Most ViewedHow The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Plighted Their Troth In The Cloisters Of Saint George's Chapel
How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Met In King James's Bower In The Moat
Of The Combat Between Will Sommers And Patch
How King Henry The Eighth Held A Chapter Of The Garter
Of The Meeting Of King Henry The Eighth And Anne Boleyn At The Lower Gate
Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower
How Mabel Lyndwood Was Taken To The Castle By Nicholas Clamp
What Passed Between Anne Boleyn And The Duke Of Suffolk And How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Her In The Oratory
How Herne Appeared To Henry In The Home Park
In What Manner Herne Declared His Passion For Mabel
Least ViewedHow Tristram Lyndwood Was Interrogated By The King
Of The Interview Between Henry And Catherine Of Arragon In The Urswick Chapel
The Last Great Epoch In The History Of The Castle
Of The Mysterious Noise Heard In The Curfew Tower
How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Henry On The Terrace
Comprising The Fourth Epoch In The History Of The Castle
How Sir Thomas Wyat Found Mabel In The Sandstone Cave And What Happened To Him There
Of The Desperate Resolution Formed By Tristram And Fenwolf And How The Train Was Laid
How Anne Boleyn Received Proof Of Henry's Passion For Jane Seymour
What Passed Between Norris And The Tall Monk
Of The Meeting Of King Henry The Eighth And Anne Boleyn At The Lower Gate
A joyous day was it for Windsor and great were the preparations made by
its loyal inhabitants for a suitable reception to their sovereign. At
an early hour the town was thronged with strangers from the neighbouring
villages, and later on crowds began to arrive from London, some having
come along the highway on horseback, and others having rowed in various
craft up the river. All were clad in holiday attire, and the streets
presented an appearance of unwonted bustle and gaiety. The Maypole
in Bachelors' Acre was hung with flowers. Several booths, with flags
floating above them, were erected in the same place, where ale, mead,
and hypocras, together with cold pasties, hams, capons, and large joints
of beef and mutton, might be obtained. Mummers and minstrels were in
attendance, and every kind of diversion was going forward. Here was one
party wrestling; there another, casting the bar; on this side a set
of rustics were dancing a merry round with a bevy of buxom Berkshire
lasses; on that stood a fourth group, listening to a youth playing on
the recorders. At one end of the Acre large fires were lighted, before
which two whole oxen were roasting, provided in honour of the occasion
by the mayor and burgesses of the town; at the other, butts were set
against which the Duke of Shoreditch and his companions, the five
marquises, were practising. The duke himself shot admirably, and never
failed to hit the bulls-eye; but the great feat of the day was performed
by Morgan Fenwolf, who thrice split the duke's shafts as they stuck in
"Well done!" cried the duke, as he witnessed the achievement; "why, you
shoot as bravely as Herne the Hunter. Old wives tell us he used to split
the arrows of his comrades in that fashion."
"He must have learnt the trick from Herne himself in the forest," cried
one of the bystanders.
Morgan Fenwolf looked fiercely round in search of the speaker, but
could not discern him. He, however, shot no more, and refusing a cup of
hypocras offered him by Shoreditch, disappeared among the crowd.
Soon after this the booths were emptied, the bar thrown down, the
Maypole and the butts deserted, and the whole of Bachelors' Acre cleared
of its occupants--except those who were compelled to attend to the
mighty spits turning before the fires--by the loud discharge of ordnance
from the castle gates, accompanied by the ringing of bells, announcing
that the mayor and burgesses of Windsor, together with the officers of
the Order of the Garter, were setting forth to Datchet Bridge to meet
the royal procession.
Those who most promptly obeyed this summons beheld the lower castle
gate, built by the then reigning monarch, open, while from it issued
four trumpeters clad in emblazoned coats, with silken bandrols depending
from their horns, blowing loud fanfares. They were followed by twelve
henchmen, walking four abreast, arrayed in scarlet tunics, with the
royal cypher H.R. worked in gold on the breast, and carrying gilt
poleaxes over their shoulders. Next came a company of archers, equipped
in helm and brigandine, and armed with long pikes, glittering, as did
their steel accoutrements, in the bright sunshine. They were succeeded
by the bailiffs and burgesses of the town, riding three abreast, and
enveloped in gowns of scarlet cloth; after which rode the mayor of
Windsor in a gown of crimson velvet, and attended by two footmen, in
white and red damask, carrying white wands. The mayor was followed by a
company of the town guard, with partisans over the shoulders. Then
came the sheriff of the county and his attendants. Next followed the
twenty-six alms-knights (for such was their number), walking two and
two, and wearing red mantles, with a scutcheon of Saint George on the
shoulder, but without the garter surrounding it. Then came the thirteen
petty canons, in murrey-coloured gowns, with the arms of Saint George
wrought in a roundel on the shoulder; then the twelve canons, similarly
attired; and lastly the dean of the college, in his cope.
