Six Roses, Red and White : A Tudor TL

I: Greenwich, March 1510
Greenwich, March 1510

Catalina de Aragon, Queen of England let out a scream as another wave of pain passed over her. Gripping tightly to the arms of her birthing chair, she forced herself to push yet again. As the extreme tightness in her sides subsided, she relaxed and collapsed back against the chair in exhaustion. Nearly an hour now she had been pushing and still her son did not want to come…

“One more push, my lady,” her closest friend, Maria de Salinas, said calmly in Spanish, taking a cool, wet cloth and pressing it to Catalina’s forehead, “One more push and you’ll see your prince.”

“Thank you, Doña de Salinas,” Catalina said in English, breathing heavily, “Though I wish he would move more quickly…”

“Keep faith, Your Majesty. I have seen many children take this long to leave the womb without damage to mother or baby,” Catalina’s midwife said, poking her head up from between her legs.

At that point, Catalina could only nod in acknowledgement because she was in the throes of another contraction. She could barely hear both Maria and the midwife urging her to push again before a newborn’s wail pierced the air. Hearing her first child’s first cry, Catalina felt tears wetting her cheek, mingling with the sweat of her labor.

“Congratulations, Your Majesty,” a nursemaid said, placing Catalina’s still bloody baby in her arms mere seconds later, “It is a healthy baby girl, a bonny princess for England.”

Catalina wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. A daughter. A healthy daughter, but a daughter still. She would love the girl more than anything else in the world, of course, but the real question was how Henry would react…

-​

As soon as Henry saw the solemn look on Charles Brandon’s face, he knew that the news was bad. Brandon was perhaps the one man in the world whom he could call a friend, and so he knew he was not one for unoccasioned solemnity. Henry could feel the blood pounding in his ears as he watched his guards admit Brandon into his privy chamber.

“Is it the Queen?” Henry asked, springing up from his chair as soon as Brandon reached him, “Did something happen? Is my son alright?”

An uncomfortable expression passed over the older man’s face, “Her Majesty is in perfectly fine health, as is the child...”

Henry exhaled in relief, “Oh thank God. You shouldn’t scare me like that, Charles, I-”

“The child is a girl,” Brandon blurted, before Henry could get another syllable out.

Henry froze. What had Brandon just said? The child was a girl? The entire room, including the lutenist playing in the corner, seemed to go silent as Henry digested this news. His firstborn child, a daughter? Well...it wasn’t what he had expected, but a healthy baby was still a healthy baby. And Katherine had fallen with child easily enough, he could only assume that there would be more to follow, a son and heir surely among them. Certainly now this would also give him even more reason to visit her bed, which was not an idea that displeased him.

Taking it in stride, Henry just grinned and clapped Brandon on the back, “Right, well, it’s a girl now but strapping sons are sure to follow. Should we go see my new daughter, then?”

Brandon laughed heartily in approval, and the two men were off to see Henry’s wife and daughter.

-​

Catalina had been cleaned up, changed into a fresh shift that was not stained with the blood and sweat of childbirth, and propped up in her bed by the time her husband came to see her. She was exhausted in a way that she had never been before but, looking down at her beautiful little daughter, set in the crook of her right arm, her heart could not help but swell with happiness, pride, and love. She only hoped that Henry would feel the same way about their girl.

“Where is my Lady Princess?” Henry said, bursting into the room, a boyish grin on his face.

Catalina smiled, “She is here, my lord.”

Henry hurried over to Catalina’s bedside, shooing out her ladies and midwife as he did so. Once they were alone, he hopped onto the bed, laid next to Catalina and rested his chin on her shoulder, joining her in gazing at their child.

“She is the second loveliest thing I have ever beheld,” Henry said after a moment.

“Oh?” Catalina asked, raising an eyebrow, “And what is the loveliest thing, then?”

“You, of course,” Henry replied with a smirk, “But that is...a different kind of beauty.”

Catalina flushed, “Well...my lord...I…”

“We will call her Elizabeth,” Henry said then, “For I truly do not think she could be called anything else.”

“It’s perfect,” Catalina nodded, beaming at her husband. Then she glanced down at her Elizabeth, who was now sleeping off the excitement of her birth, and her heart which had seemed so full before seemed to get even fuller still.
 
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So this is the timeline from the poll.

Alright, I can't wait to see the following events.

Liked and Watched with great interest.
 
Right names, wrong order - it's Elizabeth, Mary, Katherine, Margaret, Cecily, and Joanna.

Glad to hear it!
Interesting TL and definitely right order (still I wonder if Anne will not be more likely than Cecily)... Story is pretty intriguing and I wonder what will happen to Mary Tudor (the elder) here. She is engaged to Charles V and in OTL ended marrying Louis XII, but here Henry will have more matrimonial pawn (and Elizabeth is old enough for marrying Charles V around the time of his OTL wedding to Isabella of Portugal, if not earlier)...
 
