The Queen is Dead!: Katherine of Aragon dies in 1518

Oooh this seems like the calm before the storm
Well, actually I'm getting everything in place to wrap up soon. I have 11 more chapters, six epilogues, two family trees and two cast lists left and then we're done. :)

(That actually seems rather a lot, now that I write it all out like that...)
Great chapter, it's nice to see that Henry wasn't too angry about Marie's decision, perhaps he believes that it saved Jackie's life. Hopefully, serious illness does not strike their children again but one never knows...
Tender moment for the Henry and Marie there- news like that can never go well.

I hope the Princess defies expectations of the deaf in this time period and does well.
Great chapter, it's nice to see that Henry wasn't too angry about Marie's decision, perhaps he believes that it saved Jackie's life. Hopefully, serious illness does not strike their children again but one never knows...
I haven't got any more planned...but that doesn't mean we're short on drama...
Tender moment for the Henry and Marie there- news like that can never go well.

I hope the Princess defies expectations of the deaf in this time period and does well.
Jacquetta and Caitlin's futures I haven't planned in any detail, though I have planned out Lionel's, Dickon's and Maria's. Perhaps Jacquetta will end up being the mediator between her siblings - the one they all write to for advice, if you like.
Section CLXVIII - 1526
Right, time for something a little different: 1526 in a series of letters.

31st January 1526
“Dearest Margaret,

As I’m sure you’re already aware, the New Year brought bad news for our dear brother. Dr Linacre examined little Jacquetta again and pronounced the hearing loss she sustained through her illness last summer to be permanent. It is true the news was all but expected – Lady Bryan’s reports had given no hint of any improvement in her condition, but still, to know that our youngest niece will never hear again is a bitter blow. Particularly with her being so young. She hadn’t spoken much more than a word or two before the illness, and now it may be unlikely she ever will, if she can’t hear and copy her brothers and sisters.

Harry and Marie are putting a brave face on it – these things are in the hand of God, after all, and they know they were lucky not to lose her outright, but despite their bold proclamations about Jacquetta’s hearing, and perhaps her speech, being a small price to pay for her life, I know it eats away at them both. The light has gone out of Marie’s eyes when she looks at her youngest, and Harry has barely seen the girl since Linacre’s diagnosis.

But tomorrow is St Bridget’s Day, and Marie and I are to ride to Syon so that she can swear an oath before the Abbess that she will one day pledge Jacquetta to the house to take the vows of a bride of Christ. I only hope that having the little girl’s future secured, and beginning to fulfil the bargain she made with the Lord in exchange for Jacquetta’s life will begin to ease Marie’s mind and heart, if not our brother’s.

But enough of such gloomy talk. I went to Eltham to see Maria, Lionel and Meg last week. Meg is shooting up like a weed and growing ever more beautiful. When are you coming south again, sister? If you don’t see your daughter soon, you’ll never recognise her! I swear she’s half a woman already, for all she’s only ten years old. But then she is a Tudor in all but name. Our women have always been precocious, haven’t they?

In other news, I hear Albany is using all his influence for you in Rome. I can’t say I understand why you should wish to unyoke yourself from Lord Angus. He may be a fool and a war-mongering one at that, but at least you know him. You chose him. If you are to be tied to a man in the divine sacrament of marriage, is not better to be tied to one you have chosen than a stranger? You and I are lucky, sister. We both got to choose our husbands, at least the second time around, and that, for women of royal blood, is a gift not to be thrown away lightly…But you are my sister, my only trueborn sister, and so, for that alone, I will wish you well in your pleas to Rome, though I warn you now Harry may not be so accommodating.

I am, as ever, your devoted sister,


25th March 1526


It is Lady Day, and as such, I do my duty as your wife and enclose the accounts for the Quarter, since they require your signature. But then, I can’t imagine you care for them particularly, do you, my Lord Lovell? Heavens knows you’ve always been happier as a soldier, jumping to do the King’s bidding every time he so much as clicks his fingers, than doing your duty by your wife and your tenants.

I would ask when you are coming home, but they say the King of France has signed a treaty with the Emperor and negotiated his release at last, so no doubt you’ll stay put in Normandy for a while longer, bolstering defences abroad while your people need you. I’d expect nothing less from an upstart like you, who doesn’t know any better.

Duty requires that I pray for you, so I trust this letter finds you in good health.

I remain, as ever,

Lady Mary Lovell nee Talbot.

12th June 1526

To my right beloved brother, King Henry of England,

I beseech you, brother, despite your reluctance to countenance my wish to divorce Lord Angus, help me. My husband – and how I wish I didn’t have to call him that, will the wheels of Rome never stop grinding? – has control of my son, and therefore of Scotland. By the terms of the agreement struck by the Regency Council, he ought to hand James over to Lord Arran at the beginning of next month, but I fear he will not. He’s too fond of unbridled power for that. I intend to ask the Scotts for help in springing James from Angus’s trap, but I fear that alone, they won’t be able to stand against Lord Angus and the Kerrs.

