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Monday, August 23, 2010
A Tudor Courtier's Journey Part One
Gerard has taken it upon himself to greet people with French, as it is quite popular to emulate the French… Well, it is right now anyway, because the French and English have an alliance of sorts.
Gerard turns and sees you have come to observe him. He siddles up to you.
Nod your head.
“Alas, I shall take you by the hand then.” Gerard reaches out his hand to you, offering to take you on a journey to the past.
Grip his hand if you want to take the journey!
“This is where it all began,” whispers Gerard.
“Where what began?” you ask.
“Rumors… the untruths that will rock a nation, tear apart a marriage, cause deaths,” he answers.
You turn back confused and watch as the young man leaves the room. A maid enters to wake the young lady still in bed. She helps her up and looks at the clean white sheets, clucks her tongue.
“Be you still a maid and not truly married? Still Infanta Catalina and not Princess Catherine?” the servant whispers.
The young lady sighs. “Si. Prince Arthur spoke not a word to me, accept to say I was beautiful, he was merry and goodnight. A kiss on the cheek.”
The window darkens for a moment and then opens again, but this time on Prince Arthur in his chamber as several men prance around, dressing him.
“How goes your night, your highness?” one of the men asks, as they all rub elbows and guffaw.
Prince Arthur pales a shade and looks like a rabbit about to be snared. You can almost see his embarrassment should he admit he couldn’t consummate his marriage. Then he smiles, and laughs, his head falling back. The sound is that of a man, unnatural coming from the thin prince. “Men, I shall require lots of ale this morning, for I have worked up a thirst from spending all night in Spain.”
The men laugh and again the lights dim.
“He lied?” you whisper.
“Aye,” Gerard says. “Each night to follow remained the same. He was a boy, a sickly and scared boy. Catherine was so beautiful, and intimidating. Several months later he fell ill and died.”
“What happened to the princess?”
“After living nearly destitute under the rule of King Henry VII, Arthur’s father, she was rescued.”
“Rescued by whom?”
Gerard turns to you with a wicked smile. “By the brother of course.”
Sounds like a truly romantic story… You want to hear more, but Gerard says you have to wait. He has business to attend to, he shall return to fetch you later.
“Go and enjoy yourself at court.”
You nod and meander down the hall towards the sounds of merriment. Someone thrusts a frothy mug of ale into your hands, and another yanks your hands toward the center of the room where others are dancing. Women are twirling about, clapping their hands in the air, their feet kicking out every so often in only a slight delicate raise of the leg. Men turn and twirl the ladies, lifting them in an arch. Looks like fun. For a moment you are pulled into the excitement and sheer enchantment of it all. Candelabras, chandeliers both dripping wax… Cloth of gold draped on walls and ceilings… Murals and tapestries of battle scenes, gardens, kings, queens, hunts…
But all that stops when a loud boom voice pulls you from your dance mid-twirl.
You stop and turn toward the voice. A great hulking man lounges in a throne chair. He is staring at you. It is the king himself…
To be continued…