiser than me.
Like today, she whispered to me, “Sometimes, I feel like I’m in danger all the time.”
“How? The King loves you, does he not?” I asked. I was pretending to be at my stitching, just in case any spies were watching. Court, I realize, can be dangerous. “He will not hurt you, surely.”
“Aye, he may care for me, but some people do not. Like Wriothesley and Gardiner,” whispered the Queen. She too was doing needlework, but all she was doing was fidgeting with her cloth.
I decided to change the subject. I felt that Katherine did not need to talk about such dangerous matters. “Your grace, would you mind telling me about your life? I mean, before you married the King?”
“Of course I will tell you,” she said. She put down her needlework and started off. “I was born in 1512. I had two siblings, Anne and William. Before I turned eighteen, I married a man about fifty years my senior. His children were twenty years older than me and called me their ‘child mother’ or ‘sister’ as a joke. I liked Lord Borough well enough, but living as a nurse at that age is not pleasant at all. After being more of a nurse than a wife to Lord Borough, I married another man, Lord Latimer, also old, but our age different was a less. He was in his late thirties.”
“And how old were you then, if you don’t mind my question, your grace?”
“I was twenty-two years old, Jane. My marriage with Lord Latimer was fine. He was kind and generous to all, including me. I grew to care about him, and he grew to like me too. I had a great relationship with his wife’s brother’s daughter. I was married to Lord Latimer for nine years, until 1543, when I was thirty-one. I came into the household of the Lady Mary and that was where His Grace, your great-uncle, saw me for the first time.”
There was one thing I wanted to know, but I could barely ask. “Madam,” I said my voice so low it was barely audible, “I have heard that you were going to marry Thomas Seymour, but the King wanted to marry you. Is that true?”
The queen looked at me with wide eyes as she put down her needlework for a moment. “Where have you learned such things, child?” asked the queen, her voice also low. “Such words are extremely dangerous here.”
I attempted at an Elizabeth-like answer, as if I was as sharp and witty as Elizabeth. “I have heard it whispered around court. Gossip, you may say.”
Katherine nodded and started stitching again. “I see. Unfortunately, I also see that I must tell you the truth now, lest an enemy of mine twist the facts and make you despise me. It is indeed true, but you must not tell anyone. I wanted to marry Sir Thomas Seymour, but the king asked for my hand in marriage, and I could not refuse, for more reasons than one. I love Thomas, but I also adore the king.” She paused. “I beg of you, Jane, do not tell this information to anyone, even your lady mother or father. Understand?”
“Your grace, I do. I completely understand,” I then heard a rustle outside, and thought, what if that is a spy? The queen will be ruined if I go on and it’ll be my fault! So I said, “So you are married to the King now.”
“Aye, precisely,” said the Queen. “I adore the king, and I would do anything for him.”
After that, we were silent for a few minutes before the anxiety that a spy might be behind the tapestries got to me. “Your grace, with your permission… may I be granted leave?”
The Queen nodded. “Of course, Jane. Go ahead. I’ve kept you long enough.” She must have noticed my nervous hands and said, “You may go now if you’d like. Come back tomorrow, if you like.”
June 19th, 1546.
I was going to tell you earlier that Mistress Askew has signed her confession and it didn’t say anything about anyone else, but I was too ill with pleurisy to write.
July 17th, 1546.
The Queen has a lady-in-waiting, Lady Ward, who went to the Anne Askew execution yesterday. Lady Ward told me what happened, and I shall write it down as best as I can:
"It was in Smithfield,” said Lady Ward. She wearily sat down in a chair and let her old head drop back. “The air was great- warm and not at all windy. There were many people, but thankfully no children under seven or so. Some people were jeering at Mistress Anne and John Lascelles, some prayed, and some seemed to cry. I heard a few say ‘God bless you’.”
“What about you, Lady Ward?” I asked. I myself felt like I wanted to cry. To hear a young lady about twenty-five was going to die was just heart-breaking.
