Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. High mass was spectacular, and Stephen Gardiner’s homily was perfect — a wonderful testament to Our Holy Father. Born from the rock of St. Peter, the Pope is master and teacher of all who worship in our Holy Roman Catholic Church, God’s true religion. As Alice and Margaret prepare our Sunday feast, I pray… for forgiveness of my sins, insight into God’s will so it may be done, His Majesty’s health, happiness and wisdom, and for guidance. My rosary in hand, I drop to my knees before the altar in my prayer room and gaze upon the guilded statue of our Virgin Mary. Saintly in her aura which bounds throughout the room, I seek her intercession.
I cross myself and kiss my rosary beads.”Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; bleesed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Hail Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death…. Lord, have mercy on us; Christ, have mercy on us; Lord, have mercy on us; Christ, hear us; graciously hear us; God the Father of heaven; Have mercy on us; God the Son, redeemer of the world; Have mercy on us; God the Holy Spirit; Have mercy on us; Holy Trinity, one God; Have mercy on us; Holy Mary; Holy mother of God; Holy Virgin of virgins; Mother of Christ; Mother of the Church; Mother of divine grace; Mother most pure; Mother most chaste; Mother inviolate; Mother undefiled; Mother immaculate; Mother most amiable; Mother most admirable; Mother of good counsel; Mother of our Creator; Mother of our Savior; Virgin most prudent; Virgin most venerable; Virgin most renowned; Virgin most powerful; Virgin most merciful; Virgin most faithful; Mirror of justice; Seat of wisdom; Cause of our joy; Spiritual vessel; Vessel of honor; Singular vessel of devotion; Mystical rose; Tower of David; Tower of ivory; House of gold; Ark of the covenant; Gate of heaven; Morning star; Health of the sick; Refuge of sinners; Comforter of the afflicted; Help of Christians; Queen of angels; Queen of patriarchs; Queen of prophets; Queen of apostles; Queen of martyrs; Queen of confessors; Queen of virgins; Queen of all saints; Queen conceived without original sin; Queen assumed into heaven; Queen of the most holy Rosary; Queen of the families; Queen of peace; Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.; Spare us, O Lord; Have mercy on us. We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God. Despice not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech you,mine, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ, your Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. AMEM.”
I cross myself, kiss my rosary beads, and lay them down upon the altar. As I gaze upon the gilded statue of our Queen of the Holy See, her message comes clear, my prayer for guidance answered. I listen intently as she speaks… “Thomas, as you so prayed, I am the Queen you worship. I am the Queen who reigns supreme in your heart and the heart of the faithful. Make no venture into the celebration of the heretics. Bend no knee to the Queen of Satan, concubine of evil, consort to the King of men. Be strong, and God will reward you when you arrive at the Gates of St. Peter. A saint on earth, may God bless you as a Saint in heaven.” In tears, I hear her wisdom. May I earn her pride in the actions I now take. I scurry to my desk, and begin writing.
“To His Majesty’s Faithful Secretary, Thomas Cromwell, ….It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that I am unable to attend the coronation and consequent celebrations of Queen Anne, His Majesty’s consort and wife. Please be assured that I will spend the time in prayerful reflection, pleading saintly intercessions on behalf of His Majesty so he may continue to reign this realm in wisdom, benevolence and grace, as he has done since crowned. I pray you give him wise council. ~~ With Respectful Salutations, His Majesty’s Most Faithful Servant, Sir Thomas More”
There. God’s will be done. Virgin Mary, Mother of God, please give me the strength to endure all worldly consequences.
Saturday evening at Chelsea, a time usually spend with family. Instead, I await the arrival of the Arch Bishop of Canterbury. This man, a mere clerk from Cambridge the Boleyns so wholeheartedly patronized, holds Henry close, counsels our sovereign as a spiritual adviser. Canterbury, along with his allies in all, Cromwell and Audley, aim to “reform” the Church of England, but in truth they are nothing but heathen Lutherans. I know his agenda, Canterbury. Like Cromwell and the Bishops His Majesty has already sent my way, he wants me to take the oaths of succession and supremacy. Heaven help us. Although I have no regard for the new Queen, I dispute her title not. The supremacy, however, I will never abide by. The Roman Catholic faith is led by His Holy Father, descended from the rock of Saint Peter. Oh Holy Virgin Mother, blessed among women, give me strength so I do not waver over the difficult days ahead.
Alice More: As I enter the study, I see my dear husband sitting by the fire, deep in thought. I walk quietly up to him, place my hand on his shoulder and state simply, “The Arch Bishop is here, Thomas. His barge just arrived at the dock.” He looks up at me, his eyes hollow. “Be careful what you say, Thomas.”
