I cannot sleep. The hour is late, and my head is filled with the wonderous doings of this day; Elizabeth’s christening. The scratch of this quill on parchment is the only sound in this room. My ladies are without and my bed cold as the king sleeps in his apartment, my confinement after our child’s birth has still a month to pass before I am churched, and he may return to me. Sitting here as the candles burn low, I have the greatest wish to be free of these rooms and walk amongst the court again. I feel imprisoned and would never want again to be so.
Our child is within the royal nursery. I cannot here her cry. I do not feel her at my breast. She is tended well by her wet nurse, day nurses and the women who rock her cradle as befits a princess. Elizabeth, she has been named. Received into God’s church this day at Greenwich. At the same place Henry himself was christened, the Church of the Observant Friars. It pleases me that she is named for our lady mothers. It is a good name: a royal name: a name that conjures greatness. She is mine own child and favours the king in colouring. I shall see that she wants for nothing…she will be dressed by my own tailor Master William Loke and I shall ensure she has gowns of white damask, and green and yellow satin. Henry has promised me our child shall be declared ahead of the Lady Mary, a surly young woman, who shares the sour temperament of her mother Katherine. The lady’s ill temper is present in her face and there is doubt she will find a suitor. I will see to it she will soon hear the news of her ‘sisters’ arrival at her residence of Hatfield. It is as it should be.
Yet I am cautious. I am joyous but cannot be overjoyed. Our beautiful, healthy red-haired daughter should have been a boy. If Henry sleeps soundly in is bed, then he must be content but all the physicians and sorcerers in England spoke of my delivering a male heir and it has not come to pass. Those that wish me dead will have gladness in their hearts for it could be my undoing, but Henry has spoken of sons next time and I know God will let me fulfil that desire. At this moment I fear it makes me no better than Katherine. But I will give henry a son – as she could not.
I must give the making of a male heir all my passion. It is but three days since I delivered Elizabeth and I am still mending but I have a mind to engage the King as soon as I am churched, and able and bring him to my bed so I may conceive from him our son. My lord is lusty enough, if I flatter him well and make him feel of that mind. I will make it my passion to get with child as soon as God will allow.
But of now I do write down a short account of this day of splendour. Henry and I did not attend Elizabeth’s christening as is the custom, but our tiny child was carried by the Duchess of Norfolk, and the train of our babes purple velvet mantle was held by the Earl of Wiltshire, the Countess of Kent and the Earl of Derby. The Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk flanked the solemn entourage and it seemed as if every noble family in the realm was in attendance. Cranmer has the mortal care of Elizabeth’s soul as her Godfather and Archbishop and after Elizabeth was plunged three times in the great silver font brought from Canterbury, it was bid that God send her a long life. I too wish that for my darling girl, the new princess…the only princess of England and France.
Gifts the King and I received after the ceremony, are still here, in these apartments and Henry seemed well enough. Yet I cannot banish the thoughts that not a week since, how he had walked the boards of this room undecided which name to give his forthcoming son; Henry or Edward?
I know I am not liked by all. Chapuys writes to Katherine’s nephew the Holy Roman Emperor with news of Elizabeth and does not honour me as Henry’s ‘wife’. He names me ‘the Kings mistress’ and informs his patron the people gladden to know I have borne a girl child. She is seen to be my failure. He says England will never renounce Katherine as their ‘one true queen’.
I have called for tincture of poppy. Mayhap it will dull these aches of childbirth in my belly. My ladies speak of the ease with which I bore my travail and how many women face great difficulty with birth. I recall it was a pain like no other. If my next child is a son then all will be well. I will allow a second to follow to secure the succession but then mayhap I will use the tricks of the wise women to avoid getting with child again … though Henry must never know.
…I hear the approach of footsteps and think it the tincture to ease my discomforts. If it is Jane that brings it, she may leave it me and go. I have little time for mistress Seymour of late. She irks me, I tire of her pallid face and pious demeanour.
And so to bed…
Model, Karen Stone
Picture Copyright, Alannette Photography