“I was silent, Lady Jane, because my husband was there and I didn’t want him to see me cry. He is a fervent Catholic. They brought out Anne Askew, so broken from the torture she endured that she couldn’t even walk, so they brought her in a high-backed chair. Her body was thin, her face pale and blue, her hair limp, but her eyes sparkled.”
“Her eyes sparkled?” I asked.
Lady Ward cracked a smile. “Hard to believe, isn’t it? A young woman being dragged to the stake… and her eyes are sparkling as if she just met her bridegroom.”
“It is,” I said.
“But it is true. I saw it myself, my lady Jane.” Lady Ward paused. “Her eyes sparkled as if she was proud to die under her Protestant faith. So they brought out Anne Askew in a chair and lighted the fire. She looked up, but I daresay I know not on whether it was to get away from the pain or it was to think about heaven, where she wanted to be. She was not required to have a speech or pray, but she announced bravely to the people there that she had no regrets. Let’s see if I could remember her speech.” Lady Ward paused again.
“‘Dear people, although I wish to prolong my life, I have no regrets that I am to die today. I still believe that the bread and wine at mass doesn’t turn into God’s body and blood. No miracles happen at Mass! But I am happy that I am to die as a martyr and I long to die for God. We all die someday, but I shall die for God.’”
After this, I cannot remember what she muttered, but I do remember what she said after: “After the man lighted the gunpowder, it exploded into a big cloud of smoke and you could smell the burned flesh, burning smoke in the air. Thank God for the warm air that day- Anne Askew and John Lascelles burned quickly. Isn’t it amusing, my lady Jane, how much pain humans go through when they burn to death, but to others watching them, it seems like a short while?”
“Not really, Lady Ward,” I admitted. “I find it ghastly.”
“Maybe you will find the irony when you are my age. You are much too young to find humor in such a ghastly situation.”
“I am not that young, Lady Ward. You can even say I will reach a marriageable age in four years. Less than that, really.”
“So you are eight and a half, Lady Jane. I, on the other hand, am nearing my sixtieth birthday, and Mistress Askew was burned in her twenties,” Lady Ward said. “Now let me finish my story lest I forget what I am talking about. Mistress Askew and her friend were burned in less than five minutes before the gunpowder exploded. In case you know not, the gunpowder was used to make a quick end for Anne and John in order to finish them off before they felt any pain. And that was how Mistress Anne and John Lascelles died.” Lady Ward left after this, leaving me to think and to cry about this young lady dying. If I was in her place, would I have her courage to not even to yell when they lit the fire?

July 19th, 1546.
I have decided that if I was in Anne Askew’s place, I would have done the same. I might’ve told a small lie on the rack, just to get away from the pain because I am scared of pain, but I would die for God just as she did. To die for God… a tremendous thing. While I do not understand everything yet about faith, I do know that to die for God is glorious. I am sure it will deliver me straight to Heaven.
After all, does the Bible not say that with God all things are possible?
I know I am not even nine years old yet, but I know that dying for God is a great thing. But am I actually willing to die for Him, right now? I don’t know. I want to live because I know I have many years ahead of me and have many things that I have yet to experience. I know that I am scared of pain… if death was painless I might be able to handle it and die for God. But what if dying for God meant I had to go through physical pain? I don’t know. I really don’t know if I could go through that.
But I know that I should like to die for God if I had a choice of what to die from. I would rather die a martyr than a betrayer to God and my King.
July 20th, 1546.
It is so much fun to work with Prince Edward and his other school boys, although the words of Latin are easily translated into Greek for me. Greek is becoming almost as easy as English.
It’s amusing, really, because many of the other boys in the classes have trouble learning Greek or even Latin. Prince Edward’s whipping boy Barnaby Fitzpatrick barely even pronounce his Latin words correctly.
July 24th, 1546.