I was here before the thread marks were is all I'm saying :p
It’s not a joke if it’s true!
I was here before the thread marks were is all I'm saying :p

Jk, good start curly.
So this is the timeline from the poll.

Alright, I can't wait to see the following events.

Liked and Watched with great interest.
Oh boy, here begins the years of disappointment after disappointment for Henry. Excellent start!
Oooh good start
Thank you all for commenting! It’s nice to see the excitement lol
Oooh, this is going to be fun! I am so subscribed.
It is indeed!
Elizabeth is old enough for marrying Charles V around the time of his OTL wedding to Isabella of Portugal, if not earlier
Exactly the point...
definitely right order (still I wonder if Anne will not be more likely than Cecily)
Yeah I may end up switching them when the time comes but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
II: Windsor, July 1510
Windsor Castle, July 1510

Catalina hummed quietly to herself as she stitched away at the embroidery on a cap for Elizabeth. Her daughter was about four months old now and apparently quite an active little baby; Lady Bryan even wrote in her latest missive that Elizabeth had recently rolled over for the first time. It was dreadful to Catalina that she had to miss such milestones but her place was with the King and the King wanted to go to Windsor, for the hunting, so to Windsor she went.

There were other attractions at Windsor as well, and as Catalina glanced around the room at her ladies - who were admittedly mostly young and attractive - she tried not to think of what they might be. She could only assume that her husband had sought the attentions of other women while she was pregnant and unable to lie with him, but now…

Catalina’s thoughts were interrupted by a page in the King’s livery entering the room. Catalina noticed the letter in his hand, sat down her embroidery, and bid him to come forward.

“The King wishes that you would read this, Your Grace,” the page said, presenting the letter, the seal of which had already been broken, to Catalina, “He suggests that you may write a letter of sisterly comfort to the Queen of Scots.”

Catalina raised an eyebrow but said nothing as she took the letter and began reading it. Henry wanted her to write to the Queen of Scots, his sister whom she had known only briefly during her marriage to Arthur and subsequent widowhood? Something terrible must have happened. And indeed, as Catalina read the letter, which had been written not by the Queen of Scots herself but by England’s ambassador in Scotland, it became clear that something terrible had indeed happened - the Scottish Queen and King had lost another child, their son Arthur having died two weeks prior at less than a year of age.

Catalina folded the letter back up and crossed herself, mentally noting that she should visit the chapel later and pray for Elizabeth's continued good health. She wondered briefly as well how Henry was taking the news - no doubt he was pleased, he had never approved of his sister’s marriage in Scotland in the first place and the fact that Margaret Tudor and her Stewart husband had no surviving children yet just seemed to vindicate his view. That was probably also why he could not bring himself to write a letter of condolence to Margaret.

“Please tell the King that I would be happy to write to the Scottish Queen,” Catalina said finally, handing the letter back to the page, “And let him know that I would much enjoy his company this evening, if he would be so kind as to grant it.”

-​

“Blasted letters…” Henry muttered under his breath, frowning down at the pile of papers on his desk. He had come to Windsor to hunt and escape this drudgery which had bogged him down ever since he became king. But the damned beaurocrats kept writing to him about every little thing and he had hardly known a moment’s peace since his arrival. At least he had Anne to think about...there was something intoxicating about the woman, with her raven hair and flashing eyes. Henry had first taken Anne Stafford, Baroness Hastings to his bed during his wife’s pregnancy, as he had every right to do, and the temptation to continue their tryst was still strong even now that Katherine was no longer pregnant. But he also suspected that Katherine might wish him to join her in bed again, as she had sent him a message earlier requesting his company that evening.

Of course, Henry was not disinclined to resume intimate relations with Katherine. She was an intoxicating woman in her own right, and as his wife and queen she was also his only route to getting a legitimate male heir. How wonderful it would be for their Elizabeth to be joined in the nursery by a brother come next spring! Henry was smiling to himself at the thought when William Compton, one of his most trusted gentlemen, stepped into his study.

“Your Majesty,” Compton said by way of greeting, “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes, Will. I was hoping that you could arrange for me to have a moment alone with Lady Hastings...but I’ve had second thoughts on that. I’ll be joining the Queen for dinner tonight, and I’d like for you to find Anne and let her know that I cannot take her to my bed anymore.”

Compton looked surprised at this, “Very well, Your Majesty. If I may ask, why the change of heart?”

“Because a son with a mistress is just a bastard,” Henry said with a shrug, “But a son with my wife is the Prince of Wales.”

-​

That night, Henry and Katherine drank of each other as if they were two parched travelers in a desert who had come upon an oasis.
 
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