Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Monday, August 30, 2010

A Tudor Courtier's Journey Part Two

Henry VIII
As you may recall from our previous journey, your host, Sir Gerard has left you in a rather precarious position… (Part One)

He ambled off to attend to some business and you made your way to the great hall where is feast is taking place. Immersed in the grand splendor that is a Tudor celebration, you were suddenly pulled from your transfixion when the loud booming voice of Henry VIII echoed in your ears.

“You there!”

Your gaze fixes on the large man clothed in cloth of gold, jewels, and fur. He isn’t the way you picture him at all. Very tall, his legs are long and stretch out before him. His hair is fiery gold—the perfect mix of red and blond. A short trimmed beard covers his chin… but what surprises you most is how very muscular he is. All this time you’d thought him fat and a glutton, but this man is lithe and athletic looking.

He stands up and again you are impressed with his height. It is then you notice a docile woman sitting upon the throne. She has dark hair, olive skin. She looks very much like an older version of the girl you saw put to bed when with Gerard.

“Come forward.” The king demands.

Somehow you manage to find your feet, and when you look down, your clothes are suddenly in the same style as everyone else. At least now you won’t have to worry about the questions of your modern clothes.

The king offers you a ring to kiss, which you do, else you might be subjected to languish in an oubliette or worse be hung, drawn and quartered…

“Rise.” He states shortly, and you do, unable to look in his crystal blue eyes. “I have not seen you here before. Where have you come from?”

You look from side to side, hoping to catch a glimpse of Gerard, but he is no where in sight. Some tour guide he is! You think fast on your feet.

“The north.”

“Plenty of places north of here. Be more specific.”

“Umm…” Jeez! Why can’t you think of anything? Then you remember a nursery rhyme, something about the Duke of York. “York, majesty. I am from York.”

“Ah! How goes things in the north?”

Why does he keep asking all these questions? You just want him to go away now. Your fascination with history has leapt out the window.

“Things are well.”

“I don’t know why, (insert your name here) , but I like you. Come, with me, I want to show you something.”

You can not believe your luck, or is the angels looking down on you and blessing you? There shall be no killing today!

Intrigued, you follow the king down a corridor to a closed door, and when he opens it, there are instruments everywhere.

You can’t help it, and without thinking you ask, “Where are we?”

“This is my music room.”

The king is a musician?

You watch as Henry VIII sits down at an organ and begins to play. His fingers glide across the keys and he hums a song and then breaks out into song, his voice a haunting melody.
Copy of original manuscipt, of
Pastyme with Good Companye

Pastyme with good companye
I love and shall untyll I dye;
Grugge who lust, but noon denye;
So God be plecyd, thus leve woll I;
For my pastaunce
Hunte, syng and daunce;
My hert ys sett
All godely sport
For my cumofrt:

Who shall me lett?

Yout must have sum dalyaunce,

Of good or yll some pastaunce;
Company me thynckyht then best
All thogrest and fansys to digest

For idelnes
Ys cheff mastres
Of vices all;
Then who can say
But myrth and play
Ys best of all?

Company with honeste
Ys verru and vices to flee;
Company ys gode and yll,

But every man hath hys frewyll.
The best insew
The worst eschew
My mynde shall be;
Vertu to use,
Vyce to refuse
Thus schall use me.

(Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court, John E. Stevens)

“Majesty,” you breathe out when he is finished. “I had no idea you were so talented musically.”

He laughs lustily. “How good of you to say. I wrote Pastyme With Good Companye several years ago, just after being crowned. Fitting for my court wouldn’t you say?”

You nod your head in agreement. If only he would heed his own advice in the future and always refuse his vices and eschew the worst…

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