Thomas More: “Do not fret, dear wife. I will say nothing on the matter. In English law, saying nothing infers consent. I will use this as a the way to hold steadfast to the true religion while keeping us safe.”
Alice More: “I fear English law will not matter, my love. Cromwell will just change it to serve his evil purposes. A stroke of his pen and all is lost, not just for you, but for all of us.”
Thomas More: I rise and kiss my wife on the cheek. In truth I never loved this woman, but she is a good and loyal wife and a wonderful mother. Secretly, I fear my wife is right, but there is no need to admit such. “Shhhhhh… fret not, dear. Cromwell is not king of this realm, as much as he may think so.”
Thomas Cranmer: Why did I agree to do this? Dearest Thomas tried to coax him, as did two of my most learned bishops. The man’s mind is set. The Lord Chancellor fears His Majesty will throw More in The Tower, where Bishop Fisher now sits, if I am unsuccessful. The people love More, respect his opinions and loyalty to the crown. This we need not, so here I am, stepping from my barge onto the dock at Chelsea. As one of More’s servants leads me to his estate, I look around the gardens. Dearest Thomas is right… a most bizarre collection of animals frolic freely. To what purposes is this? Does the man plan to rebuild Noah’s arc? Send these creatures through the English Channel two by two? I point over to a creature, and ask the servant… “What in heavens name is that good man?” He looks at me and smiles. “Why that would be a ferret, Your Grace.” I shake my head in disbelief. With hungry mouths throughout this kingdom, this man feeds “ferrets”. God forgive him. He is but a barrister.
Thomas More: I stand by my sitting room window and watch on as His Grace approaches. He does not seem duly impressed with my menagerie. Too bad, t’is my hobby, and whether he likes it or not I do not care to bother. So here he is, Queen Anne’s man, the Boleyn installed Arch Bishop, the man who befriends the likes of Lutheran minded politicians that he then sets loose to do his dirt work. Though his hands are clean, his soul is not. As he is allowed entry to my home, I take a long deep breath and await his announcement. “Sir Thomas, I present the Arch Bishop of Canterbury.” As Canterbury steps forward, I bow politely. “Welcome to Chelsea, Your Grace. Please do sit by the fire. My wife Alice will bring us some wine.” I look over at Alice and nod.
Thomas Cranmer: Oh my, the portrait. It’s more gaudy and huge than even Dearest Thomas did describe. “Thank you for your gracious hospitality and for agreeing to meet with me, Sir Thomas.” I look over to his wife, lowered to the likes of maid servant by the looks of it. “And thank you, as well, Lady Alice. Wine by the fire would be most welcome to take off this January winter chill.” I sit down as invited, and More takes a seat across from me. I look upon his mantle. A false idol of the Virgin Mary stares upon me. I look away before my discontent is obvious.
Thomas More: I gaze upon Canterbury, and speaking hospitably but also directly. “Your Grace, to what do I owe this pleasure? His Majesty sent his dutiful secretary and two of your most learned bishops to call on me. Did he send you, as well?”
Thomas Cranmer: More’s wife pours me a goblet of wine, and hands it to me graciously. “Why thank you, Lady Alice. You are most kind.” I take a sip of this most bitter blend and reply matter-of-factly. “No, Sir Thomas. His Majesty no longer asserts himself in such matters. I was sent to you at the bequest of the Vicar General.” I smile broadly, as I know this will peak his curiosity.
Thomas More: “What is and who is a Vicar General? This is a new office, then?” I feel I know where this is going, and God help us, God help England.
Thomas Cranmer: I hold his gaze and smile. “Why, yes Sir Thomas… a new office, and a quite important one. The Vicar General is responsible for the oversight of church doctrine, and ‘with authority to undertake, by himself or his agents, a general visitation of churches, monasteries, and clergy’, and to bring them into line with the new order. Our Vicar General of spirituals is His Majesty’s Chief Secretary, of course. Whom else would it be?”
Thomas More: I look incredulous, I’m sure. “A layman in charge of church doctrine?”
Thomas Cranmer: I swallow hard and compose my thoughts upon hearing his flip response. ”Any man of knowledge can read and understand the scriptures, Sir Thomas. Surely you know that by now.” I drink some more wine and add, “The Vicar General would have visited you himself, but for some reason he believes you think of him as Satan himself.”
