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in years, he was already a man. He attended closely to his studies; he watched, with the precocity of one whose mind has developed at the expense of the body, the details of public business; he never broke out into any of the escapades of youth, and severely took his attendants to task if they failed to follow his rigid example; he was always taciturn and absorbed in thought, and his reflections were seldom occupied with matters which did not tend to advance his own interests. At the age of fifteen, it is said, he was his own prime minister, and got out of bed at midnight to reply to the despatches of his ambassadors. Neither the Prince nor those who advised him were inclined to hasten the marriage. Charles was already of the age required, but it was not considered advisable, owing to his feeble constitution, for him to enter at present into the state of matrimony. His council, fearful that their authority would be undermined by the alliance with England, did all in their power to fence off the evil day. Both Maximilian and Ferdinand were doubtful as to the wisdom of the engagement with Mary; they had recently entered into a secret alliance with France, and one of the articles of the new treaty was the union of the Prince of Castile with a French princess; hence, not being off with the old love before they were on with the new, they pursued a course vacillating and disingenuous. Wolsey, with his eyes intent upon events across the Channel, was of opinion that the interests of England could be better served than by a union with the Low Countries. The handsome Mary was consoling herself at Windsor for all this postponement by flirting with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the most splendid subject of his day; whilst the boy-prince was far more occupied with his dreams of future power and wealth, than with the English beauty to whom his hand had been pledged. Henry VIII. was the only one anxious to see the contract fulfilled.
And now, whilst delays and excuses were waiting upon this illstarred betrothal, an event occurred which was to turn the current of the past intrigues into another channel. Louis XII. of France became a widower, and scarcely had the body of Anne of Britanny been consigned to the tomb, than Wolsey was busy with his schemes for effecting an alliance between England and France. Negotiations were entered into between the astute prelate and the Duke of Longueville, who, since his captivity in England, after the Battle of Spurs, had lived much in the society of the Court, and had written to his master in glowing terms of the beauty of Mary. The matter was kept, on its first being broached, a profound secret. Henry gave his assent to the scheme. Lewis, though old enough to be Mary's father, was charmed with all he had heard of the princess, and soon became a far more ardent lover than the calculating boy of Castile. Le bon vielliard,' writes a correspondent to Margaret of Savoy, with the coarse frankness of his age, 'veult avoir la jeune garce, pour essayer s'il pourra encoires avoir ung fils.' Whether pressure was put upon
Mary to obtain her consent to the claims of this new suitor we know not. She may have thought that between a sickly boy of fourteen and a feeble man of fifty there was little to choose; what however chiefly induced her to accept the hand of the more elderly of her two lovers was the promise made to her by Henry, that if she would only comply with his wishes in this instance, on the next occasion of the kind she should be at liberty to act as she pleased. From what afterwards transpired, there can be no doubt that Mary at this time was deeply enamoured of the handsome Suffolk, and since she must bestow her hand either upon Charles or Lewis, the most welcome husband was the one from whom she would the most speedily be released. The Prince of Spain, though a delicate lad, might yet continue to live many years; whilst Lewis, ill and worn out, could not be expected to remain much longer upon the throne. Accordingly Mary listened to the wishes of her brother, and agreed to become Queen of France. She wrote politely to Lewis that for the honour which it has pleased you to do to me, I hold myself ever indebted and obliged to you, and thank you as cordially as I can,' and that she had the very singular desire' to see him and to be in his company. At the royal manor of Wanstead, in the presence of a large company, she signed a public declaration of her engagement to the most Christian King, and appointed Charles, Earl of Worcester, to act as her proxy in France. She was conducted across the Channel by a splendid retinue, and met Lewis at Abbeville. The marriage took place early in October, and the beauty of the young Queen—a beauty, as Peter Martyr remarks, without the adventitious aids of art-soon won the hearts of her new subjects.