What has just happened today is just too much to say in one sitting. Now I understand why my mother though that this journal would be a good idea.
You see, a paper was dropped in a corridor of the Queen’s apartments. I did not find it- Lady Tyrwhitt and Lady Lane were the ones with the, shall we say, deplorable honor- but I was there when they found it, as they were going to stroll in the gardens. They knew it was an important document from the seal since it bore the Great Seal of England, so Lady Tyrwhitt gave it to the Queen while Lady Lane went to find out who dropped it.
The look on Queen Katherine’s face when she opened it will terrify me until the day I die. Her face was a look of consternation, horror, and agony all rolled into one. She said, “The King has signed my arrest. Oh, God, what will happen to me?” She screamed a scream that would terrify even a monster. “Am I to be executed then? Just like… oh, God... Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard? And…” Her voice trailed off as she no doubt was remembering Henry’s other victims- Thomas Cromwell, George Boleyn, George Boleyn’s wife Jane Rochford, Thomas Culpeper, Sir Thomas More, Francis Dereham…
Lady Lane whispered, “Her own husband. How could he?”
“It must be because she argued too well and too insistently against him,” replied Lady Tyrwhitt. “You know as well as I do that he hates when he is beaten.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “But I think Wriothesley has something to do with this– Wriothesley hates Her Majesty.”
I know not if that was supposed to be helpful, but it just made the queen shriek louder. Her screams now where ear-piercing shrills– one would never think such a kindly and mellow lady like the queen could scream so loudly. And I have never heard that yelling was contagious, but in this case it was true, as Lady Lane and Lady Herbert, the Queen’s sister, were screaming with Katherine, at least three were crying, and even I, a person who was trained to not weep, felt like crying, knowing that Katherine’s life was in danger.
My mother was the only one in the room not making a scene. Aye, she was terrified, but she still tried to keep calm. At that moment, I felt proud of her. While everyone else was screaming and crying, she only showed her fear by a wrinkle on her forehead. “Stop looking like that!” shouted my mother. “By God’s bones, stay calm for the Queen! Your screams only make it worse! Do you want Her Majesty to lose her senses? Or am I the only person in this room who has the backbone to put the Queen’s needs first?”
That made Lady Lane stopped screaming. She walked to the Queen and whispered something. But that barely helped and poor Katherine kept screaming after an uncomfortable pause.
Then I rushed towards Lady Lane’s side, who looked as if she was going to faint at any time. “What happens now?”
“We must get the doctor. He might be able to calm her.”
That is all I can write now. I will write tomorrow.
July 25th, 1546.
Now, where was I?
After Lady Lane said to get the doctor, Lady Herbert immediately dashed out of the room to fetch the doctors while Queen Katherine screamed for about half an hour before she tired. But after ten minutes of moans, she broke out in new screams. Her screams, although from yesterday, still feel like only a moment ago and seem to echo off the walls.
Dr. Wendy and a bunch of other physicians came after Katherine’s screamed for at least two hours. Dr. Wendy talked to the Queen and then sent away the rest of the physicians.
About thirty minutes later, there was a slight knock on the door followed by a great boom: “The King!” The door opened and, on the other side, the King of England, clad in regal crimson, appeared.
“The King!” One of the lady-in-waiting gasped. We all sank into curtseys, hoping our King would acknowledge our calmness, but King Henry only looked at his hysterical wife, who was now only sobbing softly.
After Henry welcomed the Queen with the rather friendly words, “Well, Kate, what is all this?”
“I fear I have displeased you in important matters,” Katherine said, “I fear you are angry at me about our arguments over religion.”
“Is that so?” King Henry asked.
“Aye,” said the queen. “That’s what I fear.” She paused for a moment. “But God has, after all, appointed you, as Supreme Head of us all, and of you, next unto God, will I ever learn.”
