Time Travel To The Court Of Old Henry VIII : Henry's Infatuation and the Religious Earthquake! By Mr A.N.Muggins (Sir Alfred Muggins, soon to be Lord Muggins!) Part 1
Alfred found he was getting on quite well with Henry. He was quite a cool guy actually, and he found that at this time there was a side of the King that wanted to be well liked, and to be, as it were, ‘one of the lads’!
However his mood could change quite easily if he thought anyone might be talking in a disrespectful way about him behind his back. He was slightly paranoid, even now in his still youthful, classic, middle part of his reign, before he started ‘rocking the boat’ too much, and making things really serious, fractious and crucial
At this time there was still the broad Catholic Church, of which everyone was a member, including the humanists and the reformers. The monks and abbots were still having lots of fun, and there was no suggestion yet that any of this was ever going to change. Little did they know what surprises were just around the corner
Henry had indeed already laid eyes on the beautiful Anne Boleyn by the time Alfred and Mrs Muggins came to Court. (Once Mrs Muggins had been waiting upon the Queen (Catherine of Aragon) for a period, and received the Queen’s favour, we begin to call her Lady Muggins instead of just Mrs ‘ordinary’ Muggins.)
As previously stated, when Alfred did lay eyes upon Anne Boleyn he could certainly understand why the King might feel charmed by her, and enamoured of her. If he had been the King Alfred could well imagine that he would have wanted to encourage her to become his mistress, because a King was allowed to have a mistress, probably just one at a time to be correct, and it could not upset his Queen, because it was traditional and therefore acceptable.
Unfortunately there was no prospect of an ordinary courtier, such as Alfred, who was not the King, having a mistress, and particularly not with his wife being here at Court. That would have drawn too much attention, and would have drawn too much attention, and would have engendered criticism, and created a scandal, but the King was expected to have a mistress!
This one however, while flattered by the King’s attention, was not willing to be just another mistress (as her sister Mary had already been for the King!). She negotiated, played courtly games, and refused to do anything undecent, except to flirt and swop messages with the King.
Alfred fancied her too, if he could just admit it, which he could not because he could not see himself as a competitor, in any sense, to the King, or upset any of the other ladies at Court, and especially not his wife Lady Muggins, who would surely be very jealous and would surely punish him in small ways for such thoughts. If the truth be known, Alfred thought, half the male population of Court fancied her to some degree. A lot of the ladies were rather jealous of her from the beginning, although she was quite nice to everyone. Indeed everyone also thought they were her special friend, as she had the knack of making people feel that she was their confidant and their friend.
Alfred judged that Anne Boleyn did fancy the King genuinely, and was not just trying to get up the ladder of success. Little did she know that her relationship with the King would eventually become her stairway to heaven, as lamented by the famous Led Zeppelin song! ‘There’s a Lady, called Anne, who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven!’ Alfred truly believed the song must have been written about Anne Boleyn, the Queen for a thousand days. He was well aware that many judged him to be a man who jumps to conclusions, but the more he listened to the mesmerising song he became evermore convinced. ‘Dear Lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know, your stairway lies on the whispering wind!’
Alfred has a theory also that ‘Candle In The Wind’ (by the Great King Elton John himself!) was actually written for her also, because she too, like the famous blonde filmstar, and pin up beauty Marilyn Monroe, departed her life at a young and tragic age! (a bit like Princess Diana too!) But as far as he is aware, the Great Elton has never revealed anything about this publicly.
Anne Boleyn’s presence did have the notable effect of increasing attendance at the French classes put on in the Palace of Westminster and other places, for those who would improve their French, Anne Boleyn having spent much of her young adult (and teenage!) years at the French Court, and being rather adept at the French tongue (and French kissing too, presumed Alfred rather too excitedly. Henry presumably thought so too!).
Instead of selling his Kingdom for a horse like Richard III, Henry famously went on to rock his Kingdom for the sake of acquiring this most desirable of young wives. She spoke French most alluringly, and was a completely charming courtesan. So strong was the spell she wove that the King was prepared to dice with the stability and traditions of his Kingdom, to replace his good and well loved first wife, and even to wrest his Kingdom from the jaws of the Papacy, which had held it under their idealogical straightjackets, their iron fists and boots, and their monks gowns, and cardinals and bishops hats, for so long, allowing Englishmen finally to be free to think, and how to worship as they chose (or probably more correctly to think as their King saw fit!)!
But in so doing he caused an earthquake in English Society, as opportunists flocked to his banner, while the conservative traditions of its people, and many of its Lords, were forced into rebellion and subterfuge, in order to prevent the changes which he willed.
A storm of religious arguments settled upon the nation while Henry and his followers ransacked and plundered the monasteries for their own good. Henry could say he was modernising a Kingdom, but he was also privatising its institutions, and pocketing much of the money, as a horde of ‘self made’ men bought up properties and sold off the church possessions to put money in Henry’s pocket, and their own!
(‘Selling England By The Pound’, the famous Genesis album, was according to Alfred, probably all about the selling off of the monasteries, as the 16th Century ‘developers’ moved in, but he hasn’t fully analysed the lyrics yet in that regard!)
(Rick Wakeman (of the great group Yes) famously created the wonderful ‘Six Wives Of Henry VIII album in the early seventies, devoting one track to each of the 6 wives (whether convicted of treason or not!)! Alfred did wish he could have taken a recording of it back in time to see what Henry made of the music, but he never quite got the knack of transporting ‘things’ back in time, although, as he has reported elsewhere, he did have some success with the transporting of people on occasion, most notably the transportation of Margaret Thatcher and half her cabinet of politicians and economists on one occasion to advise Henry on how to run (or ruin?) his Kingdom and its economy (and got them back in one piece (each)!)! Unfortunately they did not have musical recording or replaying equipment in Tudor times, so that would never have been possible (Perhaps just as well, as Henry might have chopped his head off if he had taken exception to the music, or to the interpretation of history or his relationships with his wives!).