Noble dame, bien soit venue en France:
The alliance dazzled all Europe, and it seemed as if the policy of Wolsey were to be crowned with success. The most cordial feelings subsisted between the two nations-Englishmen crowded the reception rooms at Versailles, Frenchmen were made welcome at Windsor and Whitehall; the once rival monarchs were now bosom friends, and there was nothing that Lewis would decline to perform for his 'deare brother.' From a second-rate kingdom under the dictation of Ferdinand of Aragon, England had at once risen to the highest rank in the family of nations. The vanity of the hour had silenced the dictates of the heart, and Mary, not yet accustomed to the lofty station of a queen, was an amused observer at tournaments and pageants, delighting in wearing her magnificent jewellery and her gowns after the French fashion,' her gowns after Milan fashion,' her gowns after the English fashion;' her bonnets, esquillettes, and manteaux and hoods. All was bright and and merry prosperous; only for a brief period. Then the end came, and the schemes that
man had planned were dashed to the ground, at the very moment when the blossom was so full of promise. Lewis, after a brief period of some eighty days' domestic felicity, was suddenly called to his rest, and the English alliance was at an end.
A new order of things was ushered in. Instead of the valetudinarian Lewis, there was now seated on the throne of France a young ambitious sovereign, eager for conquest and ready to plunge all Europe into war. England had much to fear. She had made an enemy of Francis of Valois by imperilling his succession through the marriage between Mary and Lewis. She had offended Prince Charles by cavalierly repudiating his betrothal. She had been intriguing against Ferdinand to obtain Castile. The old Emperor was still her ally, but Maximilian was ever ready to sell himself to those who paid him best, and could not be trusted. 'War,' writes Mr. Brewer,1' glomed in all directions and in all forms. Who was to ride the storm and
manage the elements? That was the question which every man asked, and each one answered in his own way. And yet it might have been so different! Had Lewis but lived a little longer, had his widow but given birth to a son, had the designs of man not been foiled by the will of God, the policy of Wolsey might have been, instead of the triumph of an hour, one so lasting and enduring as to be inseparable from the annals of French history. To indulge in vain regrets was, however, now useless. The first step to be taken was to congratulate the French King on his accession, and to humour him, so that he might deal handsomely with the young Queen-Dowager. At the head of an imposing embassy the Duke of Suffolk was introduced to Francis at Noyon. His reception was most cordial. Francis inquired affectionately after the health of Henry and Catharine, and expressed his gratification at this renewal of the friendship between the two countries. According to the tedious etiquette on such occasions, West, afterwards Bishop of Ely, delivered a long Latin oration on the virtues and qualities of a good ruler, and concluded with the hope that the future conduct of the King of France would be in harmony with the promises he had made when Duke of Angoulême. In reply Francis thanked the deputation for their good wishes, and alluded in becoming terms to the death of his predecessor. They had good reason to be sorry, he said with courteous hypocrisy, 'forasmuch as the late King had married the Princess Mary, of which marriage he was a great cause, trusting that it should have long endured.' In the name of his master Suffolk then thanked the King for the kindness he had shown to Mary during the sad time of her bereavement, calling to his mind how lovingly he had written to Henry by his last letters, that he would neither do her wrong, nor suffer her to take wrong of any other person; but be to her as a loving son should be to his mother.' Francis answered that 'he
1 State Papers. Henry VIII.-1515-1518. Edited by the Rev. J. S. Brewer. Preface.
could do no less for his honour, seeing that she was Henry's sister, a noble princess married to his predecessor,' and he hoped that she would write to England how lovingly he had behaved to her.'
