What Mistress Boleyn Wants (Mistress Boleyn Gets)

Well, yeah, but I'm going by the official rules, not the ones they followed! OTL, Anne's man Gardiner had a wife. But then he was a Lutheran flying under a false flag.
24 January 1550 [the second letter: Dowager Queen Marie]
24 January 1550

The Duke of Suffolk read the letter from the dowager aloud.

She wanted: Her dower in full; although she had agreed after her late husband King Henry VIII, that 3/4 of her dower was to be used to care for her children by him and dowries for their daughters; she claimed that she hadn't been 'properly advised' when the arrangement had been made. She was "insulted" that the men of the court treated her so abominably. {The letter conveniently ignored the funds given to her in lieu of her taking crown jewelry out of the country when it was learned that she was planning to 'visit' France.} She charged that the children of Henry VIII should be cared for without her dower monies. She also claimed that not even the monies she had been promised had been paid to her. {Her dower funds were sent to the King of France, in keeping with the marital contract between her and the late King of England.}

Her second request was that an English girl "of high breeding and able to bear children" be sent to her to wed her son Francis, the current Duc of Longueville; he was in need of a bride and a son or else his cousin would inherit the title and lands. She would waive a dowry for the girl if - and only if - her full dower rights were restored to her, since her departure from England.

Her third request was one that had already been mostly fulfilled: that all her clothing, jewelry, religious icons and other personal items (carefully listed) be sent to her at her son's home. [Among 'her jewels' were the crown jewelry for which she had been recompensed even though she was no longer Queen of England.} She expected, at the very least, that this request could be expedited without a lengthy debate. If this did not happen by the end of six weeks she informed them, she would tell His Majesty Henri of France how shabbily she was being treated by a people whose Queen she had once been.

The Duke looked about the rest of the council. The young King was busy copying the Latin work he had been given by the Archbishop during a break in the meeting. {Although no one dared ask if the Archbishop had explained what His Grace Norfolk meant by 'bedwarmer'.

Earl Stanley looked a bit confused; the Dowager Queen had made it quite clear that she did not want an English bride for her first son. She had freely agreed to forego the royal jewels in exchange for gold, and the dower arrangement was only in effect while she resided in France. He was, as Anne had long suspected, not as bright as he seemed to be when you talked with him. She sighed and the rest of the council looked at her expectantly.

"You'll want to hear the letter she sent to me," she told them.
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Why does the letter from the Dowager Queen seem to be actually from the King of France to me?

Maybe Anne's letter will shed some light on this.
Well, yeah, but I'm going by the official rules, not the ones they followed! OTL, Anne's man Gardiner had a wife. But then he was a Lutheran flying under a false flag.
By the official rules celibacy was a job requirement. No ordained priest (nor anyone considered to be have taken even minor Holy Orders) was allowed to contract a valid marriage. They could ask to be laicised (sic) but could not then perform any priestly functions that a lay person could not.

Fornication was a Sin but, like most other sins, Confession, Repentance and Penance would leave the individual still a priest in good standing.

We can rightly call that hypocrisy, especially where evidence for genuine repentance is minimal or zero. How medieval Christians early modern Catholics saw it may be different. It’s unlikely that members of the young King’s Council would find having a mistress or “bed warmer” a cause for criticism in the case of a royal official or bishop.

Those with Reform sympathies would see it as wrong and hypocritical but in practice were little better in power.
Why does the letter from the Dowager Queen seem to be actually from the King of France to me?

Maybe Anne's letter will shed some light on this.
Because Dowager Queen Marie is a strong-willed, arrogant woman who wants to have everything due a Queen Consort and she's still trying to run the council. The strengths that helped OTL her be the guardian of Mary, Queen of Scotland are hindering her because she's got a group of Englishmen [and one woman] who are thwarting her heavily pro-France prejudice.

Also, because of status [she wed the King of Scotland OTL], the King was involved in the marriage contract. And she's had a little help with the letter [Henri II wants the 'Mirror of Naples' French Dowager Queen Mary Tudor got out of the country and into England]. But remember, she saw herself as the rightful leader of the Regency Council.
24 January 1550 [The third letter: Dowager Queen Marie to Dowager Duchess Anne]
24 January 1550

Before she began, Anne looked at the young cleric seated near the fire.