Thomas More: I answer carefully, refusing to address Cromwell with the most recent of his accumulating titles. ”Chief Secretary Cromwell works diligently and exhaustively for His Majesty’s interests, I know.” I then add… “And this reminds me of the old Greek fable I so desire you and the Chief Minster to be wary of as you carry out your duties, as I pray you give His Majesty good counsel… ”A wolf once decided to change his nature by changing his appearance, and thus get plenty to eat. He put on a sheepskin and accompanied the flock to the pasture. The shepherd was fooled by the disguise. When night fell, the shepherd shut up the wolf in the fold with the rest of the sheep and as the fence was placed across the entrance, the sheepfold was securely closed off. But when the shepherd wanted a sheep for his supper, he took his knife and killed the wolf.’ You tread in dangerous waters, Your Grace. Do be careful. I wish no harm. I say no harm. I think no harm. And I wish no harm to you or Master Crowmell.”
Thomas Cranmer: Did the man just say His Majesty will turn on Thomas and me? I look back and quickly retort, ”Or as is true of papal authority, Sir Thomas, scripture teaches us ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’” He looks surprised at my response. Does he think me daft? I add most sincerely, “Sir Thomas… I strongly advise you take the oath as His Majesty so desires. I need not tell you Bishop Fisher is already imprisoned in The Tower. And I wish no harm to you.” As he readies to reply, I hold up my hand to stop him, and with an appeal to his senses add, “Sir Thomas. The scriptures of the Old Testament are clear on this. Kings David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah all ruled over the secular and ecclesiastical. The royal supremacy is clear in the Lord’s Holy Word, and in scripture you will find no mention of a pope. Do see the truth in this, and take the oath.”
Thomas More: I take in a deep breath, feeling dirty from the heretical words he just did speak. I respond most carefully. “I appreciate your spiritual guidance, Your Grace. I freely make no quarrel with the Queen’s right to accession, nor the rights of her and His Majesty’s begotten to reign true, but I choose not to take the oath of supremacy.” I add most directly in a composed tone, “In fact, I choose to speak nothing of it at all.”
Thomas Cranmer: Heavens, dearest Thomas is right. This man seeks self-serving martyrdom. I hold up my goblet in toast, “Spoken like a true barrister, Sir Thomas. Touche.” I look over at the huge Holbein, so gaudy and ostentatious… “Is that your lovely family so depicted with you, Sir Thomas?” He nods. “I do pray you think of them and reconsider.”
Thomas More: “I will corrupt my soul not, Your Grace. I will not take the oath, and I choose to speak nothing more of it one way or the other.”
Thomas Cranmer: “As you wish.” As I rise, he does also and we bow politely. “Thank you for your welcoming hospitality, Sir Thomas. I must take my leave now as duties at Lambeth await. Good evening, sir.”
Thomas More: “Good evening and may God be with you, Your Grace.” As he leaves, I swallow hard and thank the Virgin Mary, Mother of God for her graceful intercession. I held firm, but as I look down I see my hands tremble slightly. My arrest in now imminent, His Grace so did warn me. I walk slowly over to my prayer alter, grab hold of my emerald rosary beads, and drop to me knees in prayer.
“… Give me O Lord, I pray Thee
firm faith, unwavering hope
Pour into my heart
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding
the Spirit of counsel and spiritual strength
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness
and the Spirit of Thy holy fear
Light eternal, shine in my heart
Power eternal, deliver me from evil
Wisdom eternal, scatter the darkness of my ignorance
Might eternal, pity me
Grant that I may ever seek Thy face
with all my heart and soul and strength;
and, in thine infinite mercy,
bring me at last to Thy holy presence
where I shall behold Thy glory
and possess Thy promised joys…”
Thomas Cromwell: (I am awaiting Sir Thomas More’s arrival to meet with His Majesty. Once that is done and over with, I will keep my promise to Nicoleen and resign the King’s service.)
(Watch You Tube before reading below… I promise, it’s worth it.)
Henry Tudor: *I sit on my throne speaking with Thomas Cromwell of our success. The Clergy has submitted to me. I then hear a guard announce Sir Thomas More. *He enters* “Sir Thomas” *I say with a peaceful heart mind.*
Thomas Cromwell: (The asshole walks by me…. I wish I could trip him.)
