The Seymour Family Tree
A young woman torn from her destiny to marry a king. A young woman who lives with fear.
It is just ten days since the death of the King’s previous wife: it is Jane’s wedding day, and she knows she must bear a son or face the consequences. She is haunted by the fate of her predecessor.
Jane loves the old faith, but she lives in an England in the throes of a religious revolution, where those who speak out risk death.
And now rebellion and plague have broken out.
How is she to survive in this terrifying world?
JANE SEYMOUR. The third of Henry’s queens.
Alison Weir shows Jane treading her perilous path to triumph and tragedy. A young woman of courage and compassion, come from a family tainted by scandal.
All will be well if she can give the King what he wants.
‘A health to the bride!’ Sir John Seymour smiled and raised his goblet as
the company echoed his toast.
Jane sipped her wine, watching as her new sister-in-law blushed
prettily. Edward seemed besotted with his new wife. At seventeen,
Catherine was a very comely girl, a year younger than he. Jane had been
surprised at how practised she was at the art of coquetry, and how
warmly the men were looking at her. Even Father seemed to be under
her spell. Catherine’s father, Sir William Fillol, was leaning back in his
chair replete, looking well pleased with the match – as he should be, for
Edward, being Father’s heir, had good prospects and the determination
to do well. Even at the age of ten, Jane knew that for an ambitious
young man, marriage to the well-bred co-heiress of a wealthy landowner
would be a great advantage.
Sir William had been boasting of how the Fillols could trace their
ancestry back to one of the companions of the Conqueror.
‘And we Seymours too!’ Father had countered smugly, sure of his
own exalted place in the world.
All in all, it was a most satisfactory union, and worthy of this great
feast. The long tables in the Broad Chamber of Wulfhall were laden
with extravagant dishes, all prepared under the watchful eye of Lady
Seymour herself. Meat and fowl of every kind graced the board, the
centrepiece being a magnificent roasted peacock re-dressed in all its
glorious plumage. Sir John had provided the best wine from Bordeaux,
and everyone was attired in the new finery they had worn for the
Sir William normally resided less than fifty miles away from
Wulfhall, at Woodlands, near Wimborne, but he had opened up Fillol’s
Hall for the wedding, and Jane’s whole family – her mother and father,
and all their seven children – had travelled to Essex to be present. Father
was so delighted with his new daughter-in-law that he had insisted that
Sir William and Lady Dorothy accompany Catherine when Edward
brought her back to Wulfhall to continue their celebrations. That had
sent Mother into a flurry of preparation, and everyone agreed that she
had risen to the occasion splendidly.
It was dusk now, and candles were being lit on the mantelpiece and
windowsills, their flickering, dancing flames reflected in the diamondpaned
glass in the stone windows. As Jane observed Edward and
Catherine conversing together and stealing the odd kiss, it came to her
that in a little over eighteen months she herself would be of an age to be
wed. Fortunately, there was no sign that Father had any plans as yet.
For Jane had no desire to be married. She wanted to be a nun.
Everyone teased her for it, not taking her seriously. Let them. Soon they
would find out that she was as determined as her brother Edward when
it came to getting what she wanted in life. She could not imagine her
hearty, jovial father objecting, nor her adored mother. They knew of
the dream she had had of herself wearing a nun’s veil, kneeling before
Our Lady. It had visited her a year before, on the night after her parents
had taken them all to visit the shrine of St Melor at Amesbury Priory.
She had been overawed by the great church with its soaring octagonal
steeple, and had prayed devoutly at the altar of the murdered boyprince,
kneeling beside her siblings with her hands pressed together, as
she had been taught from infancy.
Since then, she had been certain that her future lay within those
twelve holy acres. She could see herself singing the offices in the choir
with the sisters, gathering apples in the orchard or fishing in the ponds,
dedicated to God and manual labour for all her life. Next year she
would be old enough to enter Amesbury as a novice.
For now, she was content to be with her family, laughing at the jests
at table, enjoying the good fare spread out before her and sparring with
her brother Thomas, less than a year her junior, who was at this moment
throwing sugar plums at the newly-weds. Mother frowned.
‘Catherine, you must forgive my youngest son,’ she said. ‘He never
knows when to desist. Tom, stop that.’
‘Such high spirits will take the lad far,’ Sir William observed
indulgently. His wife sniffed.