A slight pause ensued, and the chief officers of the Garter made their
appearance. First walked the Black Rod, clothed in a russet-coloured
mantle, faced with alternate panes of blue and red, emblazoned with
flower-de-luces of gold and crowned lions. He carried a small black rod,
the ensign of his office, surmounted with the lion of England in silver.
After the Black Rod came the Garter, habited in a gown of crimson satin,
paned and emblazoned like that of the officer who preceded him, hearing
a white crown with a sceptre upon it, and having a gilt crown in lieu
of a cap upon his head. The Garter was followed by the register, a
grave personage, in a black gown, with a surplice over it, covered by a
mantelet of furs. Then came the chancellor of the Order, in his robe of
murrey-coloured velvet lined with sarcenet, with a badge on the shoulder
consisting of a gold rose, enclosed in a garter wrought with pearls of
damask gold. Lastly came the Bishop of Winchester, the prelate of the
Order, wearing his mitre, and habited in a robe of crimson velvet
lined with white taffeta, faced with blue, and embroidered on the right
shoulder with a scutcheon of Saint George, encompassed with the Garter,
and adorned with cordons of blue silk mingled with gold.
Brought up by a rear guard of halberdiers, the procession moved slowly
along Thames Street, the houses of which, as well as those in Peascod
Street, were all more or less decorated--the humbler sort being covered
with branches of trees, intermingled with garlands of flowers, while the
better description was hung with pieces of tapestry, carpets, and
rich stuffs. Nor should it pass unnoticed that the loyalty of Bryan
Bowntance, the host of the Garter, had exhibited itself in an arch
thrown across the road opposite his house, adorned with various
coloured ribbons and flowers, in the midst of which was a large shield,
exhibiting the letters, b. and h. (in mystic allusion to Henry and Anne
Boleyn) intermingled and surrounded by love-knots.
Turning off on the left into the lower road, skirting the north of the
castle, and following the course of the river to Datchet, by which
it was understood the royal cavalcade would make its approach, the
procession arrived at an open space by the side of the river, where it
came to a halt, and the dean, chancellor, and prelate, together with
other officers of the Garter, embarked in a barge moored to the bank,
which was towed slowly down the stream in the direction of Datchet
Bridge--a band of minstrels stationed within it playing all the time.
Meanwhile the rest of the cavalcade, having again set for ward, pursued
their course along the banks of the river, proceeding at a foot's pace,
and accompanied by crowds of spectators, cheering them as they moved
along. The day was bright and beautiful, and nothing was wanting to
enhance the beauty of the spectacle. On the left flowed the silver
Thames, crowded with craft, filled with richly-dressed personages of
both sexes, amid which floated the pompous barge appropriated to the
officers of the Garter, which was hung with banners and streamers, and
decorated at the sides with targets, emblazoned with the arms of
St. George. On the greensward edging the stream marched a brilliant
cavalcade, and on the right lay the old woods of the Home Park, with
long vistas opening through them, giving exquisite peeps of the towers
and battlements of the castle.
Half an hour brought the cavalcade to Datchet Bridge, at the foot of
which a pavilion was erected for the accommodation of the mayor and
burgesses. And here, having dismounted, they awaited the king's arrival.
Shortly after this a cloud of dust on the Staines Road seemed to
announce the approach of the royal party, and all rushed forth and held
themselves in readiness to meet it. But the dust appeared to have been
raised by a company of horsemen, headed by Captain Bouchier, who rode up
the next moment. Courteously saluting the mayor, Bouchier informed him
that Mistress Anne Boleyn was close behind, and that it was the king's
pleasure that she should be attended in all state to the lower gate of
the castle, there to await his coming, as he himself intended to enter
it with her. The mayor replied that the sovereign's behests should be
implicitly obeyed, and he thereupon stationed himself at the farther
side of the bridge in expectation of Anne Boleyn's arrival.
