God, The King & Fortune – Kalene Osborne [short story]

First and foremost I’d like to start this post by apologizing to Kalene! This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but with my wild weekend at work I dropped the ball. I have no excuse, but shout out to her for touching base with me! Ok, now we are all to be transported back to February 18th. Deal? Deal.

A word from Kalene,

The life story of Margaret Pole has always struck me as so tragic. I have also always been intrigued by the life of her father George. I have often pondered about what Margaret thought of her father and what it would have been like to grow up with his shadow of treason hanging over her. As someone who grew up very Catholic and also someone whose father died when I was a young girl, I started to wonder if maybe Margaret felt some of the same things I’ve felt as I matured and I kind of ran with that. The date of George’s execution happens to also be the date of my own father’s death so it’s always stuck in my mind. As I started writing, I started thinking about other father/ daughter relations from the Tudor court and that brought me to Mary and Henry. It all kind of came together after that. Hope you enjoy my story! 🙂 

God, The King & Fortune
A Short Story by Kalene Osborne
For: A Tudor Writing Circle

Author’s Notes:
*On this date, February 18 th , in 1478, George, 1 st Duke of Clarence was executed for treason.
**On this date in 1516, Mary I was born.

Historical People of Importance Referred To In This Story:
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
Mary I
Edward IV
Elizabeth Woodville
Edward V
Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York
George, 1 st Duke of Clarence
Isabel Neville
Richard III
Anne Neville
Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick
Henry VII
Elizabeth of York
Henry VIII
Catherine of Aragon
Anne Bolelyn
Richard of York, 3 rd Duke of York
Richard of Conisburgh, 3 rd Earl of Cambridge
Eleanor Talbot, Lady Butler
Ankarette Twynyho
Sir Richard Pole
Baby Richard of York (Stillborn child of George and Isabel)

February 18th, 1533

The Princess Mary is sitting quietly on a chair, that’s not nearly as regal as she deserves, in the corner of her bedchamber. With her face turned to the stained-glass window, the sun is glistening through. It is illuminating the single tear dribbling down the right side of her cheek. She straightens her back, clenches her jaw, and pulls her focus back to her needlework. She is too proud to ever truly lose her composure, a trait surely inherited from the long line of powerful women she comes from. Her ladies-in-waiting are strutting through the room all aflutter at the day’s preparations. They are too overcome with anxiety and excitement to notice their mistress’ melancholy state. All excluding the Countess Margaret, of course.

The young Princess shifts her direction to Margaret. The Countess then returns the look with a slight smile of encouragement and recognition. This should be a day of celebration in honour of the Princess’ seventeenth anniversary of the day of her birth. However, it is turning into a solemn time for reflection. There is a rumour throughout the kingdom that the King’s concubine is with child and that Henry is sure to marry her, if he has not done so already in private. Poor, innocent Mary, Margaret thinks to herself. Still yet a child, forbidden to see her mother and her father casting her away. Some even say he will have her declared illegitimate. Mary, a bastard, what a terrible, wretched thing to ever be called, even when there is truth to it, but in Mary’s case of course there is not!

Margaret is all too familiar with how toxic and dangerous talk of secret marriages or illegitimacy can be. There is another significance to this day for Margaret, one that everyone has forgotten save for her, deep in her heart. It was on this day in 1478, her own father had been executed for treason. He was drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine, of all the dreadful ways someone can die. They say it was his wish, though Margaret doubts it. Sure, the man loved the drink. Margaret can still recall the stale stench of it on his breath, when each night she’d lean in to kiss his stubbled cheek before sleep, but to have a humiliating downfall such as that…no, that is something her father would never have wished upon his worst enemy, of this Margaret is sure. The fool’s death so they say, for the ever-conniving Clarence. Margaret has other ideas as to who’s to blame for that style of punishment. The Woodville wench, a term Margaret despises but, in this case, absolutely applies. She wags her serpent tongue in the king’s ear casting all sorts of wicked witchy spells no doubt. Margaret wonders if the lady Anne with her Bolelyn beauty has the same magic effect on the current king. Yes, it must, she asserts herself. What else could cause a mere mortal man to stray so far from the guarantee of peaceful heaven. The wrong woman’s whimsical words, dancing the idea of heresy straight into the political realm. If only Edward had remained loyal to Eleanor or Henry to Catherine, how the world would be a different place now Margaret thinks.

Whether the claims her father made against the birth of her uncle King Edward, the marriage of her aunt Elizabeth or the murderous plots of a maiden in her childhood household Ankarette Twynyho are true or not, it is these very daunting words that brought about the end of the mighty Plantagenets and the bold White Rose of York. Her father wasn’t a clever man, or brave, nor really a good one either, but she loved him and knows she always will. Her mother had died not long before him when Margaret was but a wee tiny girl. The whole family mourned her incredibly, along with the stillborn baby brother that caused her death. In truth, her father had gone mad with grief over the loss of his dear partner Isabel, the kind of true love Margaret sadly would never know for herself. Don’t get her wrong, Margaret had loved her husband, yes, but not in the passionate, romantic way her father had loved her mother. Only people who have witnessed someone grappling with the dark, twisted rabbit hole of grief can understand what a loss that painful can do to a person. So, it was to the excesses of alcohol and a dangerous blame game her father had slipped into.