‘He’s a menace,’ Edward said, not smiling. Jane heard her mother
sigh. Edward had no time for his youngest brother, and always treated
him as a nuisance. And Thomas was adept at riling him, utterly resolved
never to be outshone by Edward. It was an unequal struggle, for Edward
was the heir and Thomas’s senior by eight years. He would always have
first bite of the apple. When Jane was six, he had been sent to France as
a page of honour in the train of the King’s sister, the Princess Mary,
when she married King Louis, and the following year he had gone up to
university at both Oxford and Cambridge, and thence to court, making
himself useful to King Henry and his chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey,
whom many asserted was the true ruler of the realm.
It was hot in the Broad Chamber. Despite it being high summer,
Mother had insisted on having the fire in the hearth kindled, in case
anyone felt a chill. Jane pulled off the floral chaplet she was wearing, for
the blooms were wilting, and smoothed down her long tresses. They
were the colour of pale straw, rippling like fine silk over her shoulders.
Edward, Thomas, Anthony and the baby Elizabeth were dark-haired,
having inherited Father’s colouring, but Jane, Harry and Margery took
For a moment Jane felt sad that her beautiful hair would be cut off
when she took the veil. It was her only claim to loveliness. Her cheekbones
were too rounded, her nose too big, her chin too pointed, her
mouth too small, her skin too whitish. Looking around the room at
her brothers and her pretty little sister Margery, it came to her, without
envy or rancour, that they were all more attractive, more jolly – more
In bearing children, Mother had done her duty as efficiently as she
accomplished all her other domestic responsibilities. Before Jane had
come along, she had borne five sons, although the eldest, John, whom
Jane could barely remember, had died when he was eleven, and another
John had died young. Harry and Anthony were cut from different cloth
to their brothers: Harry was easy-going and had no ambitions beyond
the Wulfhall estate, while Anthony was studious; he would be following
Edward to university soon, and there was talk of his pursuing a career
in the Church. Jane felt encouraged by that. If her parents could lay up
treasure in Heaven by giving a son to God, how much more store they
would have in giving a daughter too.
Six-year-old Margery had been allowed to sit up for the feast, but
tiny Elizabeth, having been brought in by her nurse to be admired
by the guests, was now sound asleep upstairs in what was called the
It was a teeming household, and a happy one. As Jane looked about
her at the large room filled with her merry, feasting family, a sense of
well-being and contentment stole over her. Whatever the future
brought, she was proud to be a Seymour of Wulfhall.
When Jane was little, she had thought that there must be wolves somewhere
at Wulfhall. She had peered around corners and opened closets
and cupboards in trepidation, lest one leap out at her. She had lain
awake at night fretting about what she would do if she ever encountered
one of the beasts. But hearing her screams one day when Thomas
had sprung out from the dry larder shouting, ‘I’m a wolf!’ Father,
having clouted him for it, had reassured her that the name Wulfhall
had nothing to do with wolves.
‘It was once called Ulf ’s Hall, after the Saxon thane who built it
hundreds of years ago,’ he explained, taking her on his knee. ‘Over the
years the name has changed a little. Better now, sweeting?’ And he had
kissed her and set her down to go back to her toys, reassured.
Jane was aware that Wulfhall had been rebuilt and altered several
times over the centuries. The present house was about three hundred
years old, and it embraced two courtyards – the Little Court, which
housed the domestic offices, and the Great Court, where she and her
family lived. The lower walls were of ancient mellow stone supporting
an upper storey of solid timbers framing white plasterwork. You
entered through the porch and came into a large hall. At the far end
a door led to the smaller Broad Chamber, which the family preferred
to the hall, since it was easier to heat. On sunny days, the window
panes in the Broad Chamber and the chapel glinted with a thousand
lights, and the vivid colours of the armorial glass blazed like jewels. At
one corner of the Great Court stood a high tower, a relic of an older
Sir John was wealthy, owning extensive lands in the county of
Wiltshire, enabling him to build a fashionable long gallery where his
family could take exercise on a wet day. Their portraits, limned by
itinerant painters who had visited the house looking for work, stared
down from its lime-washed walls. Among them was an imaginary
likeness of the founder of the Seymours’ fortunes, a Norman knight
called William de St Maur.