Thomas More: ~I enter the throne room with one thought in mind, I resign this day. I am full disbelief that the clergymen have taken the information this donkey Thomas Cromwell has fed them. I see my King. His eyes are peaceful, With a heavy heart, Ibow~ “Your majesty” ~I then kneel at the feet of his throne~ “I come to offer my resignation from my post as Lord Chancellor” ~As I say these words I feel that bastards presence in the room. It is as if the devil himself is breathing skaata in this room.~ I beg you my King to allow me refuge away from court so that I may ready my mind for the Lord, his work and my family. You see I have found the great seal a weight that I can no longer bare. I have it here.” ~holds the seal up and meets his majesties eyes.~ “In the most humble of hopes that you will accept its return.” ~Give it to that Jackass behind me PLEASE!!! DAMN , here he comes~
Thomas Cromwell: (I instantly recognize a major problem…. Oh My God… That man is determined to ruin my life…. As the King nods my way, I walk up to the bastard, and glare right through the dog. I accept the great seal for safe keeping, and return to the back of the room…. irate, but composed.)
Henry Tudor: *I have seen this coming. I knew Thomas More would not be pleased with this. After Thomas Cromwell takes the seal, I glare at him*
Thomas More: ~I meet Thomas Cromwell’s eyes and glare at the devil. Please Dear father God do not let him touch me. He takes the seal. Phew, I escaped the evil bastards touch.~
Thomas Cromwell: ( I wish I could shove the seal up his ass.)
Henry Tudor: ”I most willing allow you to resign. Retreat to your life with God. You have always been a gentleman both in public and private. You have held your loyalty to me first most. You have been a good friend to me Sir Thomas More” *
Thomas Cromwell: (His Majesty is too kind…. He should send the dickhead to the tower. How dare he do this? Now?)
Thomas More: ”Your Majesty, I swear on my honor that I will never speak publicly of your great matter. I must unburden my heart one time only. ~And like this jackass in the room hear it all!~ After I say this I swear to never speak of it again, public or private. As your once truest confidant” ~UNLIKE THE DEVIL BEHIND ME! PLEASE READ BETWEEN THE LINES MAJESTY! I pause for a response from my King~ ” may I continue your majesty?”
Henry Tudor: *Motions my hand and nods for him to go on………If he mentions Catherine…..begins to feel the rage rising!*
Thomas Cromwell: (Holy Shit. Don’t tell me he is going to actually spew to His Majesty about his love and devotion to the Dowager. Shoot me dead now.)
Thomas More: ”I am of the deepest belief that if your Majesty could reconcile with Queen Catherine, the realm could be mended and healed. The division within the realm would have cause to come together again.”
Thomas Cromwell: (stifles a laugh)
Henry Tudor: *Did he really just call HER THE FUCKING QUEEN?*
Thomas Cromwell: (Did he really just call HER THE FUCKING QUEEN?)
Thomas More: ”Now that I have said this, I will never mention it again My King.” ~Begins to retreat backwards, Thank God I will not have to look Satan in the eye.~
Thomas Cromwell: (Oh My God. This man has a death wish.)
Henry Tudor: ”Thomas, you will honor that promise for if you ever” *ponds my fist on the arm of my throne* “make a public mention of you feelings, there will be a price you my friend will pay.*
Thomas Cromwell: (Go ahead, More…. say it again. Do it.)
Thomas More: *Nods and retreats, damn there is Satan, shivers, that man should be set a fire*
Henry Tudor: *feelings of dispare overwhelm me. Saddens me. I look to Thomas Cromwell and notice he seems to be feeling the same way* Thomas, what are your thoughts?
Thomas Cromwell: “Well, Your Majesty…. I know you trust Sir Thomas, but there are many capable men who could step in and be Lord Chancellor and Chief Minister… Sir Thomas Audley, for example. Or even Sir Richard Rich. In fact, anyone could be replaced. Sir Richard could do my job quite capably too for that matter.
Henry Tudor: “Yes, I have in mind the man for the job. And as for you Thomas Cromwell, I will need you to head Chair of committee to oversee the canons of the Church of England. There is no other man for the job. Your works for the submission of clergy has earned you this position. I proudly bestow it upon you.”
Henry Tudor: ”I also will bestow another title of most honor to you for indeed you have most honorable earned it ” *My heart is still so heavy oh Thomas More,* “You are know Chief Minister of England” *I smile as this has lifted my heart*
Thomas Cromwell: (Holy Shit… now what? Damn. Face shows stunned look, there’s no hiding it.) “Your Majesty, your benevolence and confidence in me is a great honor and I am very touched, but I could not possibly….”
Henry Tudor: ”SILENCE! You will not pretend to be humble and act that you not wish for these graces I have given you.”
Thomas Cromwell: ”Yes, Your Majesty. I am most honoured. Thank you. I pray to never fail your trust in me.” (bows) (How am I supposed to explain this to Nicoleen?)