"I believe the king is hungry; are you hungry, your majesty?" She asked.

Henry looked up from the text he'd been copying, smiling and nodding. "Yes, I am." He agreed. His cleric/tutor stood up as the young king pushed away from the table. The cleric looked pointedly at the mess and the pulled out chair, but said nothing. Nor did he move.

With a sigh, King Henry IX pushed his chair in, straightened the papers, and handed them to the tutor. The pair then left the room.

The men looked at Sister Duchess. She took a deep breath and unfolded the thick paper.

"It's dated the same as her letter to the one to the council," she began. " Anne, my dear Sister Duchess, Let me begin by telling you how glorious was to see another woman of wisdom on a council of rough men. It was difficult to leave you alone there. But as my children with Henry are well in your overseeing how the council treats them. As a mother, I know you appreciate the difficulties of finding a suitable bride for a beloved son.

I know that are are in touch with the King and Queen of Scotland, even though my step-daughter refuses to answer my letters and refers them to her husband for replies, and he never addresses the issues I raise. I have asked the Regency Council, but fear the masculine prejudice they hold as men in power will result in them discarding my request. I feel my late, beloved husband would be pleased to know that his Sister Duchess had helped his widow.

Your relationship with Queen Mary should allow you to request a Scottish young lady of breeding as a bride for my son Frances, the Duke of Longueville, should the bigoted men decline to help their former Queen - despite their vows at my wedding to their sovereign. You also have contacts in Europe, as your lovely daughter Queen Lysette of Poland could assist you in my mother's quest for her son. My absence from France seems to have enabled King Henri II to forget his promise to me to find my beloved Frances a bride. You alone of the council, my dearest Anne, can understand my anguish.

Even a daughter of Ireland, should she be of your late brother's (who I know were so close and loved so much) standing. You realize how the French Court would react to an uncouth, lesser-civilized girl. I know your love for England would not allow anything of that sort to happen to a French noble as my son. He is the child of my first husband and since the death of his younger brother, my only living remembrance of his late father, my first love. (As you also wed the man you beloved before your marriage, you will understand my anguish.)

If your Lysette could find even a suitable bride among Queen Mary's Hapsburg's relatives (through her sainted mother Katherine, my beloved Henry's first wife), it would place me forever in your debt.

I do know of one suitable English woman. Lady Christina Grey, granddaughter of the Duke of Suffolk. She is of age, and is of suitable rank to not disgrace my son's dignity before the French King. I dare not approach the Duke of Suffolk with this request, as he is jealous of the closeness I has with my late husband Henry. But I think you could maneuver the union without my having to lose dignity by asking him directly or requesting King Henri to make the offer. I would gladly withdraw my requests (which you will know of since King Henri's scribe sent the missive to the Regency Council) concerning my dower rights. If the Mirror of Naples could be sent as her dowry, I would present it to the greedy man who reigns in France and could return to the French Court as a respected peer of his Queen Catherine. As Lady Christina has an Italian step-mother and, as you have told me in one or more of our conversations, can converse easily in the language, this would also lead to her also being at the French Court (after she bears a son for my son). You can appreciate this from your own youth.

Your assistance in my search to bring happiness to my beloved Frances. I know that you will keep this correspondence secret as a confidence between friends.

Written with a heart of love for a woman I have always admired and prayers for your and your family's continued success and prosperity,
by my own hand,
Dowager Queen of England"

Anne set the letter down, but did not raise her eyes from it as the Duke of Suffolk spewed wine from both his mouth and nose; he'd taken a drink of spiced wine as Anne had begun the closing of the letter.
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24 January 1550 {Decisions}
24 January 1550

"I'm not sending her my granddaughter," Suffolk said decisively. "And has that woman lost her mind? She wanted to be the only woman on the council, she tried to get you off up until she left for France."

Anne shrugged. "She was hoping to appeal to my maternal instincts, I daresay. Unfortunately, I use them only for the King while at council."

