Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rivals in the Tudor Court by DL Bogdan

Thomas Howard is born into a fine family. His father and grandfather long for power and teach the young Howard how to strive for power. He is taught that the Howard Family must ally themselves with the crown, no matter whose head it sits on. At the court of Henry VII, the young Thomas Howard earns a reputation for being a fierce some opponent, both on an off the battlefield. Thomas is soon betrothed to Anne Plantagenet, sister of Henry VII's wife.Thomas marries his princess and begin a family. Thomas is enthralled with his life, a beautiful royal wife, a glowing and growing career and a healthy family. But tragedy strikes, soon his second son is found dead in the crib.But Thomas' Princess gives him another two children, a son and a daughter. But tragedy strikes again. Wills, now the second son, succumbs to a fever. Then six year Maggie dies, followed by her brother dying four months later. The magical princess and the high rising Thomas are now childless. At Henry VIII's coronation, the mourning Thomas meets Elizabeth Stafford, a beguiling child of twelve. Thomas saves the small Elizabeth from the amorous Fra Diego and sends her back to the Queen. At another court function, when the court turns to a festive mood, Thomas saves the same Elizabeth from having her gown stolen. Thomas is soon called upon to save the realm from pirates and succeeds, bringing even more glory to the Howard name. After coming home from yet another war, Thomas is frighted to find his princess dying. She dies, leaving Thomas heartbroken. At his father's urging he meets the Stafford family to find a wife to breed with. Thomas remembers the charming and witty Elizabeth, and asks for her hand. this breaks poor Elizabeth's heart, who had her heart set on another. Though Elizabeth is a endearing girl, she has a sharp tongue that often enrages her husband. Thomas tries to love her, but never can forget his princess. With Queen Catherine by his side, Thomas defeats the Scots at Flodden Field. When he returns home, he finds a plump and pregnant Elizabeth and goes into a shock. To atone for his coolness and begin anew with Elizabeth he presents her with his signet ring. Even a warrior has fears, and Thomas leaves before the baby  Catherine Howard is born.The volatile relationship between Thomas and Elizabeth stabilizes to conceive a second child, Edward. To reward Elizabeth for all she has done for the Howard Family, Thomas showers her with gifts. While Elizabeth is pregnant with their third child, sweating sickness takes little Edward. A son is born to replace the lost one and soon Elizabeth is pregnant again. After a rough pregnancy, the mid wife fears that Elizabeth is dying. Thomas succumbs to his fear and drags Elizabeth from her bed. He cuts her face with his knife before coming to his senses and running away. Elizabeth delivers a girl, Mary. When Thomas sees his new daughter, he knows that she reminds him of someone he lost long ago, his beloved Princess. After missing her husband, Elizabeth returns to his bed and becomes pregnant once again. Not wanting to repeat his previous mistakes, Thomas showers Elizabeth with gifts. Their son, Thomas is born in Ireland while the family is their on a mission for the King. While in Ireland, Elizabeth learns that her sister has married the man that Elizabeth loved before marrying Thomas. She is heartbroken, and knows that her sister will be far happier that she will ever be. Her sisters also informs Elizabeth that their father has been imprisoned for treason and is to be beheaded. Elizabeth flees back to England, hoping to save her father. Instead, she damages her marriage. When Thomas returns to England he is distant and cold. After another long absence, Thomas' father dies and he inherits the title of Duke of Norfolk.When the Duke of Norfolk visits his sister, he notices his niece's servant girl, Bess Holland. Norfolk becomes infatuated with the girl and brings her and her family to live with his family at Kensington Hall.Elizabeth is no fool and when she catches them together, all hell breaks loose. Elizabeth throws the signet ring at the couple and leaves.Thomas tells Elizabeth that if she will stop being such a loyal servant to Queen Catherine, whose star is now declining, he will give up Bess. Elizabeth refuses.When the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk return to London, he becomes sick. Elizabeth nurses him back to health. When the return to Kensington Hall, Thomas showers Bess with his attentions, giving her his signet ring and apartments. Soon the Duke and Duchess are back at court, with Elizabeth and Queen Catherine comforting each other over their husband's infidelities. Henry is more successful that Thomas, arranging a trial to determine the fate of his marriage. The trial plays out and Catherine is degraded.Elizabeth is sent from court for being to loyal of a servant to the aging Catherine.When she arrives at Kensington Hall, she finds that Bess is now the mistress of the house and the children. Even the servants defer to Bess and deal out beatings from the Duke. At court, Anne Boleyn is now on her way to becoming Queen of England with the Duke of Norfolk supporting her. Bess is now called to serve her former mistress as Queen. Elizabeth is miserable, but her misery is even more compounded when she refuses to divorce the Duke. He banishes her to a secluded estate with little property and money. No one dares to visit Elizabeth in her exile. Bess starts to long for a child after the birth of Princess Elizabeth, and the Duke of Norfolk begins to lose faith in his niece. When Anne falls from grace, Bess realizes that the Duke is really a monster. His unchecked ambition will destroy anyone around him. Two Queens come and Two Queens go. The Howard Family remains in the background during these years, but with a vacancy on the Queen's Throne and in the King's bed bring the Duke of Norfolk out of hiding. He finds the perfect girl to fill these vacancies, Kitty Howard. The King is enthralled with the young guileless girl and soon marries her. But, once again, the Howard family faces the King's wrath. The Duke barely escapes this debacle, but is more intent on becoming powerful. Bess becomes pregnant and the Duke takes the child away from her, smashing Bess' domestic dreams. At court, The Duke is frenzied. He tries to push his beautiful daughter, Mary, under the King's nose or marry her off to one of the Seymour boys. Mary refuses both. The Duke of Norfolk and his son are arrested on treason charges, and Elizabeth, Mary and Bess all testify against the Duke. Henry Howard is executed. The Howard in the Duke emerges again, and he survives Henry VIII. He remains imprisoned during King Edward's reign, but it allowed visits from his family. Elizabeth finds freedom in her husbands imprisonment and Bess finds love and marries. She catches a fever while pregnant, and asks for Elizabeth. Elizabeth agrees to see her, and finds that she feels sympathy for the girl who was just as terrified of the Duke as she was. Bess gives Elizabeth the Howard signet ring and dies. Thomas learns to appreciate his wife while in the Tower, but upon his release by Queen Mary the Howard Man reappears. But it is short lived. Thomas is soon sick and dying at Kensington. Elizabeth has bitter sweet feelings. After his death, Elizabeth reaches out to Bess' daughter and tells the girl of her family.

Thomas Howard was a man to be feared. Even in a time where cruelty in some forms was acceptable, this man struck fear into the hearts of those around him. I always viewed Thomas Howard as a monster, and I would venture that I am not the only one. I think that he might have had schizophrenia, but whether it was brought on by his raising, his losses or his ambition I couldn't say. Maybe all three. This book gave me insight into the life of the Duke of Norfolk. I knew that he had taken a mistress and that his wife hated it. I also knew that the relationship between  Elizabeth and Thomas could be quite cold. I never knew about the losses that he faced early in life. I can't imagine losing your whole family and being the only one to survive. How tragic. D.L. did a great job with telling Thomas' story. I felt the love and pain that Thomas' early family brought. I felt him becoming two people and watched as he changed to his family and those around him into a monster. I felt the coldness of his marriage. This Tudor book takes a break from the usual Tudor Players and lets us see into the man's life who helped write history. Its a very good book.

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