It’s a tragic story. One that will forever go down in history as the deserved ending to a treacherous house. Margaret too well knows that history is forever written by the victor. But who could really blame her father? No, he wasn’t perfect, far from it, but the tumultuous life he came from and the pressure from having his father and grand-father’s blood in him drove him to strive for the top, to reach for the unattainable heights. He wanted what he believed was his by right, a notion ingrained in him since birth. But now, only a blood curse, a sinful cloud of betrayal hangs over Margaret. A crime she will surely pay for one day, the last of her York house, for the rebellions of her father, grand-father and great-grandfather before her. All who died a traitor’s death. So, Margaret awaits, one day knowing the same fate will befall her. Why shouldn’t it? As much as she would like to think that she’s different from everyone else in her family, she is well aware it doesn’t mean she’s any better than they were.

At the very inception of the idea of illegitimacy, a nation can be swept into chaotic, unmerited, violence and uncertainty. In addition to the memories Margaret has of her parents, there are also those gruesome images that swarm her mind of her other long-lost relatives as well. Dropping like flies one after the other, death from illness, battle, betrayal or simply because of the blood that ran in their veins. Despite herself, against her better judgement, she misses them. She longs for them to be walking this very earth right along beside her. A slow, leisurely stroll through the gardens with them would be nice she thinks. She reminisces about her sweet, simple brother Edward, another slaughter by the tyrannical Tudor regime. He didn’t need to die. Well, none of her family did, she catches herself realizing. Not even her uncle King Richard, his reign wrongly blackened by the terrible Tudor tales.

But then, those were all generations ago, another land and time in the eyes of her peers today. She snaps herself back to reality, to the quaint, small room of the Princess Mary and her birth date sorrows. She shuffles closer, bringing herself next to the young woman. She crouches down beside her. Warmly, she strokes her auburn-reddish hair, the reassuring touch of a mother. A touch that Mary will probably never know again and one that Margaret was denied from a youthful age herself.

Mary turns around to face Margaret. Holding back a flood of tears, she asks “why is the King treating my mother like so? What will become of her?” Margaret, hesitant to reply, knows there is only one answer to this and it’s not one that Mary should like to hear. But Mary is strong, like her mother, like herself and lying will do no good in this instance. “It’s a cruel world when God, the King and fortune are no longer on your side my dear”. That’s the only truth Margaret believes in anymore. Harsh as it may be, the wheels will continue to turn and maybe one day they will shine brightly on Mary once again. Margaret wonders if the Princess has the same evil streak of madness in her that her father is seeming to embody. Mary stares sternly back at the Countess, a glimmer of pure satanical anger passing over her young eyes and all of a sudden Margaret doesn’t doubt the bloodshed this woman could cause. She hopes against it, will pray it never comes to fruition later during her next prayer session with the one true God. Mary, without an ounce of emotion in her tone states “I hate him”.

In her teenage angst Mary, no doubt believes that in this moment. Margaret however, is too wise to know that isn’t true. She grabs the Princess’ hand and holds it tightly in an attempt at sending a surge of strength to the girl. Mary turns her head back to the window. Lost in a world of abominable reflection. Margaret, deep in her own thought knows that between these two women, together in this moment, right here and now, nothing in this world, not a single demand, mistake, law, nor reformation, not even when everything they do merits against it, could take the love they have away from the two most important men in eternity.

The one true Almighty God and their fathers.

I'm a lover of all things Tudor, and historical - fiction or fact. My aim is to bring together writers of all calibers to share their work with like minded people!

One thought on “God, The King & Fortune – Kalene Osborne [short story]

  1. The rather tragic life of Margaret Pole is often overlooked, with the Tudor royal family receiving more attention in the history books than those who surrounded them. Kalene, I can see the interest Margaret holds for you. Sharing some important life experiences makes it much easier to empathise with a person, whether from history or the present day.

    I found the list of important people – the dramatis personae – very helpful and did refer to it as your story unfolded. Mary Tudor had her own dilemma and Margaret was the only one who noticed her demeanour that day and sympathised with the young princess and the situation she was forced into by her father, while foreseeing something of the future should Queen Mary I ever be crowned. Meanwhile, her own heartache and the reminder of the anniversary of her father’s execution, and the rather unconventional manner of it, still weighed heavily on her and I think you expressed her thoughts with much feeling and realism.

    I look forward to reading more of your Plantagenet/Tudor writing in the future.

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