Oh, no, thought Jane. Father is going to bore everyone with the
‘He arrived with the Conqueror at the time of the Norman invasion
of 1066,’ Sir John was boasting proudly. ‘Seymours have served the
Crown loyally ever since. We have been farmers and landowners; we
have held public offices, and held them well. Some have sat for the shire
in Parliament.’ He refilled his goblet, warming to his theme; his children
had all heard it before, many times. ‘I was knighted at eighteen, after
fighting the Cornish rebels alongside my father. As you know, it was
upon the coronation that I was appointed a Knight of the Body to
Sir William nodded. ‘It’s hard to believe that was ten years ago. All
that talk of conquering France, all come to naught.’
Father had fought for the King in a French campaign (and probably
exaggerated his exploits, Mother had said more than once behind his
back, smiling affectionately).
‘In time, in time,’ he said now, clearly more interested in impressing
his guest with the family’s achievements. ‘You see that horn on the
wall?’ He pointed to the great silver-bound ivory hunting horn resting
on iron brackets above the fireplace. ‘I have the honour to bear that as
hereditary ranger of Savernake Forest. Look at that line of trees yonder,
through the window.’ He pointed to the dense woodland on the crest
of a gentle hill. ‘That’s the ancient forest, which stretches all the way
west as far as Marlborough, and to Bedwyn Magna, which is our nearest
Jane anticipated that Father would soon be enlarging on how capable
an administrator he had proved since his fighting days were ended, and
the diplomatic missions abroad he had undertaken on King Henry’s
behalf. Not for nothing was he sheriff of Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset;
not for nothing was he Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire.
But no. ‘I am content to farm these days,’ he said. ‘You have to be at
the forefront of change. I have twelve hundred and seventy acres here at
Wulfhall alone, and I’ve converted them all into pasture for sheep.’
Sir William raised his bushy brows. ‘And you’ve had no trouble?
Other gentlemen of my acquaintance who have enclosed their land for
sheep have met with violent opposition. Even Sir Thomas More, whom
I met at court, says that sheep are eating men. And it’s true. For in
growing rich on raising the finest and costliest wool, you noble
gentlemen, yes, even men of God, leave no ground for tillage. It has put
many a poor man out of work.’
‘There has been some grumbling among my tenants,’ Father admitted.
‘But I have made sure that none were left in want, and found them
other work to do when they might have faced destitution. Thus, I pride
myself, I have retained their love.’ Young as she was, Jane knew from
her dealings with the people on the estate that Father was well thought
of, and Edward said his success at managing his estates was even spoken
of at court.
It was growing late, and the balmy late-summer night had covered
the land. The men were growing noisier in their cups, and Mother was
shooing her younger children off to bed. Catherine was yawning and
her father suggested it was time for her to retire. Edward leapt up to
Jane rose too and excused herself. It was still hot in the hall, and she
was relieved to escape outside for some fresh air.
What she loved best about Wulfhall were the three gardens that
immediately surrounded it. She wandered into My Old Lady’s Garden,
which faced the house and was named for her Grandmother Seymour,
who had been born Elizabeth Darrell and died soon after Jane was born.
She had had a passion for growing things, and the garden she had
created was gloriously colourful with roses, gillyflowers and pansies in
season, as well as pretty shrubs and bushes tamed into the shapes of
chess pieces. To the east lay My Young Lady’s Garden, which had
always been Mother’s domain. The herb beds she had planted after her
marriage were still flourishing, useful for cooking, making medicines
and unguents and sweetening the rushes that carpeted the floors. To
the west, there was the Great Paled Garden with its painted picket fence
and the wilderness of wild flowers where Jane and her siblings still
indulged in their childish romps.
As she sat on a bench, enjoying the night air, she thought how
fortunate she was to have the most wonderful mother in the world.
Lady Seymour was the heart of the household. For all Sir John’s
masculine authority, Wulfhall revolved around her. Most mornings
found Jane and Margery in the kitchens or the still room, where Mother
gave them instruction in running a great establishment.
‘It will serve you well against the time when it pleases God to send
you husbands,’ she had told them. Seeing Jane about to open her
mouth, she had added, with a twinkle, ‘Nuns need to be good housekeepers
Bustling about, she would be checking that the meats were being
timely turned on the spits, and that the bread was risen for baking. For
all her gentle birth – and she was descended from kings – Mother was
not above attending to such duties or even carrying them out herself.
She took her responsibility as mistress of a knightly household seriously.
Her table was legendary in these parts, her reputation sterling. Woe
betide any cook or kitchen wench – or any daughter, for that matter –
whose work fell short of her expectations.
