Mary – Tudor Princess
by Tony Riches
From the author of the international best-selling Tudor Trilogy, the true story of the Tudor dynasty continues with the daughter of King Henry VII, sister to King Henry VIII. Mary Tudor watches her elder brother become King of England and wonders what the future holds for her.
Born into great privilege, Mary has beauty and intelligence beyond her years and is the most marriageable princess in Europe. Henry plans to use her marriage to build a powerful alliance against his enemies. Will she dare risk his anger by marrying for love?
Meticulously researched and based on actual events, this ‘sequel’ follows Mary’s story from book three of the Tudor Trilogy and is set during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Excerpt from Chapter Seven – Autumn, 1514
Ten miles from Abbeville a group of riders appeared in the distance. This time, outriders carried the flag of France and, as they approached, Lady Guildford turned to Mary.
‘I suspect this to be the king himself. If I am not mistaken, your moment has come, my lady.’
‘Surely he should wait for us to make our entry into Abbeville?’
‘That is how we would do it in England, but it seems everything is done differently here.’
‘What should I say? How should I greet him, Lady Guildford?’
‘My advice is to let him do the talking.’ She smiled. ‘I suspect the king’s impatience has got the better of him.’
They watched as the riders came closer. Mary spotted a figure riding a powerful warhorse, caparisoned with cloth of gold and black silk, flanked by French knights in silver armour with flowing blue capes. Behind him followed several hundred nobles dressed in colourful robes. This was not like any hunting party she’d ever seen in England.
Sir Thomas Howard rode to her side. ‘I recognise King Louis, Your Grace.’ He peered ahead. ‘Would you wish me to announce you?’
Mary nodded. ‘If you will, Sir Thomas.’ Her dry throat muted her words and she glanced again at Lady Guildford for reassurance. ‘Please convey apologies for our delay.’
They watched as Sir Thomas rode ahead and saw him nodding as he addressed the king. Henry chose the earl as his representative for good reason. As well as his impeccable French, he was an experienced commander and proving to be a skilled negotiator and diplomat.
Mary steadied her horse as the king approached, not sure if she should remain in the saddle or dismount. At last, after all the waiting, she would meet her new husband. She took a deep breath and attempted a smile, then on an impulse raised her hand to her mouth and blew him a kiss, as she’d done to greet her father so many years ago.
The king seemed confused for a moment, then grinned and raised his hand to blow her a kiss in return, before riding up to her and bowing his head. ‘We welcome you to France, my queen.’ He spoke in French, with a cultured accent, and his blue eyes fixed her with an intense, piercing stare.
As she feared, Mary found herself unable to recall her rehearsed words of greeting. King Louis had a deeply lined face and looked older than she’d imagined. Although not as pockmarked as she’d heard, she found herself wondering why he chose to remain clean-shaven when a beard would hide the disfiguring scars.
A large fly buzzed noisily around her horse’s head, breaking the silence. She swallowed hard and returned his bow.
‘My husband. I have waited so long for this moment.’ It was true.
Louis smiled, revealing a few blackened teeth and reminding Mary of her father. ‘You are more beautiful than I hoped, my lady. I give thanks to God for your safe arrival.’ He urged his horse closer as he spoke, then leaned across and embraced her, placing a kiss on her lips.
‘I feared for your safety in the storm. There were reports of shipwrecks.’ He remained close as he spoke, his sharp eyes appraising her as if she were some precious jewel offered for sale.
Mary struggled to compose herself. ‘Two of our ships were lost, Your Grace.’
Louis nodded. ‘We trusted in the Lord to deliver you to us – and now we must be married in the sight of God.’ He raised a hand and beckoned one of his followers.
Mary was surprised to see Duke Francis ride forward. He seemed less arrogant in the presence of the king and acted more like his servant than the heir presumptive. Again, the duke bowed his head to her but this time there was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke in accented English.
‘King Louis has given me the great honour of escorting you to Abbeville, my lady.’
Mary returned his smile. Despite Catherine’s warning, she saw Duke Francis as a useful ally in this strange land. ‘Thank you, my lord duke,’ she replied in English. ‘I shall be glad of your company.’
King Louis bowed once more and returned to his hunting party, which rode off as quickly as they’d arrived. Mary turned to Lady Guildford and saw her nod of approval. The first test had been passed. Now she must learn to become a queen.
About the Author:
Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter, See links below.