With mutual compliments the public audience ended; all had passed smoothly, and beneath the formal courtesies there was a sincerity for which neither side had been prepared. Shortly after the dismissal of the embassy Francis sent privately for Suffolk. My Lord of Suffolk,' said the King, brusquely, as the Duke entered his bedchamber there is a bruit in this my realm that you are come to marry with the Queen, your master's sister?' Confused at this sudden announcement of his fondest hopes, and mindful of the difficulties that could be thrown across the path of his love, Suffolk stammered forth that the report was unfounded. He begged the King not to imagine for a moment that he would dare to come into a strange realm and there marry a queen without the permission of the sovereign. I assure your Grace,' said he, that I have no such purpose; nor was it ever intended on the King my master's behalf, nor on mine.' Francis, however, soon silenced the protestations of the enamoured Duke. Since you will not be plain with me,' said he to Suffolk, I must be plain with you. Her Majesty herself has informed me of your mutual attachment, and I have promised on my faith and truth and by the troth of a king to do my best to help her.' Then, to prove that he was no stranger to the flirtations of the past, the King smilingly alluded to certain secrets which had passed between the lovers, causing the detected Suffolk to blush crimson. "The which I knew no man alive could tell them but she,' he writes to Wolsey; and when he told them I was abashed, and he saw it and said, "Be not disturbed, for you shall say that you have found a kind friend and a loving; and because you shall think no wrong of her, I give you in your hand my faith and troth, by the word of a king, that I shall never fail her or you; but to help and advance this matter betwixt her and you with as good a will as I would for mine own self." Such generosity at once appealed to the heart of Suffolk. He was loud in his protestations of gratitude, and begged Francis to use his good offices with Henry, for that I was lyke to be undone if the matter schold coume to the knollag of the Kyng me masster,' he writes in his awful spelling. The French King, however, assured the anxious lover that he need have no fears as to the future; that he, his Majesty, would befriend him, and that on their arrival at Paris. the Duke should see the Queen, and then both he, the King, and she would write letters with their own hands to Henry' in the best manner that could be devised.' The Duke was enchanted that the man whom he had considered as the greatest opponent of his suit should have been transformed into his staunchest advocate. I find myself,' he writes thankfully to Wolsey, much bounden to God, considering he that I feared most is contented to be the doer of this act himself.'
That Suffolk was deeply smitten with the charms of Mary was
no secret to her royal brother, for between Henry and the Duke there existed the warmest friendship. From a simple commoner the King had raised Charles Brandon to the highest dignity in the peerage, had made him his constant companion, and had thus excited the jealousy of the Council and the old aristocracy against the favourite. Both men were of the same age, both were captivated by the same tastes, and both excelled in martial exercises. The Duke of Suffolk,' says Giustinian, 'is associated with his Majesty tanquam intelligentiam assistentem orbi, which governs, commands, and acts with authority scarcely inferior to the King himself.' Of the question of marriage between the Duke and his sister, Henry had neither openly approved nor disapproved. He was content to let matters take their course, but by placing no obstacle in the way he seems tacitly to have consented to the union; he was, however, sternly opposed to any steps being taken without his full knowledge. He had promised Mary when she left him at the water side,' that if, to oblige him, she would marry Lewis this time, she should be permitted on the next occasion to do as she list.' If therefore she now ' listed' to marry Suffolk in preference to a more brilliant suitor, he would not actually thwart her inclinations, though he would not as yet decidedly encourage them. Nor had he been displeased at the deferential conduct of the Duke in the matter. Joyous I am as any creature living,' writes Wolsey to Suffolk, whose suit he stoutly furthered at every opportunity,
to hear as well of your honourable entertainment with the French King, and of his loving mind towards you for your marriage with the French Queen, our Master's sister, as also of his kind offer made unto you, that both he and the said French Queen shall effectually write unto the King's grace for the obtaining of his goodwill and favour unto the same. The contents of which your letter I have at good leisure declared unto the King's highness, and his Grace marvellously rejoiced to hear of your good speed in the same, and how substantially and discreetly ye ordered and handled yourself in your words and your communication with the said French King, when he first secretly brake with you of the said marriage. And therefore, my Lord, the King and I think it good that ye procure and solicit the speedy sending unto his Grace of the letters from the said French King, touching this matter. Assuring you that the King continueth firmly in his good mind and purpose towards you, for the accomplishment of the said marriage, albeit that there be daily on every side practices_made to the let of the same, which I have withstanded hitherto, and doubt not so to do till ye shall have achieved your intended purpose; and ye shall say by that time that ye know all that ye have had of me, a fast friend.2
On his arrival at Paris Suffolk at once hastened to the Hotel de Clagny, where Mary was then, according to the etiquette required of a Royal widow of France, mourning her loss, attired in white, and stretched upon a couch in a darkened chamber, illuminated only by
A draft only of this letter is amongst the State Papers; the words in italics are inserted by Wolsey himself.