Not that the servants disliked or feared her. She was a humane lady,
and kindly, but she would be respected and obeyed. Rarely did she have
to raise her voice to anyone, or resort to the beatings so often meted out
by others in authority. Even the unruly Thomas did her bidding without
question. All her children adored her, and her servants blessed her for a
godly and bountiful mistress. Few left her service through choice.
Mother strove unfailingly to instil in all her charges the moral virtues
of chastity, honesty, humility and docility. Her girls were raised to be
loyal and obedient to their parents and – when the time came – to their
husbands, and to conduct themselves soberly as became Christian
gentlewomen. Above all, she taught her children to love God, to respect
their betters and to honour the King and the Lord Pope in Rome.
Often, as she stood at the large scrubbed table in the kitchen,
or distilled perfumes and physick in the still room, Mother would
reminisce, for she too believed that her children should be steeped in
their family’s history. They could all recite that she had been born a
Wentworth of Suffolk, and that she was descended from Edward III,
the mighty House of Neville and Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, hero of
the long-ago Battle of Shrewsbury. As a young girl she had been a
celebrated beauty. Even now, at forty-one, she was smoothly plump as
a partridge with a clear, rosy complexion and fair hair.
‘When I was seventeen,’ she liked to tell Jane and Margery, ‘I was
maid to the Duchess of Norfolk in Yorkshire, and in Maytime they
staged a pageant at Sheriff Hutton Castle, where a goodly laureate’s
garland of silk, gold and pearls was presented to a young poet, Master
Skelton, in honour of his talent. He wrote me a poem.’ Her eyes would
grow distant, as if she were seeing that long-ago summer and recalling
how it had felt to be a young girl on the brink of life. ‘It was entitled
“To Mistress Margery Wentworth”. He called me a pretty primrose.’
Jane thought it a description that was still apt. There was a copy of the
poem, written in some spiky hand, among the family papers. It had
been taken out for display on several occasions.
As Mother’s hands worked deftly at cutting pastry roses, she liked
to reminisce on her courtship. ‘Two years after Master Skelton wrote
that poem, I met your father. He had just been knighted, and he
asked for my hand. Oh, he was a handsome swain, and I was smitten.
He was accounted one of the new men, who were much favoured
by the old King; men who were making their way by loyalty, hard
work and diligence, rather than by nobility of birth. Your Grandfather
Wentworth perceived those qualities in him, and saw rightly
that he would make me a good husband. For your father, of course,
it was a highly advantageous match, much in the family tradition,
for by marrying well, your Seymour ancestors increased their lands and
wealth, and their standing in the world. But our marriage was the
greatest of them all. And to be happy in it is the crowning blessing.’
Mother would dimple and blush a little, for all her mature years. That
her parents were happy anyone could see, but Jane had observed other
married people together, and knew that not all got on so well. Marriage
seemed to be as big a gamble as the games of chance they played on
The morning after the feast, nearly everyone slept late, many nursing
sore heads. Jane arose from the bed she shared with Margery, hoping to
snatch some time alone in the chapel before Mother emerged and
summoned her to help in the kitchens.
The chapel was beyond the Broad Chamber. Beneath its traceried
windows of stone and the stained glass depicting the Annunciation
stood an altar adorned with an embroidered silk frontal, a jewelled
crucifix and an old and much revered plaster statue of the Virgin and
Child. Jane thought that the face of Mary was the most beautiful thing
she had ever seen, so calm, demure and serene, as she herself must
always try to be in emulation of the Holy Mother.
The air was redolent with the scent of the flowers Mother had
arranged in honour of the newly-weds. Kneeling at a prayer desk before
the altar was Father James, the family priest, who had tutored Jane and
her brothers from their infancy. How well she remembered the horn
book that had hung around her neck and the hard labour of learning
her letters, her numbers and her catechism. When she grumbled, she
had been told that she was lucky indeed to have forward-thinking
parents who believed that little girls would benefit from learning their
letters. She had far preferred the needlework her mother taught her.
The embroidered caps and bodices she made as gifts were the pride of
many of her friends. The altar frontal was also her work, and she trusted
that her skill would be put to good use at Amesbury. In her mind, her
future was settled.
Father James crossed himself and rose to greet her, extending his
hands in welcome.
‘Jane, my daughter!’
He was a dear man, much beloved by his small flock, and to Jane a
friend in whom she could confide.