Buckingham motioned for more wine as he spoke. "She doesn't want your Christa, Francis wants the Mirror back." There were snorts and laughter around the table. Marie had tried to take it (it was removed from her luggage with other Crown Jewels). The King of Francis had been furious when he learned that his stepmother Mary Rose Tudor had sent it to England ahead of informing Henry VIII of her elopement with Brandon. "Besides," Buckingham paused and took a drink, "her son is more of a weakling than the late Prince Arthur, God rest his soul. Thin and sickly."

"As I recall, Arthur was just susceptible to whatever came along; her son wasn't expected to make it to marital age." Earl Stanley was showing that he was au courant with court gossip.

"I will send her a letter informing her that the English Regency Council declines to find a bride for a French nobleman," the Archbishop said, then addressed Anne: "Will you be replying to your own letter?"

She nodded, "It would be rude not to reply to such a plea. However, " she made a vague wave towards the men with her left hand while availing herself of her wine. "I, a mere woman, can do nothing in this sea of rough men; she shall have to write -" at this point she threw the letter from Marie towards the Duke of Suffolk. "All other monarchs herself since the jealous Duke of Suffolk," at this point she began laughing, "is having my correspondence checked." Everyone began laughing along with her. Anne made a spectacle of raising her hand above her head while looking at Brandon.

A few moments later, having regained their composure, the Archbishop stated, "So I will write the Dowager and send it through the French ambassador - as it was received. Her grace will send a personal missive, and we will be done with the matter. Hopefully."

"She'll write again, at least to her grace," predicted Buckingham. "She'll not believe you're afraid of Suffolk." Buckingham poured himself more wine. " She knows you and Brandon's wife are close."

"She'll not get another reply," Anne said sharply. "She mocks me with such piffle in a letter after the things she said here in this very company. Only a Queen, and no widow of a sick and ailing Duke, should attend this meeting and make decisions for the king." Anne sliced herself some bread and cheese. She hadn't forgotten Marie's true feelings.

"Bring any further letters to us," said Brandon. "After all, we're rough men. And jealous." That brought smiles once again. Anne shrugged as she nodded in agreement.
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Nice to see agreement in the Council.

I am sure those letters will set tongues wagging about the 'downstairs staff'.

Hope those letters survive in the national archive for 'modern' scholars to marvel at.
Still have to get around to finding Al a new wife. It won't be Elizabeth Brooke. Does anyone think Anne would stand for the village bicycle when she can get him a new one?
The Gaming dice have spoken: the lucky bride will be Mary Dudley, daughter of John Dudley, created Earl of Warwick by Henry VIII in 1546 during the Christmas/New Years honors. Since her OTL birth year is somewhere between 1530-35, I'm splitting the difference and she was born in spring 1533. This will make her 17 by the time she weds. Poor Sir Henry Sidley, he'll have to find himself a new bride.

Her father, though, has a lot of frenemies. He's also a schemer and is a little pissed that he's not on the Regency Council. He's pleased to marry into the Percy family, as he envisions advancement from proximity to "Sister Duchess". OTL he became Duke of Northumberland and was beheaded in 1553 under Mary I for dragging Jane Grey out and making her queen; wedding the poor girl to his son Guildford. Just reward, I suppose, for getting Edward VI's uncles executed.
I must admit, the fact that Dudley was made Duke of Northumberland OTL influenced the weight given in the dice, his daughter Katherine is too young. I like the idea of a possibly controversial father in law. And a man of ambition.
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Random question: when I ended up having to break from Alt Hist, AnnaRegina1507 was my beta. Now she's not here. She just disappear like me?
17 February 1550
17 February 1550

To say that Anne was surprised to receive a courier with a letter containing the seal of the Earl of Warwick would have been a gross understatement. She didn't trust the Earl, he was suspected of having Lutheran leanings. Currently, her daughter Honor was betrothed to his son Robert. The letter proposed that his daughter Mary wed her widowed son Algernon while the marriage of Robert and Honor go ahead as planned. Anne wrinkled her nose. That would require a Papal dispensation. There was a knock at her door.

"Enter," she said as she put the letter down.
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