Chapter 160, October 1527
Château de Fontainebleau, Kingdom of France, October 1527

They had indeed been given permission to visit France, and so there they were, and Giovanna was happy. Soon, once this bit of ceremony was over, she’d meet her first blood granddaughter. She strode into the hall as the chamberlain shouted,”Sa Majesté Jeanne de Naples, Reine Douairière d'Angleterre.” The whole court seemed to be staring at her, but Giovanna brushed it off. She was an old hand at this, she did not love ceremony, but being well practiced in it meant that it would go without incident.

The woman curtseyed before her son-in-law, the King and her daughter the Queen. Both naturally looked regal, and it was with some relief that she noted that Joanna looked her natural tone, somewhat swarthy rather than pale. She was healthy, there was no doubting that.

It was Francis who spoke, gazing down at the Dowager Queen, looking somewhat smug,”Dowager Queen Giovanna, welcome to my court. I am sure that you shall find everything to your liking here. After all, we have taken the lead in art and the new learning.”

Giovanna knew the King of France was a vain, prideful man, but there was truth in his words. As a Neapolitan herself she could appreciate his importation of Italian culture. So she nodded her head,”Your Majesty has created a vibrant court here, and I am honored to be your guest.”

Her daughter looked down at her, a slight smile on her face. Clearly, she was doing better now, and seeing her mother again made her happy. Giovanna would have made the trip ten times over just to see Joanna happy again.

They were in the nursery, Giovanna, the Queen, and her ladies. At first, it was fairly quiet, though not without reason.

The older children were taking their lessons, so the only child in the room was Princess Jeanne, her granddaughter. Initially somewhat alarmed at a strange, new face, it did not take long for the babe to calm in her grandmother’s loving arms. Soon enough the child fell asleep, and Giovanna looked across to where her daughter sat in a chair of her own,”You were truthful, in your letter. Little Jeanne is a gorgeous babe, but how could she not be? You’re her mother after all.”

The nineteen-year-old blushed at this,“Indeed she is, though perhaps it is also her father’s handsomeness. Whatever my feelings about Francis, he is a good father to Jeanne, he adores her. I think Marguerite might be a little jealous that she is no longer the baby of the family, but she hides it well.”

Giovanna gently smiled at this,”Children are such blessings. Have Francis’s children by Claude taken a liking to you?”
“Indeed they have, well mostly” Joanna answered,”Henri is a bit distant since he was the closest to his mother, but he respects me. All the others, especially Charles and Madeline are such darlings.”

Passing her granddaughter to a nursemaid, Giovanna said,“That’s good to hear. I’m sure the girls will look up to you as a woman to emulate.”

The Queen of France looked to the floor as her sleeping daughter was placed back in her crib, not concurring with her mother’s praise.

The fifteen-year-old Countess of Vaudémont hovered nearby, anxious,”May I order you something to eat or drink, Your Majesty?"

“I’m quite alright Catie, thank you though. We shall go to my chambers to talk more.”

The Queen of France rose to her feet, and when other ladies went to follow her, she shot them an imperious glance,”It shall only be the three of us, the rest of you are dismissed until dinner.”

Several of those ladies looked back at the Englishwoman with suspicion, though having no choice but to obey they walked off to their own rooms, whispering all the while. The Queen of France led the way to her apartments, and they were certainly lavish, filled with all the tapestries and plate befitting a Queen.

Joanna lifted her skirts and sat at the end of her bed, apparently seeking something softer than a chair. Giovanna, therefore, took a seat at the chair adjacent to the bed, settling in easily enough.

Catherine Parr, the Countess of Vaudémont grabbed a book from the small bookshelf while the two Queens began to talk, smirking as she did so.

“What troubles you?” Giovanna asked.

Joanna straightened herself,“Madame de Étampes, Francis’s Maîtresse-en-titre. She remains influential. She is a problem, and one that must be dealt with.”

“Joanna, do you remember what happened when Queen Eleanor tried to poison Mary Boleyn? Trying to kill a rival for the King’s affections will get you nowhere.”

“Murder is not what I have in mind, there are other ways. As for the King’s affections, I do not care. I don’t need his love to be Queen of France, what I need is power. I cannot have power if the Duchesse stands in my way and gives him bad counsel.”

“What is that you oppose her on?” Giovanna asked.

“The new colony at Nouvelle-Angoulême. She believes that it is a waste of money, and I disagree. She wants the King to shower her with money, the whore, rather than make a long-term investment for the future of France.”

“How do you intend to prove that you are right, and Madame de Étampes is wrong?”

“It’s simple.” The Queen of France began,”I will manipulate his fears of Spanish hegemony. I will convince him that he should settle those lands North of the Indies while he still can. Francis will see that if Spain settles those lands, they will use their wealth to fund wars against France. He’ll feel he has no choice but to reinforce Nouvelle-Angoulême, and in time it will make our coffers overflow.”
Giovanna nodded her head,“Then for his sake, he better take your advice.”

Looking up from the book of hours, Catie mumbled,”You will provide the King with a more compelling argument than that woman ever could.”

“Of course, I am her better.” Joanna narrowed her eyes, looking more like a Queen than a girl of nineteen,”I am the daughter of Henry the Seventh, the divine right to rule runs through my veins, that’s the one thing she’ll never have.”
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Assert yourself there Queen J - convince Francis of your cause. Show up that Mistress!

Do Joanna have any soft power outside of persuading Francis? Can she sponsor any voyages or institutions?
Assert yourself there Queen J - convince Francis of your cause. Show up that Mistress!

Do Joanna have any soft power outside of persuading Francis? Can she sponsor any voyages or institutions?
She sure will, at the very least she will show that she truly cares about France, while Madame d'Etampes only cares for her own interests. She could perhaps do so, though it may not necessary, but we'll see in time.