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Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Lamentation - C.J. Sansom
bookshelves: autumn-2014, published-2014, series, tudor, religion, books-about-books-and-book-shops, mystery-thriller, execution, ipad, bedside
Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Pat
Read from June 26, 2013 to November 22, 2014


** spoiler alert ** Copy of Katherine's text, Lamentations of a Sinner, published in 1547 with her signature.

Description: Autumn, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors prepare for a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government. The Catholics decide to focus their attack on Henry's sixth wife, the Protestant Queen Catherine Parr. As Catherine begins to lose the King's favour, she turns to the shrewd, hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, to contain a potentially fatal secret.
To Roz Brody, Mike Holmes, 
Jan King and William Shaw,
the stalwart writers’ group,
for all their comments and suggestions
for Lamentation
as for the last seven books

Opening: Chapter I: I DID NOT WANT to attend the burning. I have never liked even such things as the bearbaiting, and this was to be the burning alive at the stake of four living people, one a woman, for denying that the body and blood of Christ were present in the Host at Mass. Such was the pitch we had come to in England during the great heresy hunt of 1546.

photo 00000_zps2feb7f57.jpgRichard [hiss! boo!] Rich.

Woodcut of the burning of Anne Askew, for heresy, at Smithfield in 1546

How humane,kind and caring, that gunpowder around the neck.

Chapter II: AS SOON AS IT WAS OVER, I rode away with Coleswyn. The three men at the stakes had taken longer than Anne Askew to die. They had been chained standing rather than sitting and it was another half-hour before the flames reached the bag of gunpowder round the last man’s neck. I had shut my eyes for much of the time; if only I could have shut my ears.

Bishop Gardiner, the Puffed-up Porkling of the Pope.’

Chapter III: IT WAS PAST SIX when I returned home. My friend Guy was due for dinner at seven – a late meal, but like me he worked a long day. As usual, Martin had heard me enter and was waiting in the hall to take my robe and cap. I decided to go into the garden to enjoy a little of the evening air. I had recently had a small pavilion and some chairs set at the end of the garden, where I could sit and look over the flower beds.
'...slices of fresh salmon from the Thames'

William Cecil

Chapter IV: I HAD TO SIT DOWN. I went to the chair behind my desk, motioning Cecil to a seat in front. I had brought in a candle, and I set it on the table between us. It illuminated the young man’s face, the shadows emphasizing the line of three little moles on his right cheek.

Who list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

*These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

Thomas Wyatt[Written after his own incarceration in the Tower of London in 1536
circ regna tonat = around the throne thunder rolls]

The Family of Henry VIII, c. 1545 - Holbein disciple

PAGE 52: 'And then I saw, covering the whole of one wall, a picture I had heard of, painted last year by one of the late Master Holbein’s disciples: The King and His Family. It showed an inner room of the palace; in the centre, the King, solid, red-bearded and stern, sat on a throne under a richly patterned cloth of estate, wearing a broad-shouldered doublet in gold and black. He rested one hand on the shoulder of a little boy, Prince Edward, his only son. On his other side Edward’s mother, Henry’s long-dead third wife Jane Seymour, sat with hands folded demurely in her lap. Standing one on each side of the royal couple were a young lady and an adolescent girl: Lady Mary, Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, and Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, both restored to the succession two years before. Behind each of the young women was an open doorway giving onto a garden. In the doorway behind Mary, a little woman with a vacant expression on her face was visible, while behind Elizabeth stood a short man with a hunched back, a monkey in doublet and cap on his shoulder.'

Chapter V: THE GUARD ON DUTY recognized Lord Parr and opened the door for him. I knew that the Royal Apartments were organized on the same principle in each palace: a series of chambers, with access to each more and more restricted as one approached the King’s and Queen’s personal rooms at the heart. The King’s Presence Chamber was the most colourfully extravagant room yet in its decoration; one wall was covered with a tapestry of the Annunciation of the Virgin, in which all the figures were dressed in Roman costume, the colours so bright they almost hurt my eyes.

Whitehall Palace

Chapter VI: WE ALL LOOKED AT HER. She spoke quietly. ‘Last winter, it seemed the King was moving in the direction of reform. He had made Parliament pass the bill that gave him control of the chantries; another bastion of popish ceremony had fallen. I had published my Prayers and Meditations that summer, and felt the time was safe for me to write another book, a declaration to the world of my beliefs, as Marguerite of Navarre has done.

Katherine Parr

Chapter VII: IT WAS WITH A SENSE OF RELIEF that I rode out under the gate of the palace again. I made my way slowly towards Charing Cross. Genesis sneezed and shook his head at the dust from the Scotland Yard brickworks, which endlessly laboured to produce materials to embellish and improve Whitehall.


Chapter VIII: WE WALKED ALONG the Strand, under Temple Bar and down Fleet Street. It was afternoon now, and I was glad of the bread and cheese Tamasin had given me earlier. Nicholas’s natural walk was a fast lope, and I told him to slow down a little, reminding him that lawyers are men of dignity and should walk gravely. We crossed the Fleet Bridge, and I held my breath at the stink of the river.

William Paget

Chapter IX: MASTER OKEDENE’S establishment was a three-storey house. The bottom floor was a bookshop, volumes displayed on a table outside. They were varied; from Eliot’s Castle of Health to little books on astrology and herbs, and Latin classics.

Chapter X: WHEN I REACHED the Thames Street stairs there were plenty of boatmen waiting along the riverside, calling, ‘Eastward Ho!’ or ‘Westward Ho!’ to indicate whether they were going up- or downriver. I called to a man who was going upriver, and he pulled into the steps.

John Bale

Chapter XI: MARY ODELL WAS a tall, plump woman in her early thirties, dressed in black silk livery, the Queen’s badge fixed to the cap atop her fair hair. She had soft features, and something of a motherly air, although she wore no wedding ring.

Chapter XII: THE LAWYERS AND THEIR wives progressed out of Lincoln’s Inn chapel, slowly and soberly as always after service; the men in black robes and caps, the women in their best summer silks.

Baynard's Castle

Like Richard III, whose skeleton was recently discovered, Will Somers likely suffered from juvenile onset scoliosis. He came to Henry's court as a young man ...

Excellent! I have a feeling that by concentrating on young Nicholas we shall have a way of reaching further into the history which follows. Let's face it, none of us will be happy until Dicky Rich is in his six foot pitch.