Presently the sound of trumpets smote his ear, and a numerous and
splendid retinue was seen advancing, consisting of nobles, knights,
esquires, and gentlemen, ranged according to their degrees, and all
sumptuously apparelled in cloths of gold and silver, and velvets of
various colours, richly embroidered. Besides these, there were pages
and other attendants in the liveries of their masters, together with
sergeants of the guard and henchmen in their full accoutrements.
Among the nobles were the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk--the king being
desirous of honouring as much as possible her whom he had resolved to
make his queen. The former was clothed in tissue, embroidered with roses
of gold, with a baldric across his body of massive gold, and was mounted
on a charger likewise trapped in gold; and the latter wore a mantle of
cloth of silver, pounced in the form of letters, and lined with blue
velvet, while his horse was trapped hardwise in harness embroidered with
bullion gold curiously wrought. Both also wore the collar of the Order
of the Garter. Near them rode Sir Thomas Boleyn, who, conscious of the
dignity to which his daughter was to be advanced, comported himself with
almost intolerable haughtiness.
Immediately behind Sir Thomas Boleyn came a sumptuous litter covered
with cloth of gold, drawn by four white palfreys caparisoned in white
damask down to the ground, and each having a page in white and blue
satin at its head. Over the litter was borne a canopy of cloth of gold
supported by four gilt staves, and ornamented at the corners with silver
bells, ringing forth sweet music as it moved along. Each staff was borne
by a knight, of whom sixteen were in attendance to relieve one another
In this litter sat Anne Boleyn. She wore a surcoat of white tissue,
and a mantle of the same material lined with ermine. Her gown, which,
however, was now concealed by the surcoat, was of cloth of gold tissue,
raised with pearls of silver damask, with a stomacher of purple gold
similarly raised, and large open sleeves lined with chequered tissue.
Around her neck she wore a chain of orient pearls, from which depended
a diamond cross. A black velvet cap, richly embroidered with pearls and
other precious stones, and ornamented with a small white plume, covered
her head; and her small feet were hidden in blue velvet brodequins,
decorated with diamond stars.
Anne Boleyn's features were exquisitely formed, and though not regular,
far more charming than if they had been so. Her nose was slightly
aquiline, but not enough so to detract from its beauty, and had a little
retrousse; point that completed its attraction. The rest of her features
were delicately chiselled: the chin being beautifully rounded, the brow
smooth and white as snow, while the rose could not vie with the bloom of
her cheek. Her neck--alas! that the fell hand of the executioner should
ever touch it--was long and slender, her eyes large and blue, and of
irresistible witchery--sometimes scorching the beholder like a sunbeam,
anon melting him with soul-subduing softness.
Of her accomplishments other opportunities will be found to speak; but
it may be mentioned that she was skilled on many instruments, danced and
sang divinely, and had rare powers of conversation and wit. If to these
she had not added the dangerous desire to please, and the wish to hold
other hearts than the royal one she had enslaved, in thraldom, all
might, perhaps, have been well. But, alas like many other beautiful
women, she had a strong tendency to coquetry. How severely she suffered
for it, it is the purpose of this history to relate. An excellent
description of her has been given by a contemporary writer, the Comte de
Chateaubriand, who, while somewhat disparaging her personal attractions,
speaks in rapturous terms of her accomplishments: "Anne," writes
the Comte, "avait un esprit si deslie qui c'estoit a qui l'ouiroit
desgoiser; et ci venoitelle a poetiser, telle qu' Orpheus, elle eust
faict les ours et rochers attentifs: puis saltoit, balloit, et dancoit
toutes dances Anglaises ou Estranges, et en imagina nombre qui ont garde
son nom ou celluy du galant pour qui les feit: puis scavoit tous les
jeux, qu'elle jouoit avec non plus d'heur que d'habilite puis chantoit
comme syrene, s'accompagnant de luth; harpoit mieueix que le roy David,
et manioit fort gentilment fleuste et rebec; puis s'accoustroit de tant
et si merveilleuses facons, que ses inventions, faisoient d'elle le
parangon de toutes des dames les plus sucrees de la court; mais nulle
n'avoit sa grace, laquelle, au dire d'un ancien, passe venuste'." Such
was the opinion of one who knew her well during her residence at the
French court, when in attendance on Mary of England, consort of Louis
XII., and afterwards Duchess of Suffolk.