The King must have known what the arrest warrant was for because he still looked sulky and upset at the queen. “Not so, madam!” cried King Henry. “You are becoming a doctor, Kate, to instruct us in religion and not to be instructed or directed by us.” What he meant was that Queen Katherine was instructing him in religion and he did not like that. He only used the word “us” instead of “me” simply because monarchs use the royal plural.
“Oh, but sir, I did not mean to do that!”
The King raised an eyebrow. “Really? It seemed to me that you, madam, were trying to instruct us in religion… unless you have another explanation for your conduct?”
The Queen protested that she was mistaken, and she claimed it was “always preposterous for a woman like her to instruct her lord.” The Queen paused, and then went on: “it was only to pass away the pain and weariness of your present infirmity... I am but a woman, with all the imperfections natural to the weakness of my gender; therefore in all matters of doubt and difficulty I must refer myself to your Majesty’s better judgment. You are, after all, my lord and head.”
Queen Katherine’s voice did not shake or squeak or even go high, as I expected her to. King Henry must have been impressed, for then he said, “Is it so, sweetheart? And tended your arguments to no worse end? Then we are perfect friends again.” After smiling at Katherine, the King took her in his arms and kissed her in front of everyone. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
Later, all Queen Katherine’s ladies-in-waiting- Lady Herbert, Lane, my mother, a few others, and I- and Queen Katherine herself went into one of the palace gardens, where Katherine and Henry laughed and looked at the flowers.
“This rose,” announced King Henry, showing a red rose, “reminds me of you. A true rose!” As he put the rose in her hand, he kissed her again.
“Do you really think so, sir?” asked the Queen.
Henry kissed his queen again and held her tight in his arms. When he let go, he said, “Of course I do, madam. You are beautiful like this rose, beautiful inside and out. I do not-”
Just then, Lord Chancellor Wriothesley came with forty guards. I realized that he came to arrest Queen Katherine and three of her ladies.
King Henry got up and called Wriothesley up. “Why are you here?” King Henry demanded.
Wriothesley told him about how he was going to arrest the Queen and a few of her ladies, but Henry cut him short. “Knave! Beast! Fool!” shouted King Henry, punctuating each word with a blow to the head. “Get out of my sight!”
Wriothesley left quickly, and King Henry went back to the Queen, who was still a little upset. But after a few moments- Henry and Queen Katherine were the loving couple once again. Thus ended an extraordinarily busy day. I shall remember this bittersweet day forever.
August 7th, 1546.
Queen Katherine is changing her whole household and making sure there is no breath of heresy in her household.
So now we have no forbidden books, talks, or nearly any impermissible thoughts. But then, we barely had any heretical thoughts before and only a few forbidden books that I really think should not be forbidden. But that is what I believe, and my beliefs are not the King’s beliefs.
My little sister Katherine’s birthday is in a few days. I shall send her a few mementos from court. Perhaps I shall send her the embroidered linen napkin from the last feast. I am sure she’ll love it!
August 25th, 1546.
There is a visitor from France who is here today. Claude d’Annebaut, the Admiral of France, is visited because of a treaty of peace because Henry and Francois I, the King of France.
I am sure Claude d’Annebaut was quite entertained by the banquets and masques, since the banquet yesterday was perhaps one of the nicest I have ever seen and it was all for the Admiral of France. There was roasted beef, delicious fish, venison, and even apple fritters, which are my personal favorite. Even if I am completely full, I still manage to eat one or two of the fritters. In truth, I would sneak a few fritters during a fast if I could. They are my weaknesses, I’m afraid.
September 1st, 1546.
There was a wonderful masque today that I am sure Claude d’Annebaut loved.
I myself loved it and had a part in it with the queen’s permission- I played the lute in it and I got many compliments, including from our dear King Henry. I know that many people have seen his temper flare against them, but I have not seen it flare directly to me. Perhaps it is because I am only eight years old and have not as yet made him angry, King Henry is so kind to me. If I did not see the warrant for the Queen and know the stories that Mrs. Ellen enjoys to tell me, I would not believe that the king is the monster everyone says he is.
