Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Great Matter.

by Danielle Marchant

Tourmens de Mariage is Part 2 of The Lady Rochford Saga, focussing on the life of Jane Boleyn. One of the relationships that is focussed upon in Part 2 is that between Jane and her Queen, Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine of Aragon
As I wrote Part 2, it began to gradually occur to me how unique and testing this relationship was. Catherine was the first Queen that Jane had served, and I do believe that she felt some loyalty to both her and her daughter Mary. This loyalty even appeared to continue up to 1535, long after Henry VIII had divorced her, when apparently Jane was seen protesting for Mary in London. However, whether Jane had been present there or not is still an area of debate.

However, even if she felt loyalty to Catherine and Mary, Jane was still a “Boleyn”; George married Jane around 1524/5 after all, and she had to appear loyal to their cause. In spite of this though, I don’t believe this would have prevented Jane from feeling some empathy towards Catherine. Like Catherine, Jane also appeared to have problems with conceiving an heir. There are no records of still births, or miscarriages as of yet, but we do know that Jane and George did not have children. Having a child to carry on the family line would have been part of Jane’s duty, and like her Queen who failed to have a son, Jane too probably felt that she had failed in her role, and Jane’s experience of this is explored in Part 2.

Like many women in England, I believe that Jane would have feared for her own marriage. If the King could put aside Catherine due to lack of male heirs, Jane probably feared if George could do the same to her. So, she would have sympathised with Catherine and even possibly resented Anne Boleyn for what she was doing.

Likely Jane Boleyn
Another common ground that Jane and Catherine shared was their religion. Both were Catholics, whereas Anne and George Boleyn were Evangelical. One thing I have explored in Part 2 is the possibility that even though Jane was close to both George and Anne, she probably was also uncomfortable with their beliefs. We take for granted that up to this point, England was Catholic and prayers were said in Latin, while in the background in Europe there were a growing number of people wanting to translate the Bible into their own language. To people like Jane in this time, this change in thought and attitude may have seemed frightening. Therefore, as Catherine was very much committed to the Catholic faith, Jane probably felt more comfortable with having Catherine as a Queen as opposed to Anne.

As Henry VIII’s love for Anne Boleyn grew, I believe that Jane is torn between loyalties – to her Queen and to her husband’s family. There is a point in Part 2, where she is confronted on this by Anne openly – it’s either Catherine or them. Jane, however, is a woman in the 16th century; her choices have been dictated by her parents and her husband’s family. She doesn’t have a say in the matter. Therefore, I do think that Catherine would have known this all too well, sympathised with Jane and would not have held it against her if she did choose to stay loyal to the Boleyns. For Jane, this was the inevitable. So, indeed being torn between loyalty to the Queen and loyalty to the Boleyns was Jane’s “Great Matter”.

Sources and suggested reading:

Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford – Julia Fox, Phoenix, 2007.

Catherine of Aragon – Henry’s Spanish Queen – Giles Tremlett, Faber and Faber Ltd, 2011.

Images – Catherine of Aragon, by Lucas Horenbout and “The Lady Parker” by Hans Holbein, a sketch believed to be that of Jane Boleyn.

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By Danielle Marchant

I am an Independent Author from London, UK. I published my first historical novella The Lady Rochford Saga Part 1: Into the Ranks of the Deceived in October 2013. The Lady Rochford Saga Part 2: Tourmens de Mariage will be released on the 19th May 2015 and is now available to pre-order: Amazon
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