At this moment Anne's eyes were fixed with some tenderness upon one of
the supporters of her canopy on the right--a very handsome young man,
attired in a doublet and hose of black tylsent, paned and cut, and
whose tall, well-proportioned figure was seen to the greatest advantage,
inasmuch as he had divested himself of his mantle, for his better
convenience in walking.
"I fear me you will fatigue yourself, Sir Thomas Wyat," said Anne
Boleyn, in tones of musical sweetness, which made the heart beat and the
colour mount to the cheeks of him she addressed. "You had better allow
Sir Thomas Arundel or Sir John Hulstone to relieve you."
"I can feel no fatigue when near you, madam," replied Wyat, in a low
A slight blush overspread Anne's features, and she raised her
embroidered kerchief to her lips.
"If I had that kerchief I would wear it at the next lists, and defy all
comers," said Wyat.
"You shall have it, then," rejoined Anne. "I love all chivalrous
exploits, and will do my best to encourage them."
"Take heed, Sir Thomas," said Sir Francis Weston, the knight who held
the staff on the other side, "or we shall have the canopy down. Let Sir
Thomas Arundel relieve you."
"No," rejoined Wyat, recovering himself; "I will not rest till we come
to the bridge."
"You are in no haste to possess the kerchief," said Anne petulantly.
"There you wrong me, madam!" cried Sir Thomas eagerly.
"What ho, good fellows!" he shouted to the attendants at the palfreys'
heads, "your lady desires you to stop."
"And I desire them to go on--I, Will Sommers, jester to the high and
mighty King Harry the Eighth!" cried a voice of mock authority behind
the knight. "What if Sir Thomas Wyat has undertaken to carry the canopy
farther than any of his companions, is that a reason he should be
relieved? Of a surety not--go on, I say!"
The person who thus spoke then stepped forward, and threw a glance so
full of significance at Anne Boleyn that she did not care to dispute the
order, but, on the contrary, laughingly acquiesced in it.
Will Sommers--the king's jester, as he described himself--was a small
middle-aged personage, with a physiognomy in which good nature and
malice, folly and shrewdness, were so oddly blended, that it was
difficult to say which predominated. His look was cunning and sarcastic,
but it was tempered by great drollery and oddity of manner, and he
laughed so heartily at his own jests and jibes, that it was scarcely
possible to help joining him. His attire consisted of a long loose gown
of spotted crimson silk, with the royal cipher woven in front in gold;
hose of blue cloth, guarded with red and black cloth; and red cordovan
buskins. A sash tied round his waist served him instead of a girdle, and
he wore a trencher-shaped velvet cap on his head, with a white tufted
feather in it. In his hand he carried a small horn. He was generally
attended by a monkey, habited in a crimson doublet and hood, which sat
upon his shoulder, and played very diverting tricks, but the animal was
not with him on the present occasion.
Will Sommers was a great favourite with the king, and ventured upon
familiarities which no one else dared to use with him. The favour in
which he stood with his royal master procured him admittance to his
presence at all hours and at all seasons, and his influence, though
seldom exerted, was very great. He was especially serviceable in turning
aside the edge of the king's displeasure, and more frequently exerted
himself to allay the storm than to raise it. His principal hostility was
directed against Wolsey, whose arrogance and grasping practices were the
constant subjects of his railing. It was seldom, such was his privileged
character, and the protection he enjoyed from the sovereign, that any of
the courtiers resented his remarks; but Sir Thomas Wyat's feelings being
now deeply interested, he turned sharply round, and said, "How now, thou
meddling varlet, what business hast thou to interfere?"
"I interfere to prove my authority, gossip Wyat," replied Sommers,
"and to show that, varlet as I am, I am as powerful as Mistress Anne
Boleyn--nay, that I am yet more powerful, because I am obeyed, while she
"Were I at liberty," said Sir Thomas angrily, "I would make thee repent
"But thou art not at liberty, good gossip," replied the jester,
screaming with laughter; "thou art tied like a slave to the oar, and
cannot free thyself from it--ha! ha!" Having enjoyed the knight's
discomposure for a few seconds, he advanced towards him, and whispered
in his ear, "Don't mistake me, gossip. I have done thee good service in
preventing thee from taking that kerchief. Hadst thou received it in the
presence of these witnesses, thou wouldst have been lodged in the
Round Tower of Windsor Castle to-morrow, instead of feasting with the
knights-companions in Saint George's Hall."