Hence, I send Sir Walter to you, pleading for your support. Give us the men we need to stand against Angus and free my son. He is a King of fourteen summers, he should not be a prisoner, particularly not of an arrogant toerag like Angus. Or, if you will not do that, at least write and put pressure on Angus to release my son. I doubt even Angus would be able to withstand international censure for long. I swear to you, in return, the moment my son is free, I shall start working for a match between him and your daughter the Lady Katharine. Wouldn’t you like to see her Queen of Scots one day, as I was before her?

I remain, as ever,

Your sister, Queen Margaret of Scots

30th July 1526

My dearest brother,

I shall never be able to thank you enough. James is free!! I write in haste from Stirling, whence we have retreated in order for James and his new councillors to plan what revenge they shall take against Lord Angus and his forces. Again, I send Sir Walter to you, for he was in the thick of the battle and will know more of any details you may wish to hear. I know how much you loved hearing stories of warfare as a boy.

Rest assured, I will keep my end of the bargain. Your daughter Lady Katharine will be coronated at my son’s side if I have anything to say about it.

I am, as ever,

Your devoted sister,
Margaret, Queen Dowager of Scots

27th September 1526

Dearest Maria,

How strange it seems to be putting pen to paper for you and not simply looking up to say something to you! But then, we always knew that this day would come, and if I had to choose to start my married life anywhere, Lathom seems a wonderful place to do it. The castle is a fine stone building, situated between two brooks, which Edward says can rush quite beautifully in the winter. Oh, it was a hard ride from Court, I’ll not deny that – I might have been born in Kendal, but I always forget how far north England spreads when I’m down south at Court – but Edward wanted to be back in time to see the last of the harvest gathered in and the sheep brought down off the hills for the winter, and who am I to begrudge my new husband such a thing, when he sacrificed marrying in the chapel his father built for my sake, so that you and Meg and Siobhan and Susie and Nannette and Fanny could be present at my wedding? Thank you, by the way, for the beautiful sapphire and diamond collar you gave me as a gift. I can assure you it will be treasured, not just by me, but by generations of Countesses of Derby.

The hour grows late and I hear Edward shifting about as though he wishes to retire, so I shall end here. But know that you and all the others at Eltham remain in my thoughts and prayers.

I am, as always,

Your Katheryn, Countess of Derby (how beautiful that signature looks, I shall never tire of seeing it on the page…)

11th December 1526

Dearest, darling Annie,

Kathy would strangle me if she knew I was writing this letter, but I felt you deserved to know just why you won’t seeing us at Court this Christmastide. Kathy has just confided in me that she is pregnant again. Less than half a year after she lost the last babe. As such, we are staying put at Raglan for the foreseeable future. I am not risking her condition by travelling. Not this time. Not after three miscarriages in as many years.

Nor, however, do I plan to make an announcement of Kathy’s condition. At least not until we’re through the dangerous early months and the babe has quickened this time. I have only written to you because I couldn’t imagine keeping a secret like this from you, of all people.

But, I beg you, little sister, don’t tell anyone. Use your initiative to explain away our absence this Christmastide if you must, but don’t breathe a word. Particularly not to Papa. He’ll only put pressure on Kathy to give Edmund a brother and that I could not bear. She’s already desperate enough.

I enclose gifts for the children with this letter – and of course, for yourself and Harry as well. Enjoy the season, my darling Annie, and pray to St Margaret of Antioch to intercede for us. Gods Above, we’ll need it, if we’re to get through the next six months.

Kiss Maggie, Kitty and Pippa for me, and tell Charles I look forward to seeing how much better he can ride when I next see him.

I am, as ever,

Your George.

For anyone who wishes to see Kathy's wedding gift, I am attempting to include it here:

Kate's wedding gift.jpg
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I love the update! Nice to see the friendship between Maria and Katherine Parr. Hopefully it will continue after Maria's marriage.
Maria will always have a soft spot for the girls she grew up with, though she becomes closer to Siobhan Fitzgerald after her marriage because Siobhan is unmarried and so goes to France with her, whereas Kate and Meg do not...
A lot of necklaces in English portraits from the time seem to be pendant style rather than a collar like that.
Yeah, but you get collars of office, etc. And livery collars of esses for Lancastrian retainers in the 15th century. I see what you're both saying, but to be honest, I can't be bothered to change it.

Well, this is an extant piece apparently from between 1550 to 1600, so a little later than this story but it looks somewhat like the picture you chose so I think it's fine.