‘Father,’ she said, ‘I came to pray, but now that I find you here,
I would seek your help.’
‘Sit down, my child,’ Father James said, indicating Sir John’s leatherstudded
chair. ‘How can I help you?’
Mother was in the Broad Chamber, seeing to it that the servants
restored it to normal after the feast.
‘May I speak with you?’ Jane asked.
‘What’s the matter?’ Mother asked, frowning at one of the maids.
‘Nell, please wipe that table properly!’
‘Can we be private? Please, Mother.’
‘Very well.’ Lady Seymour beckoned to the steward. ‘See that the
room is left tidy,’ she commanded, then led Jane to her closet, the little
room that was her personal domain, where all her papers and records
were stored. From here, she ruled the household.
‘Now,’ she said, sitting down at the table. ‘What is troubling you,
Jane took the stool that stood ready for anyone wanting a quiet word
with the mistress. ‘Mother, I really mean this. I want to be a nun at
Lady Seymour gave her a long look. ‘I know. But Jane, you are yet
to see your eleventh birthday, and this is not a decision to be taken
lightly. When you are older, some young man might ask for your hand,
and all thoughts of being a nun might fly out of the window. I know,
I have seen it happen – and too late, in one instance. The girl, a cousin
of mine, met the youth when he came with her family to see her take
her final vows. He was betrothed to her sister, but when she saw him
after the ceremony, she was utterly smitten. It was the ruin of her.
I would not have that happen to you.’
Jane felt tears of frustration welling. ‘But I know I have a vocation.
I’ve just told Father James, and he did not try to put me off. He told
me to talk to you, with his blessing. Mother, you know how I long to
go to the good sisters and live in the peace of that beautiful priory. I do
not want to marry.’
‘Dear child, there is often no peace to be had in a convent, and inner
peace is obtained only at very great cost. It is a hard life, not an escape.
You must understand this.’
Jane sighed. ‘Why does everyone try to make it difficult for me?’
Mother smiled. ‘If you truly have a vocation, God will wait for you.
But you need to understand many things before you take that step, not
least what you will be giving up. Child, do not look at me like that. All
I ask is that you stay in the world and learn more of it before you decide
to forsake it. If you still feel the same when you are eighteen, then I will
speak to your father.’
‘Eighteen?’ Jane echoed. ‘That’s eight years away.’
‘Jane, listen.’ Mother’s voice was tender. ‘You will change in many
ways over the coming years. At eighteen, you will be a different person,
and much more mature. Bide your time in patience. Good things are
worth waiting for.’
‘That’s my final word at this time. And don’t go running to Father.
He and I are of one mind on this matter.’
The King’s Painter by bestselling historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to the captivating fourth novel in the Six Tudor Queens series, Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets.
‘There are certain matters that are better handled by ladies than by ministers or ambassadors’
King Henry VIII is set to marry a woman he’s never met. Wary of rumours whispered by foreign envoys, he sends Susanna Gilman, royal painter and trusted friend, to Kleve to find out more about his chosen bride.
Before long, Susanna is returning to England with the Princess Anna, assuring the King she is a suitable match. But the King is disappointed – Anna is not as beautiful as her portrait.
Susanna is called upon once again to use her position as confidante to the new Queen to find out more about her past, and free the King from his marriage. But will she be able to put her blossoming friendship with Anna to one side to fulfil her duty to the King?
Each sunset, as I go to the chapel, I find myself looking for her. I look for details. What she is wearing, some clue to her identity. But she fades away if I look at her directly. I can just glimpse the blur of a hood, or a widow’s wimple, and those sad eyes, staring at something – or someone – I cannot see.
Anne Basset served four of Henry VIII’s queens, yet the King himself once pledged to serve her. Had fate not decreed otherwise, she might have been his wife – and Queen of England.
But now, far from court and heavy with her husband’s child, Anne prays in the Hungerford chapel, and awaits the ghostly figure she knows will come. This is her story, one that entwines with the fate of another Lady Hungerford from not so many years before. They say there’s a curse on this family…
Featuring the first chapter of Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets.
I was to be chief mourner – I, for whom Queen Jane had done more than anyone. She could never have filled the shoes of my dear, sainted mother – no one could – but she had done her very best to restore me to my rightful place in my father’s affections, and for that I shall always be grateful.
Henry VIII’s third queen is dead, leaving the King’s only son without a mother and the country without a queen. And as preparations are being made for Queen Jane’s funeral, her stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, laments the country’s loss.