"I believe thou art right, gossip," said Wyat in the same tone.
"Rest assured I am," replied Sommers; "and I further more counsel thee to
decline this dangerous gift altogether, and to think no more of the fair
profferer, or if thou must think of her, let it be as of one beyond thy
reach. Cross not the lion's path; take a friendly hint from the jackal."
And without waiting for a reply, he darted away, and mingled with the
cavalcade in the rear.
Immediately behind Anne Boleyn's litter rode a company of henchmen of
the royal household, armed with gilt partisans. Next succeeded a
chariot covered with red cloth of gold, and drawn by four horses
richly caparisoned, containing the old Duchess of Norfolk and the old
Marchioness of Dorset. Then came the king's natural son, the Duke of
Richmond--a young man formed on the same large scale, and distinguished
by the same haughty port, and the same bluff manner, as his royal
sire. The duke's mother was the Lady Talboys, esteemed one of the
most beautiful women of the age, and who had for a long time held
the capricious monarch captive. Henry was warmly attached to his son,
showered favours without number upon him, and might have done yet more
if fate had not snatched him away at an early age.
Though scarcely eighteen, the Duke of Richmond looked more than
twenty, and his lips and chin were clothed with a well-grown though
closely-clipped beard. He was magnificently habited in a doublet of
cloth of gold of bawdekin, the placard and sleeves of which were wrought
with flat gold, and fastened with aiglets. A girdle of crimson velvet,
enriched with precious stones, encircled his waist, and sustained a
poniard and a Toledo sword, damascened with gold. Over all he wore a
loose robe, or housse, of scarlet mohair, trimmed with minever, and was
further decorated with the collar of the Order of the Garter. His
cap was of white velvet, ornamented with emeralds, and from the side
depended a small azure plume. He rode a magnificent black charger,
trapped in housings of cloth of gold, powdered with ermine.
By the duke's side rode the Earl of Surrey attired--as upon the previous
day, and mounted on a fiery Arabian, trapped in crimson velvet fringed
with Venetian gold. Both nobles were attended by their esquires in their
Behind them came a chariot covered with cloth of silver, and drawn,
like the first, by four horses in rich housings, containing two very
beautiful damsels, one of whom attracted so much of the attention of
the youthful nobles, that it was with difficulty they could preserve due
order of march. The young dame in question was about seventeen; her face
was oval in form, with features of the utmost delicacy and regularity.
Her complexion was fair and pale, and contrasted strikingly with her
jetty brows and magnificent black eyes, of oriental size, tenderness,
and lustre. Her dark and luxuriant tresses were confined by a cap of
black velvet faced with white satin, and ornamented with pearls. Her
gown was of white satin worked with gold, and had long open pendent
sleeves, while from her slender and marble neck hung a cordeliere--a
species of necklace imitated from the cord worn by Franciscan friars,
and formed of crimson silk twisted with threads of Venetian gold..
This fair creature was the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald
Fitzgerald, ninth Earl of Kildare, who claimed descent from the Geraldi
family of Florence; but she was generally known by the appellation of
the Fair Geraldine--a title bestowed upon her, on account of her beauty,
by the king, and by which she still lives, and will continue to live, as
long as poetry endures, in the deathless and enchanting strains of her
lover, the Earl of Surrey. At the instance of her mother, Lady Kildare,
the Fair Geraldine was brought up with the Princess Mary, afterwards
Queen of England; but she had been lately assigned by the royal order as
one of the attendants--a post equivalent to that of maid of honour--to
Her companion was the Lady Mary Howard, the sister of the Earl of
Surrey, a nymph about her own age, and possessed of great personal
attractions, having nobly-formed features, radiant blue eyes, light
tresses, and a complexion of dazzling clearness. Lady Mary Howard
nourished a passion for the Duke of Richmond, whom she saw with secret
chagrin captivated by the superior charms of the Fair Geraldine. Her
uneasiness, however, was in some degree abated by the knowledge, which
as confidante of the latter she had obtained, that her brother was
master of her heart. Lady Mary was dressed in blue velvet, cut and lined
with cloth of gold, and wore a headgear of white velvet, ornamented with
Just as the cavalcade came in sight of Datchet Bridge, the Duke of
Richmond turned his horse's head, and rode up to the side of the chariot
on which the Fair Geraldine was sitting.
"I am come to tell you of a marvellous adventure that befell Surrey in
the Home Park at Windsor last night," he said. "He declares he has seen
the demon hunter, Herne."
"Then pray let the Earl of Surrey relate the adventure to us himself,"
replied the Fair Geraldine. "No one can tell a story so well as the hero
The duke signed to the youthful earl, who was glancing rather wistfully
at them, and he immediately joined them, while Richmond passed over to
the Lady Mary Howard. Surrey then proceeded to relate what had happened
to him in the park, and the fair Geraldine listened to his recital with
"Heaven shield us from evil spirits!" she exclaimed, crossing herself.
"But what is the history of this wicked hunter, my lord? and why did he
incur such a dreadful doom?"
"I know nothing more than that he was a keeper in the forest, who,
having committed some heinous crime, hanged himself from a branch of the
oak beneath which I found the keeper, Morgan Fenwolf, and which still
bears his name," replied the earl. "For this unrighteous act he cannot
obtain rest, but is condemned to wander through the forest at midnight,
where he wreaks his vengeance in blasting the trees."
"The legend I have heard differs from yours," observed the Duke of
Richmond: "it runs that the spirit by which the forest is haunted is a
wood-demon, who assumes the shape of the ghostly hunter, and seeks to
tempt or terrify the keepers to sell their souls to him."
"Your grace's legend is the better of the two," said Lady Mary Howard,
"or rather, I should say, the more probable. I trust the evil spirit did
not make you any such offer, brother of Surrey?"
The earl gravely shook his head.
"If I were to meet him, and he offered me my heart's dearest wish, I
fear he would prevail with me," observed the duke, glancing tenderly at
the Fair Geraldine.
"Tush!--the subject is too serious for jesting, Richmond," said Surrey
"His grace, as is usual in compacts with the fiend, might have reason to
rue his bargain," observed Lady Mary Howard peevishly.
"If the Earl of Surrey were my brother," remarked the Fair Geraldine
to the Lady Mary, "I would interdict him from roaming in the park after
"He is very wilful," said Lady Mary, smiling, "and holds my commands but
"Let the Fair Geraldine lay hers upon me, and she shall not have to
reproach me with disobedience," rejoined the earl.
"I must interpose to prevent their utterance," cried Richmond, with a
somewhat jealous look at his friend, "for I have determined to know more
of this mystery, and shall require the earl's assistance to unravel it.
I think I remember Morgan Fenwolf, the keeper, and will send for him to
the castle, and question him. But in any case, I and Surrey will visit
Herne's Oak to-night."
The remonstrances of both ladies were interrupted by the sudden
appearance of Will Sommers.
"What ho! my lords--to your places! to your places!" cried the jester,
in a shrill angry voice. "See ye not we are close upon Datchet Bridge?
Ye can converse with these fair dames at a more fitting season; but it
is the king's pleasure that the cavalcade should make a goodly show. To
your places, I say!"
Laughing at the jester's peremptory injunction, the two young nobles
nevertheless obeyed it, and, bending almost to the saddle-bow to the
ladies, resumed their posts.
The concourse assembled on Datchet Bridge welcomed Anne Boleyn's arrival
with loud acclamations, while joyous strains proceeded from sackbut and
psaltery, and echoing blasts from the trumpets. Caps were flung into
the air, and a piece of ordnance was fired from the barge, which was
presently afterwards answered by the castle guns. Having paid his
homage to Anne Boleyn, the mayor rejoined the company of bailiffs and
burgesses, and the whole cavalcade crossed the bridge, winding their
way slowly along the banks of the river, the barge, with the minstrels
playing in it, accompanying them the while. In this way they reached
Windsor; and as Anne Boleyn gazed up at the lordly castle above which
the royal standard now floated, proud and aspiring thoughts swelled her
heart, and she longed for the hour when she should approach it as its
mistress. Just then her eye chanced on Sir Thomas Wyat, who was riding
behind her amongst the knights, and she felt, though it might cost her a
struggle, that love would yield to ambition.