September 7th, 1546.
Today is the Lady Elizabeth’s thirteenth birthday, but I have not seen her, for she normally is kept away or at Chelsea. I still remember her from the Michaelmas feast from a year ago and I wonder what she looks like. I am sure she changed a lot, because mother told me that at the ages of twelve to fourteen is where girls change the most.
Later, around five o’clock at night…
Claude d’Annebaut just went back to France.
September 16th, 1546.
I have a feeling someone is reading my journal, for I found a semi-dirty fingerprint on the last page. No, I take that back. I know someone is reading my diary, because that fingerprint is not mine. I must figure out a way. I guess I’ll have to ask mother, but I hope she doesn’t give me the following answer:
“You should know better, Jane, than let someone read your diary. You’d better burn it than let anyone know your thoughts. It could kill us and I’d rather not die. You could die for all I care, but I do not want to. I am too important to be killed.”
September 17th, 1546.
Thank God mother did not act too angry for asking her what I shall do! I was suspiciously not punished too heavily.
“You foolish girl!” was what mother simply yelled, slapping my cheek twice and shaking me as I stared at her. But that was all… a light sentence. Then, mother carried on, as if nothing happened, “Let me think of a good idea for hiding your diary. But I wonder who it could’ve been, because you are no one important. Yet.”
I shuddered then at the fact that mother just said I will be important some day in the future. Mother must have noticed, because she then cried, “You must know that we’ll give you an excellent marriage someday. I hope it is to Prince Edward, but, if not-”
“I apologize, mother, but what about my journal? What shall we do?” I asked.
“I have a gone idea, and it does not require a box and a key.”
“What is it, mother?”
“It involves your gowns.”
I was confused at what mother was trying to say. “Can you tell me what you mean?”
“We take strips of fabrics, shape them into a large pocket, and sew it into the inside of your gown. We’ll do that with all of your gowns. Then, you can just carry your diary everywhere except when you sleep, when you can sleep with your diary under your pillow. It’ll be like a secret, inner pocket.” Mother paused. “You may need to change the way you walk so it doesn’t hit your leg or make you look lame.”
I thought this was a great idea, so I told mother so. “Excellent idea, mother. I will sew it now. But what shall I do with Mrs. Ellen? Surely she will find out?”
“While Mrs. Ellen is certainly loyal to us, I must make the suggestion that you tell her nothing. In case we are in trouble and are question, it would be better that Mrs. Ellen says nothing, for some people tell anything or everything after torture. That is why you should never tell her about the journal itself yet. So you must send her away when you sew them and try taking your diary out before you allow her to undress you.”

October 1st, 1546.
I finished sewing all of my dresses two days ago and tried walking yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s not too hard, but then, I’ve been trained to walk correctly with a train.
Mother, however, thinks I still walk lamely, for sometimes I have to walk quickly but smoothly, just to make sure this diary does not slip from its pocket. Why I should be having this problem, I have no idea- only my chemise is close to my body.
“I can tell that something is under that dress, Jane,” whined mother. “You must continue practicing or else everyone will know. And if that happens, we will be shamed and it would be all your fault, girl.” Then we continued to practice walking.
But never mind about that, my birthday and Prince Edward’s is in a few days! I knew that Prince Edward is often kept away from court in fear of sickness, but I should like to give him a message. I’ll wish him a happy birthday and good health.
It seems as if it was only yesterday that I turned seven. I wonder if I look any different. I know I probably only grew two or so inches, but it does not matter.
December 26th, 1546.
We have been sent from court again because the King is supposedly near death. Although everyone knows that it is treason to speak ill of the King, we all know it is near. Mother tells me that a lady from court told her that the King got ill all the way back in the beginning of November.
Well, if that is the case, then I shall pray for King Henry’s soul. I hope God spares him pain and delivers his soul to Heaven. He may’ve sent two wives to the block, bastardized two children, and killed many innocent men, women, and children, but he is still my great-uncle and I shall pray for him during the times he lives like a good Christian should.
