A letter to Norfolk ………..

The story behind the story…………..

Going back to my historical roots this month, as I await the arrival of the third and final instalment of the Hilary Mantel series, recounting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII.

I am excited to see how she will portray his downfall and impending doom.

So this month’s story is how I imagine Thomas’s growing sense of peril, the stage at which he starts to realise that his life, ‘to all intents and purposes’ is over and that the only thing left for him to do is to throw himself on the King’s mercy so he can protect his family and household.

Am also intrigued by his relationship, with Anne Boleyn’s, ‘Uncle Norfolk’ as he is ‘affectionately’ named by Cromwell and his household in the Hilary Mantel’s series. A relationship that seems to be based on mutual fear, some respect, loathing and necessity in equal measure.

So without further ado I give you ….

A letter to Norfolk ………..

SSB Feb 2016 1

It is dark and quiet in the nook where Thomas Cromwell sits and contemplates his ‘bleak’ future. It has been some weeks since the kings humiliating, ‘annulment’ from Anne of Cleves, the ‘Flanders Mare’ as he so dismissively referred to her.

At least now, things are settled, Anne very sensibly accepted the position of ‘King’s Sister’ and the ‘friendship’ between her and the King has been cemented with ‘fond’ exchanges of gifts and letters.

But even with all this Thomas is still very much aware of the Kings wrath and anger and senses that his time is coming. It is perhaps too late to save his own person, but he must of course do what he can for his family.

The king may still show mercy and a kindly face to his loyal subject.


So it is with all this in mind that Thomas Cromwell, one of the most powerful men in the land picks up his quill and slowly and thoughtfully begins to write:

My Lord, Norfolk

These are desperate times.

I see I have miscalculated, I have too many enemies and know too many secrets, for me to survive the King’s wrath.

We have oft over the years not seen ‘eye to eye’, but I think in these ‘times’ we might be able to do a little business. I turn to you now, as a long standing associate and man of influence, as I believe we understand each other and our King.

My request is simple, to do what you can for my family, they are completely without blame and the King’s righteous wrath when it falls, must fall on me alone.

I only ask that my household is left to live a peaceful and comfortable life, quietly and away from court if necessary.

Whilst I, will throw myself on the mercy of our dear King. I remain now and ever more his most faithful and ever dutiful servant. Undeserving of his grace and mercy.


Thomas Cromwell

As he signs his name, Cromwell sighs and carefully seals the document, he will ensure it is sent tonight. He must act now with all haste, have everything ready and in place. There are other letters to be dispatched, but this one must go first.

Things may yet turn out for the best, he knows that Norfolk would happily see him hang, that much is abundantly clear but perhaps he will look more favourably on his family and household.

Only time will tell.

Until next time

Janice Taylor


The Scribbler returns…………….

The story behind the story

This is really a continuation of my interest and fascination with Tudor history and in particular Elizabeth 1st.  I am still really keen to ‘get inside her head’ so have decided to grant the scribbler at least one more ‘audience with the Queen, this time after her historic defeat of the Spanish Armada.

So without further ado, I give you:

The Scribbler returns…………………………………..

SSB Feb 2016 1

I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”

Source:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_to_the_Troops_at_Tilbury

Stirring words indeed your majesty” – remarks the ‘Scribbler’ as he makes a deep bow to Elizabeth and carefully folds away the piece of parchment from which he has just read her recorded words.

The scribbler has been granted a second audience with his Queen as she wants to ensure that her ‘subjects’ fully appreciate the size and scope of her victory over the Spanish and the ‘vanquished’ Armada.

Elizabeth merely smiles, she knows that some of this is flattery, but then which woman isn’t susceptible to a little flattery every now and then and in her hour of need her ability to speak and speak exceptionally had not deserted her.

Her subjects would never know just how badly things could have gone, so she had needed to show herself to her people and show them that she herself was prepared to take up arms in defence of her realm.

After reading the Scribbler’s last piece she is reasonably happy with the thought of another ‘article’ that will show her in all her glory and majesty. However little does she know that the Scribbler has his own agenda and is fully determined to ‘get inside’ the head and heart of his illustrious Queen.

So he has carefully planned his approach and decided to start by repeating her ‘stirring’ words and flattering her with thought and care as most intelligent men have learnt to do around Elizabeth. He is not bad looking for a commoner, clearly his style of dress cannot compete with the lords and ladies of the court. But fortunate for him he has the build and proportions that Elizabeth has been known to find attractive in a man.

He has a certain ‘swagger’ about him, a ‘devil may care look’ which Elizabeth finds ‘passing’ attractive, though she would never deign to admit as much.

A great victory your majesty” he continues “a chance to show the rest of the world that, England has a true and steadfast Queen”

Yes” she muses “We have won a great victory this day and one that shows the world that we are not a nation to be trifled with”

Of course your majesty”, responds the Scribbler, “Your people will want to see your words written and recorded for posterity”

Naturally“, replies Elizabeth, “My clerks can provide whatever you need and I of course look forward to seeing my words printed throughout the land

She pauses, as she can see no other reason for the scribbler to be still in her presence, but annoyingly he is not showing any sign of leaving.  So, if he can’t take a royal hint, she will just dismiss him with  a nod of the head.

However, the Scribbler is watching her very carefully, he knows he has been dismissed, but again he wants the story behind the story and so he sighs and ventures with:

I wonder what your father would have thought?

Elizabeth stiffens, no one dares to speak of her father unless she does so first. Who is this impertinent man, perhaps a night in the tower might be required?

“I only ask“, continues the scribbler quickly, “As he never achieved as King, what you have achieved today as Queen”

What is it about this Scribbler thinks the queen irritably, why cannot he take his leave?  Yet despite her irritation she has to acknowledge the truth in his statement.

As Queen she had defended her realm, with a navy that was her pride and joy, with sea and land defences that had been ‘sorely’ tested.

She had achieved far more than that ‘pumped up’ Henry, with his ‘overblown’ ideas to go with his ‘overblown body’. What had he achieved really?

And now his ‘bastard’ daughter from the ‘goggle eyed whore’ sat victorious on her throne with the world at her feet. All without the benefit of a husband.

Yes, what indeed would he say?

A man that was so desperate for a male heir that he murdered her mother, so that he could marry again.

He would be truly flabbergasted and amazed that a ‘mere’ woman sat on the throne of England. At this thought a slight smile plays around her lips, but she isn’t going to share her thoughts with this commoner.

He had more than enough for his story, “You may leave us” she smiles. Give him a small token of favour, she may well want to summon him again.

Yes your majesty” replies the Scribbler he can see that his question has sparked something in the Queen and next time he would get the real story.

Until next time


Janice Taylor