Leaving the barge and its occupants to await the king's arrival, the
cavalcade ascended Thames Street, and were welcomed everywhere with
acclamations and rejoicing. Bryan Bowntance, who had stationed himself
on the right of the arch in front of his house, attempted to address
Anne Boleyn, but could not bring forth a word. His failure, how ever,
was more successful than his speech might have been, inasmuch as it
excited abundance of merriment.
Arrived at the area in front of the lower gateway, Anne Boleyn's litter
was drawn up in the midst of it, and the whole of the cavalcade
grouping around her, presented a magnificent sight to the archers and
arquebusiers stationed on the towers and walls.
Just at this moment a signal gun was heard from Datchet Bridge,
announcing that the king had reached it, and the Dukes of Suffolk,
Norfolk, and Richmond, together with the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas
Wyat, and a few of their gentle men, rode back to meet him. They had
scarcely, however, reached the foot of the hill when the royal party
appeared in view, for the king with his characteristic impatience, on
drawing near the castle, had urged his attendants quickly forward.
First came half a dozen trumpeters, with silken bandrols fluttering in
the breeze, blowing loud flourishes. Then a party of halberdiers, whose
leaders had pennons streaming from the tops of their tall pikes. Next
came two gentlemen ushers bareheaded, but mounted and richly habited,
belonging to the Cardinal of York, who cried out as they pressed
forward, "On before, my masters, on before!--make way for my lord's
Then came a sergeant-of-arms bearing a great mace of silver, and two
gentlemen carrying each a pillar of silver. Next rode a gentleman
carrying the cardinal's hat, and after him came Wolsey himself, mounted
on a mule trapped in crimson velvet, with a saddle covered with the same
stuff, and gilt stirrups. His large person was arrayed in robes of
the finest crimson satin engrained, and a silk cap of the same colour
contrasted by its brightness with the pale purple tint of his sullen,
morose, and bloated features. The cardinal took no notice of the clamour
around him, but now and then, when an expression of dislike was uttered
against him, for he had already begun to be unpopular with the people,
he would raise his eyes and direct a withering glance at the hardy
speaker. But these expressions were few, for, though tottering, Wolsey
was yet too formidable to be insulted with impunity. On either side of
him were two mounted attend ants, each caring a gilt poleaxe, who, if he
had given the word, would have instantly chastised the insolence of
the bystanders, while behind him rode his two cross-bearers upon homes
trapped in scarlet.
Wolsey's princely retinue was followed by a litter of crimson velvet, in
which lay the pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio, whose infirmities
were so great that he could not move without assistance. Campeggio was
likewise attended by a numerous train.
After a long line of lords, knights, and esquires, came Henry the
Eighth. He was apparelled in a robe of crimson velvet furred with
ermines, and wore a doublet of raised gold, the placard of which was
embroidered with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, large pearls, and other
precious stones. About his neck was a baldric of balas rubies, and over
his robe he wore the collar of the Order of the Garter. His horse, a
charger of the largest size, and well able to sustain his vast weight,
was trapped in crimson velvet, purfled with ermines. His knights and
esquires were clothed in purple velvet, and his henchmen in scarlet
tunics of the same make as those worn by the warders of the Tower at the
Henry was in his thirty-eighth year, and though somewhat overgrown and
heavy, had lost none of his activity, and but little of the grace of his
noble proportions. His size and breadth of limb were well displayed in
his magnificent habiliment. His countenance was handsome and manly, with
a certain broad burly look, thoroughly English in its character, which
won him much admiration from his subjects; and though it might be
objected that the eyes were too small, and the mouth somewhat too
diminutive, it could not be denied that the general expression of the
face was kingly in the extreme. A prince of a more "royal presence"
than Henry the Eighth was never seen, and though he had many and grave
faults, want of dignity was not amongst the number.
Henry entered Windsor amid the acclamations of the spectators, the
fanfares of trumpeters, and the roar of ordnance from the castle walls.
Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn, having descended from her litter, which passed
through the gate into the lower ward, stood with her ladies beneath the
canopy awaiting his arrival.
A wide clear space was preserved before her, into which, however, Wolsey
penetrated, and, dismounting, placed himself so that he could witness
the meeting between her and the king. Behind him stood the jester, Will
Sommers, who was equally curious with himself. The litter of Cardinal
Campeggio passed through the gateway and proceeded to the lodgings
reserved for his eminence.