But, only a month later, the King has begun his search for a new wife. Will Mary accept this new queen, or will she be forced to live in the shadows of Queen Katherine, Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane for ever?
A spellbinding companion piece to Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, featuring the first chapter of the novel.
The Grandmother’s Tale by historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to the spellbinding third novel in the Six Tudor Queens series, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
SIX TUDOR QUEENS. SIX NOVELS. SIX YEARS.
The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to the Sunday Times bestseller Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second novel in the spellbinding series about Henry VIII’s queens.
‘May I have the pleasure of your hand in the dance, mademoiselle?’
1515 – Dressed in wine-coloured satin, with her dark hair worn loose, a young Anne Boleyn attends a great ball at the French court. The palace is exquisitely decorated for the occasion, and the hall is full with lords and ladies – the dancing has begun. Anne adores watching the game of courtly love play out before her eyes, though she is not expecting to be thrown into it herself. But moments later, a charming young man named Philippe du Moulin approaches to ask for her hand in the dance. And before she can resist, so begins Anne’s first lesson in love.
The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today is an e-short and companion piece to the Sunday Times bestseller Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second novel in the spellbinding series about Henry VIII’s queens.
Jo, historian and long-term admirer of Anne Boleyn, takes a group on a guided tour of the Tower of London, to walk in the shoes of her Tudor heroine. But as she becomes enthralled by the historical accuracy of her tour guide and the dramatic setting that she has come to love, something spectral is lurking in the shadows . . .
The Blackened Heart by foremost and beloved historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece that bridges the first two novels in the Six Tudor Queens series, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick will delight in this mysterious tale, drawn together from fragments of history – and a good dose of speculation. Or is it…?
Margery Otwell, a self-made gentleman’s young daughter, gets her first taste of courtly life when she takes up a position as chamberer to Lady Peche of Lullingstone Castle. Dances, music, feasting – and a seduction – follow, and Margery learns the rules of courtly love the hard way.
Saved from disgrace by the kindly Sir John Peche, Margery finds herself at court waiting on Queen Katherine. Little does Margery know that she is already a pawn in a game of power, irrevocably bound to the fall of the lady she will come to love as her mistress, Queen and friend.
Six Tudor Queens: Writing a New Story is an introduction to the Six Tudor Queens series by eminent historian Alison Weir. The lives of Henry VIII’s queens make for dramatic stories that will offer insights into the real lives of the six wives based on extensive research and new theories that will captivate fans of Philippa Gregory and readers who lost their hearts (but not their heads) to the majestic world of Wolf Hall.
In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal …Read extract
The idea of writing a series of six novels about the wives of Henry VIII came suddenly to me as I was discussing another proposal with my agent. It was an obvious choice, for I have studied Henry’s queens over several decades, and published books on them, notably a collective biography in 1991, which I am now re-researching and rewriting.
The lives of the six wives make for dramatic stories. The extensive research I have done has afforded new insights into their lives. In all the romancing, for example, has anyone noticed the evidence that tells us what Anne Boleyn felt about being pursued by Henry VIII? Or that Henry VIII, an overprotected teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? I could go on…
I want to seek out the truths that lie behind the historical evidence and, for this, fiction is a versatile medium because it offers scope to develop ideas that have no place in a history book, but which can help to illuminate the lives of these queens. A historian uses such inventiveness at her peril – but a novelist has the power to get inside her heroine’s head, which can afford insights that would not be permissible to a historian, yet can have a legitimate value of their own – although I believe that the fictionalised version must be compatible with what is known about the subject.
Arthur: Prince of the Roses by bestselling historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to her stunning novel, Katherine of Aragon, the first in a spellbinding six-novel series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick will love this insight into the story of this illfated Tudor prince.
‘You are the first prince of my line, the Tudor line.’
Arthur, the first Tudor prince, is raised to believe that he will inherit a kingdom destined to be his through an ancient royal bloodline. He is the second Arthur, named for the legendary hero-king of Camelot.
To be a worthy ruler, he must excel at everything – and show no weakness. But Arthur is not strong, and the hopes of England weigh heavy on his slight shoulders. And, all the while, his little brother Harry, the favoured, golden son, is waiting in the wings.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth best-selling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Katherine Swynford, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York. Alison has also published five historical novels, including Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess, about Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces, and is married with two adult children.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and five historical novels. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII.