Sorry for not posting any new chapters in the past couple weeks, this isn't dead or anything, college has just been kicking my ass. Expect something new and big tonight though...
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Chapter 145, September 1525
Outskirts of Paris, Kingdom of France, September 1525

They were in France now, ready to make Joanna a Queen, fulfilling yet another part of the Treaty of Madrid. The litter was quite opulent, the King had not spared a single expense after seeing them off at Calais. Tudor roses were engraved all over the white interior, and the curtains embroidered with biblical scenes. It seemed like this would be the perfect journey, Giovanna certainly hoped it would be. There were four them in the carriage, two pairs of friends. The Dowager Queen of England sat in the rear seat, with Elizabeth, the Countess of Ormond and Wiltshire to her left. Directly across from them was Joanna, and next to her, Catherine “Catie” Parr. They were all comfortable, for early autumn in France was quite temperate. Catie slept, unconsciously resting her head against Joanna’s shoulder. Joanna for her part did not seem to mind at all, contentedly reading her copy of The City of God, every so often peaking her head out the window to look at the surrounding countryside.

Anthony had gone with them; his wife having given birth to yet another child two months ago. Despite this, things between them were strong, particularly as he came all this way to help Giovanna marry her daughter off, serving in her escort. They had been involved with each other for over ten years now, and though Giovanna was nearly fifty, she had no doubts that she was his one true love. The woman smiled to herself at the thought, she felt on top of the world in this moment.

“I see how you look at him.” Joanna noted, a hint of reproach in her voice, bundling herself up in her furs.

Sinking back into her seat Giovanna asked,”Whatever do you mean?”

Her daughter huffed, shutting the book she held,“I’m not a child anymore mother, I know perfectly well what kind of things you have been up to with him.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Why?” Joanna asked.
“Alright, then.” Giovanna sighed,”I will explain it to you even if it is not to your satisfaction. Your father had been dead for years when Anthony Wingfield became my lover. I was lonely, there could never be another man like my Henry, but Anthony and I came to know each other, he comforted me in my grief. He helped me raise Charles, taught him what it was to be a man. That is why Anthony and I have, and continue, to love each other."

“You sully my father’s memory.” Joanna scoffed.

“Who are you judge me? He would not expect me to live as a nun. Charles has no such scruples, so why should you?”
Joanna shook her head slowly, quieting herself as Catie had started to stir,“Because… because unlike you, and even my brother, I have never been ever to follow my own heart. After a time, I resigned myself to that, but now I am marrying a man that I have never met, a man who will surely resent me. I had hoped that I could have at least marry a man who knew me.”

Giovanna suddenly felt very sad for her daughter. Joanna was just seventeen and had no idea what awaited her as Queen of France. What others saw as an opportunity; she saw as a curse. The woman had no words that could help the girl, so she simply nodded, showing that she felt for her daughter.

Château de Fontainebleau, Kingdom of France, September 1525

Giovanna had never been in a French castle, and she had to admit, it was simply splendid. There was a culture, a fashion, that she had not seen since her days in Italy. Her uncle Ferdinand had considered the French decor to be frippery for those who weren’t “real men”, but what had he known beyond war and politics? The wide gallery leading up to the chapel was lovely, tapestries depicting Greek myths, such as that of Hercules and his trials, hung from the walls, while their shoes clicked against the marble floor.

Walking behind her daughter into the chapel while Maud, Catie and the others carried her train, Giovanna of Naples took stock of those in attendance, particularly, King Francis’s motherless children.

All of King Francis’s children were there, save for Charles and Marguerite who were too young attend.

The Dauphin of France stood wearing a pair of dark trousers, blue doublet and a cap. His brother Henri wore a similar outfit, while his sisters wore blue dresses, blue being the color of France and her royal family after all. The Dauphin Francis, for his part, was to receive a bride from the Treaty of Madrid as well. He had been promised to the next living daughter of the King of Spain, Ferdinand VI, and his wife Queen Isabella, when she eventually would be born. All the others did not have betrothals at this time, and it was unlikely that Princess Madeline ever would, she, like her mother, was very frail. Though this was supposed to be a happy occasion, Giovanna of Naples could not help but notice that more than a few of the nobles seemed unhappy to have the English as well as her daughter there. While for the most part they were silent, she could pick out a few detracting voices.

“I hope she will be worth Boulogne!” One of the voices quietly hissed.

Giovanna almost flinched at the words, fearing what her daughter would face in France if some were unwelcoming. In truth, the French had not lost too much to the English, for Saint-Pol was returned to them as Joanna’s dowry but they were a proud people, loath to give up their lands. It was understandable to Giovanna, but she would give them no sympathy, they had tried to conquer her first home, Naples, many times, it was only fitting that war had finally been brought to them.

The war in Italy had been an abject failure for the French, they had lost Milan to her Sforza Duke, returned from exile, and now King Francis had nearly lost his life. He had recovered, of course, but the man seemed skinnier, and not in a good way either. Despite this, King Francis looked rather handsome for his age, with a swarthy complexion, dark hair, and gentle brown eyes that made it seem that he was always happy. He was also, of course, a womanizer, so she hoped that her daughter would be more tolerant of infidelity than Eleanor had been. Looking to her, she saw that Joanna did not betray any emotion. The girl simply stepped forward and knelt beside her husband before the Archbishop of Reims, the perfect image of a Queen.


The ceremony had ended, and now they were preparing for the rest of the night. The new Queen’s suite of rooms did not lack for anything, and she seemed pleased by them. Soon Joanna would bathe, and after that, the union would be consummated.

A woman in between Giovanna and her daughter in age curtseyed before the Dowager Queen of England and Queen of France, piercing blue eyes staring up at them, under her French hood,“I am Marie de Rohan, Lady of Guémené. Now that we have a Queen of France, I am to be Première dame d'honneur to Her Majesty. If you have any questions about King Francis or the court, you may ask…”

Joanna dipped her head,”Thank you my Lady Guémené, I know that I will be able to count on you to guide me here, for we are also kin.”

Marie bowed before backing out of the room, to see to the preparations for the Queen’s bath,.“You honor me Your Majesty.”

Before her, Diane de Poitiers held a jewelry box,”Jewels from His Majesty, he wishes to see that you are comfortable here, and have the status befitting a Queen.”

Joanna took it into her hands without hesitation and remarked,”Men grow cold as women grow old, but diamonds will last forever.”
The Dowager Queen of Naples looked to Diane and smiled,”Thank you, you may leave us so that I may speak to my daughter privately.”

So, Diane de Poitiers left the room, apparently eager to please the new Queen of France and her mother. Now without all the ladies around, Giovanna walked over to her daughter, and the two stood across from each other, the height difference wasn’t as large as Giovanna and her son, but the top of her head was barely level with Joanna’s chin.

Alone, Joanna confided in her mother,”I do not know if he and I will ever love each other, but I intend to make the best of this. I have learned from you, my sisters and Queen Eleanor that we choose little in our lives, but what we can choose is how we adapt to our circumstances.”

Giovanna’s eyes prickled with tears, and she bobbed her head, shaking,”Yes my poor girl, that is too true.”

The two then shared one last embrace for the night, so Giovanna left for the chambers that had been set aside for her. She would need her rest if she was to be able to leave her daughter behind in two days’ time.

After this, they would all go to Antwerp, save for Joanna and her ladies, and then, Copenhagen. She needed to see the other girls she had raised, Catherine and Mary, who now had children of their own. It had been too long since Giovanna had seen them, distance and the war had made it so, but now the Dowager Queen was going try her hardest to make up for lost time. It was bittersweet, she would be leaving one daughter to see the others.
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Hopefully Joanna can make the best of it in France. And looking forward to see how Cat and Mary are doing!
I think she will! She may not love Francis but she knows that being Queen of Frande is her whole future now, and she can hardly avoid it. Cat and Mary will be very happy to see Giovanna, that much is certain!
Chapter 146, November 1525
Alcázar of Madrid, Kingdom of Castile, November 1525

The second day of November was crisp, and the sky was clear of clouds. The woman walked gracefully, her daughter in tow behind her. She looked up at the oak tree, now having shed nearly all its leaves. Upon one of the branches, roughly halfway up the height of the tree, was a bird’s nest. The mother bird only had one chick, but Catalina could tell she loved it as any mother would. It held out a worm in its beak, patiently waiting for her hungry chick to take it. It was a scene that she found very sweet, it made her think of herself and her own child.

“What kind of bird is that?” Maria asked, ever inquisitive.

“It’s a robin.” Catalina murmured,”When I was Regent of Castile and Aragon I ordered that all those who lived on royal property should be protected.”
“What is so special about them?”

Catalina pointed at the mother bird,“You see the red on her chest?”

Her daughter nodded, silent as she listened.

“Well, you see, I learned in England that they have them because a robin comforted Jesus as he was being crucified, and now all robins carry the mark of Christ's blood upon them.”

“I see.” Maria replied,”Then you were wise to care for them mama.”

Catalina shrugged,”It is not me. God’s will has brought me there and back again. It is only fitting that I should learn something from my journey.”

With that the two stood and watched the birds, happy to have a moment’s peace.

This was Maria’s first visit to Spain. Catalina had decided that they would split their time between Portugal and Spain. They would spend autumn and winter in Portugal, while spring and summer they would go to Spain. This time was an exception, however. The Dowager Queen of Portugal had been invited by her niece and nephew to visit, for Isabella was with child. As Maria was now old enough to travel, Catalina had believed that this would as good a time as any for her to meet her Spanish family.

They were back in the Alcázar after their little outing, mother and daughter were settling back into their rooms. Catalina took pleasure in the fact that Maria’s first impulse was to clean up, washing her hands and face with the water basin.

Catalina took her glove off and turned towards her daughter,”Would you like to meet my old teacher, La Latina after we have pray the Angelus?”

A maid gave the Infanta a cloth to dry her hands off, and the child nodded her head as she took it,”Yes that would be lovely mama.”

Coincidentally, Beatriz Galindo entered the room, bowing deep despite her age,”Your Majesty.”

Catalina grinned as she saw her old teacher, it had been years since the two had last spoken,“Latina! It’s so good to see you!”

“It’s good to see you as well Queen Catalina. I have news of Her Majesty and her child.”

“What is it? I trust you have seen them both through this?”

“Yes, I have.” Beatriz answered,”It is a healthy Infante, King Ferdinand would like you to come meet the babe.”

“Of course, the King is most generous.”

So, within minutes the three would find themselves within the Queen of Spain’s bedchambers, where the smell of incense entered their nostrils. From the whispers that she heard from the Queen’s ladies, Catalina had learned that the Archbishop of Granada, Pedro Portocarrero, had been summoned for the Queen’s comfort. Indeed, when Catalina saw her niece, laying silent in her bed, her heart leapt and she turned to her old teacher,”I thought you said they were both fine Doña Beatriz?”

“They are.” Beatriz answered,”The birth was very taxing for Her Majesty, but fear not, she is only resting.”

Catalina was relieved, for a moment she had feared the worst. I must thank the Lord for his infinite mercy.

At the opposite end of the room, by the window, her nephew stood smiling. Ferdinand looked much more man than boy, now yet had not changed that much. He was still tall and lean, his face clean shaven, as he preferred. Her sister Juana was next to him, looking very pleased. She was not yet fifty, and yet she was a grandmother many times over. Catalina felt it suited her, even if two decades ago she could not imagine her eldest surviving sister as a doting grandmother.

“Come see Alfonso.” Ferdinand beckoned.

Catalina and Maria walked over, careful not to deserve Isabella as they did so. Standing across from her nephew, Catalina of Aragon laid eyes upon the bundle in his arms.

The baby boy in Ferdinand’s arms was simply adorable. He had his mother’s red-gold hair, and her cerulean eyes. Alfonso may be of the House de Habsburgo, but Catalina could see that he was just as much a Trastámara as her.

“He’s beautiful, healthy too.” Catalina remarked.

Ferdinand chuckled lightly as the babe cooed, and the Dowager Queen of Portugal gently squeezed her sister’s hand.

“I had a dream.” Juana murmured,”Alfonso will be King one day, but not of Spain.”

“Truly?” Catalina asked, raising her brow.

“Yes truly. You’ll see, one day he’ll prove me right sister.”
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