Scarcely had Wolsey taken up his station than Henry rode up, and,
alighting, consigned his horse to a page, and, followed by the Duke
of Richmond and the Earl of Surrey, advanced towards Anne Boleyn, who
immediately stepped forward to meet him.
"Fair mistress," he said, taking her hand, and regarding her with a look
of passionate devotion, "I welcome you to this my castle of Windsor,
and trust soon to make you as absolute mistress of it as I am lord and
Anne Boleyn blushed, and cast down her eyes, and Sir Thomas Wyat, who
stood at some little distance with his hand upon his saddle, regarding
her, felt that any hopes he might have entertained were utterly
"Heard you that, my lord cardinal?" said Will Sommers to Wolsey. "She
will soon be mistress here. As she comes in, you go out--mind that!"
The cardinal made no answer further than was conveyed by the deepened
colour of his cheeks.
Amid continued fanfares and acclamations, Harry then led Anne Boleyn
through the gateway, followed by the ladies in waiting, who were joined
by Richmond and Surrey. The prelate, chancellor, register, black rod,
and other officers of the Garter, together with the whole of the
royal retinue who had dismounted, came after them. A vast concourse
of spectators, extending almost as far as the Lieutenant's Tower, was
collected in front of the alms-knights' houses; but a wide space had
been kept clear by the henchmen for the passage of the sovereign and his
train, and along this Henry proceeded with Anne Boleyn, in the direction
of the upper ward. Just as he reached the Norman Tower, and passed the
entrance to the keep, the Duke of Shoreditch, who was standing beneath
the gateway, advanced towards him and prostrated himself on one knee.
"May it please your majesty," said Shoreditch, "I last night arrested
a butcher of Windsor for uttering words highly disrespectful of your
highness, and of the fair and virtuous lady by your side."
"Ah! God's death!" exclaimed the king. "Where is the traitor? Bring him
"He is here," replied Shoreditch.
And immediately Mark Fytton was brought forward by a couple of
halberdiers. He still preserved his undaunted demeanour, and gazed
sternly at the king.
"So, fellow, thou hast dared to speak disrespectfully of us--ha!" cried
"I have spoken the truth," replied the butcher fearlessly. "I have said
you were about to divorce your lawful consort, Catherine of Arragon, and
to take the minion, Anne Boleyn, who stands beside you, to your bed. And
I added, it was a wrongful act."
"Foul befall thy lying tongue for saying so!" replied Henry furiously.
"I have a mind to pluck it from thy throat, and cast it to the dogs.
What ho! guards, take this caitiff to the summit of the highest tower of
the castle--the Curfew Tower--and hang him from it, so that all my loyal
subjects in Windsor may see how traitors are served."
"Your highness has judged him justly," said Anne Boleyn. "You say so
now, Mistress Anne Boleyn," rejoined the butcher; "but you yourself
shall one day stand in as much peril of your life as I do, and shall
plead as vainly as I should, were I to plead at all, which I will never
do to this inexorable tyrant. You will then remember my end."
"Away with him!" cried Henry. "I myself will go to the Garter Tower to
see it done. Farewell for a short while, sweetheart. I will read these
partisans of Catherine a terrible lesson."
As the butcher was hurried off to the Curfew Tower, the king proceeded
with his attendants to the Garter Tower, and ascended to its summit.
In less than ten minutes a stout pole, like the mast of a ship, was
thrust through the battlements of the Curfew Tower, on the side looking
towards the town. To this pole a rope, of some dozen feet in length,
and having a noose at one end, was firmly secured. The butcher was then
brought forth, bound hand and foot, and the noose was thrown over his
While this was passing, the wretched man descried a person looking at
him from a window in a wooden structure projecting from the side of the
"What, are you there, Morgan Fenwolf?" he cried. "Remember what passed
between us in the dungeon last night, and be warned! You will not meet
your end as firmly as I meet mine?"
"Make thy shrift quickly, fellow, if thou hast aught to say," interposed
one of the halberdiers.
"I have no shrift to make," rejoined the butcher. "I have already
settled my account with Heaven. God preserve Queen Catherine!"
As he uttered these words, he was thrust off from the battlements by
the halberdiers, and his body swung into the abyss amid the hootings and
execrations of the spectators below.
Having glutted his eyes with the horrible sight, Henry descended from
the tower, and returned to Anne Boleyn.
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