January 26th, 1547.
The New Year has passed and I still have no word about King Henry. I have heard rumors, but that is all. Every rumor I have heard has been proved false one way or another.
January 31st, 1547.
We have gotten news that the late King Henry VIII died three days past, his soul now in Heaven.
So now my cousin Edward is now King Edward VI and is known as the boy-king. After him, the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Mary are next in line for the throne.
Surprisingly, King Henry struck out his elder sister Margaret and her heirs from the throne, and that leaves my mother and her children- me, Katherine, and Mary- after the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Mary. Of course, it will not come to that, because I am sure Edward will have a long, glorious reign. Even if he does not- God forbid- there is still the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth as monarchs. So the throne should never come to my family.
Let me be the first to say this in my family: Long live King Edward! May he be a great king, one who brings the True Religion to England! Viva la King Edward! Long may he reign over England!

October 1st, 1546.
I finished sewing all of my dresses two days ago and tried walking yesterday. Strangely enough, it’s not too hard, but then, I’ve been trained to walk correctly with a train.
Mother, however, thinks I still walk lamely, for sometimes I have to walk quickly but smoothly, just to make sure this diary does not slip from its pocket. Why I should be having this problem, I have no idea- only my chemise is close to my body.
“I can tell that something is under that dress, Jane,” whined mother. “You must continue practicing or else everyone will know. And if that happens, we will be shamed and it would be all your fault, girl.” Then we continued to practice walking.
But never mind about that, my birthday and Prince Edward’s is in a few days! I knew that Prince Edward is often kept away from court in fear of sickness, but I should like to give him a message. I’ll wish him a happy birthday and good health.
It seems as if it was only yesterday that I turned seven. I wonder if I look any different. I know I probably only grew two or so inches, but it does not matter.
December 26th, 1546.
We have been sent from court again because the King is supposedly near death. Although everyone knows that it is treason to speak ill of the King, we all know it is near. Mother tells me that a lady from court told her that the King got ill all the way back in the beginning of November.
Well, if that is the case, then I shall pray for King Henry’s soul. I hope God spares him pain and delivers his soul to Heaven. He may’ve sent two wives to the block, bastardized two children, and killed many innocent men, women, and children, but he is still my great-uncle and I shall pray for him during the times he lives like a good Christian should.
January 26th, 1547.
The New Year has passed and I still have no word about King Henry. I have heard rumors, but that is all. Every rumor I have heard has been proved false one way or another.
January 31st, 1547.
We have gotten news that the late King Henry VIII died three days past, his soul now in Heaven.
So now my cousin Edward is now King Edward VI and is known as the boy-king. After him, the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Mary are next in line for the throne.
Surprisingly, King Henry struck out his elder sister Margaret and her heirs from the throne, and that leaves my mother and her children- me, Katherine, and Mary- after the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Mary. Of course, it will not come to that, because I am sure Edward will have a long, glorious reign. Even if he does not- God forbid- there is still the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth as monarchs. So the throne should never come to my family.
Let me be the first to say this in my family: Long live King Edward! May he be a great king, one who brings the True Religion to England! Viva la King Edward! Long may he reign over England!



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This book has 2 comments.


on May. 14 2011 at 4:39 am
becauseHeloves BRONZE, Chesapeake, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Proverbs 8:12, 14 "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength."

This is incredible! I love how you marry the conversation to the setting and stir in etiquette. It makes the story very believable and lovable. Please post more!

awayra BRONZE said...
on Mar. 20 2011 at 6:26 am
awayra BRONZE, Bucharest, Alabama
1 article 1 photo 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
"i am a woman who enjoys herself very much: sometimes i win, sometimes i loose."

delightful depiction of court life in Tudor's time!I hope you'll post more of it soon.


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