Make Merry at Court
…with three Tudor Christmas stories!
In Blythe Gifford’s Christmas at Court, Sir John Talbot and Lady Alice’s secret betrothal must wait until Henry Tudor claims the throne. In Secrets of the Queen’s Lady by Jenni Fletcher, a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves is unexpectedly reunited with a handsome—and younger—diplomat at the palace’s festivities! And in His Mistletoe Lady by Amanda McCabe, Catherine seeks help from a mysterious Spaniard to free her father in time for Christmas!
While I have written many medieval-set romances, the Tudor era is more than 100 years away from my usual time period. My knowledge of the Tudors was basically “divorced, beheaded, survived.” So, I began my research with an internet search of Tudor + Christmas.
Imagine my delight to discover that Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, had pledged on Christmas Day of 1483 to marry Elizabeth of York. As someone who has written three Royal Wedding stories, this historical nugget and a Tudor Christmas anthology were a match made in Heaven. What better than to weave my story around the wedding that created the Tudor line?
The truth was more complicated. At the time of his vow, Henry, from the House of Lancaster, was in exile in Brittany. Elizabeth of York had taken sanctuary in England. The wedding was anything but certain.
And thereby hangs the tale of my hero and heroine. They, too, make a vow on that Christmas day, but they must celebrate three Christmases at Court before it is kept. For 1483 is a year in which England has three kings, and the man on the throne that Christmas has been called one of the most evil, detestable tyrants ever to walk this earth…
Out of all my books, I think this one has my absolute favourite cover. Not only is it gorgeous and festive, but the model looks exactly like I imagine my heroine, Pippa. She’s a widow, an ‘older’ woman (older for historical romance anyway!) who doesn’t expect much from life and just wants to put an unhappy past behind her. Because of that, I decided to give her a younger hero for Christmas, Kit, a courtier who’s pretty much besotted with her from the start.
I also like to use real historical figures in my books, if possible, so there are guest appearances in this story from Henry VIII and Katherine Howard, but the main secondary character is Anne of Cleves. Some people view her as a jilted wife, someone to be pitied, but I prefer to think of her as a clever woman who had a lucky escape from one of history’s worst husbands. She’s the real heart of this story, which is about being true to yourself and embracing second chances. It’s a heart-warming and hopeful Christmas story and I hope it gets you in a festive mood.
I love the holiday season, and the Tudors certainly knew how to celebrate with their music, dancing, feasting, and wassailing.
I imagine that Christmas 1554 was one of Queen Mary Tudor’s most happy, and last happy, moments. She’d come through decades of neglect and persecution to fight for her throne, combat the Wyatt Rebellion, led by noblemen centred in Kent who sought to dethrone Mary and replace her with Elizabeth (which our heroine Catherine’s father finds himself embroiled in), and marry her kinsman King Philip of Spain. (Sources say Queen Mary fell deeply in love; his feelings were more doubtful, or should we say dutiful.) Now England was reconciled with the Catholic Church, and she was expecting an heir.
Things were not so merry for long. By the summer of 1555, the pregnancy was known to be a phantom one—there was no baby at all. King Philip left to wage war in the Low Countries and Mary died in 1558, leaving the throne to her despised half-sister Elizabeth.
But I imagine Catherine and Diego’s story ends on a happier note. They are loosely based on the true story of Jane Dormer and the Count of Feria, who also appear in our tale. Jane and her count married soon after Queen Mary’s death, and she spent the rest of her very long life in Spain. I envision Catherine and Diego, along with her parents, living in Andalusia, raising beautiful children!