Will the Young, Pretty Princess Defy a King?
All the news (and gossip) heard around the town from behind the tapestries, under the beds and through the keyholes.
The latest buzz around court is speculation of what will become of England’s Rose now that her elderly husband, the King of France, has gone to his eternal reward (supposedly with a smile on his face.)
The Princess is noted for her great beauty, charm and gaiety. She is the English King’s youngest sister and his great favorite. They grew up together, sharing many lessons and other activities. They excelled equally at musical endeavors, both instrumental and voice. They were the best dancers in the court and spent hours rehearsing their dance steps. They both loved to ride and the Princess often tagged along with her older brother and his friends on hunting and hawking excursions.
And one of her brother’s dearest friends is reputed to have stolen her heart.
The court was shocked when we heard the King had “sold” his lovely sister’s hand to the gouty, pockmarked 52-year-old King of France. The Princess is said to have fought this decision with all her might and main. The furious arguments could be heard all round the halls of Court. Tension reigned in the palace. But to the King, power, alliance and money trumps even the great brotherly love he feels for her.
To everyone’s great amusement, she agreed to the match on the King’s promise that she could have a sumptuous trousseau, a large amount of valuable jewelry and most important of all, that when this marriage ended she could choose her next husband based solely on love.
No one, including the King, had the slightest doubt as to who that choice would be. But to seal the deal, the King agreed to the princess’s demands. (The great hope of both monarchs was that the French king would quickly get her with child who would one day rule France, and England’s Rose would never return.)
Tales of the French marriage trickled back across the Channel causing great mirth among Court. The Princess, now Queen of France, was certainly holding her own. It was reported that she danced all night, and after a few hours’ sleep would go hunting or hawking the next day. The boasting of the French King of his prowess in the matrimonial bed certainly raised skeptical eyebrows and a few guffaws at the local pub.
The marriage lasted 82 days. Then, the old French king died. Some say his beautiful young princess simply wore him out. Now she was determined to hold her brother to their bargain that she could marry whomever she wished. But the king had other ideas. She was young and a new dynastic marriage could be made.
The King sent his best friend and closest companion to France to negotiate his sister’s return and the return of her dowry as well.
Is it mere coincidence that the king’s best friend also happens to be the great love of the Princess’ life? Is the King testing his sister and his friend’s loyalty by throwing them together, knowing of how they cared for one another? Could the king be so heartless?
Tis said the best friend has sworn an oath not to propose to the Princess, and by every account intends to abide it. The young and pretty princess, however, has always had her own ideas. Tis said she has actually proposed to her heart’s desire. And loving her so, could he refuse?
The latest word is that the marriage has either taken place or will take place shortly. We all hold our breaths here at court. To break an oath made to the King is treason. The penalty for treason is a painful death. Surely, this cannot be what is in store for the willful princess and her lover!
Yet will the King go back on his own promise to allow his sister to marry for love the second time around?
Will Queen step in on behalf of the Princess whom she is known to love? What, really, did the King expect knowing quite well how the couple felt about each other? Is this all orchestrated for the Court’s amusement? We shall soon know as the loving couple return from France any day now.
Dost thou know of whom I speak?