I went back to harder times to have this discussion with Lady Anne. She is a fascinating woman, but she has an edge to her, a dangerous kind of edge. Since I didn’t want to cross her, I made sure to have enough mulled wine.
Welcome, Lady Anne. It’s lovely of you to join us. Please make yourself comfortable as we begin.
Thank you. If you would supply me with a blanket and a warm glass of mulled wine, I shall be very comfortable.
Me: I read somewhere that you lost your mother. If you don’t mind me asking, how did she pass away?
Lady Anne: I do not speak of my mother, though it pains me deeply to never mention her name. We were so close, barely apart before, well, it grieves me deeply to relive the night she was taken from me. Men came in the night. Dragged her from her bed. They said she was a witch. Nonsense created by men to satisfy their bloodlust. Mother had become too powerful in their eyes. Women are meant for bedding and motherhood, nothing more according to them. Mother had caught the eye of a powerful man and I was the child created of their love. I pleaded innocence of who my father was as Mother had instructed and I was allowed to go free to live with my cousin and her husband who treated me appallingly. I never saw my mother again. I was told she died in prison before a trial of sorts could be arranged. I believe she was poisoned to keep her silent. My cousin encouraged me to keep quiet and never to speak my mother’s name. I did her bidding to survive, now I whisper it when I am alone and I am sure, I conjure her spirit back to me. Katherine…
Me: Are you an only child?
Lady Anne: I am. My mother became pregnant twice more following my creation, but both died in the early stages of pregnancy. I do not think my mother wanted them and she used her knowledge to be rid of them. My father would not tolerate more children. I was allowed, as a mere girl could be hidden away, but if my mother conceived boys, well, they could become a problem for my father, a man of great influence within the royal household. A man already married, with daughters of his own. He needed a son from his wife, not my mother, his mistress.
Me: You’ve been married for how long?
Lady Anne: I have been wed to William for six years. Six long, blissful years with the man I had loved long before we wed.
Me: Is there a big difference in age?
Lady Anne: I was one and twenty when we married. William was five and thirty. It did not matter to either of us. I wanted a strong, powerful man and William was both. My cousin had kept me hidden away from potential suitors as they did not wish to lose all the land and home that had become mine on my mother’s death. William did not require my land or home, merely a small dowry and my body as he needed sons. Once my cousin knew of this, they encouraged William’s attentions towards me and I secretly was elated as I had loved William for some years.
Me: Does he have any children?
Lady Anne: William had a five year old daughter, Gwenllian when we wed. She was the result of his first wife, Jane who died giving birth to the brat. William mourned her terribly and her death resulted in a close bond between the child and himself. One I cannot fathom and one I will not allow to continue. Gwenllian is nearing her twelfth birthday; it is time she was wed.
Me: It must be difficult to be a stepmother. How do you go about disciplining the child?
Lady Anne: It is nigh on impossible. The child is spoilt and rude and wild in my opinion. She does not behave like a young girl, but a wild animal, sometimes covered in mud and foliage and her hair tangled and unkempt. I find her curled up on Williams’s knee late at night as the men speak of politics and war strategies; it is unseemly.
I tried for a long time to acquaint myself with Gwenllian. I tried to become the mother she needed, but the girl fought me at every turn. We hate each other beyond measure. I despise her closeness to my William. They have something I cannot possess and Gwenllian knows it.
Me: Do you want children of your own?
Lady Anne: Oh, how can you ask such a thing? (sobs) I have lost five of my own children. Three died within the first months of creation. Two lasted until the third quarter and were born early, lasting minutes, gasping for breath before God took them from me, leaving me empty and grief stricken. How I despise this God who takes my babies, leaving me wretched and powerless. I now carry one more and nothing shall ruin this last chance for me. I will protect this child, a boy, if I must use magic to do it. Secretly, my mother and my nanny taught me incantations to summon spirits who will protect my child from harm. I would use such magic against the king, Gwenllian and all who dare to stand in my way of motherhood. I shall not fear God and his wrath no longer. He has taken from me and now I shall use whatever powers I possess to save this one.
Me: What’s a normal day for you?
Lady Anne: Being a good and loving wife to my William. I work with the kitchen to make sure all of William’s favourite foods are prepared to perfection. I check his clothes are washed and mended if needed. His horse is cared for, his home is freshly scented with clean straw and everything is unsoiled and washed regularly. I am available for his desire, always, making sure I remain pleasing and supportive for my husband.
I gave up trying to work with his daughter. I leave that to her nanny, Nia, a Welshwoman who dotes on the girl. I despise her too. I believe it is she who is bringing bad luck on my children. She will be dealt with.
Me: If you could spend an entire day with someone, who would it be and what would you want to do?
Lady Anne: I ONLY wish to be with William, my husband, my Knight, my love. No one else matters. Not the king, his queen, or that brat. I would wish to be rid of all of them as they take his attention away from me. I would spend all day in his arms, making love again and again, to feel his touch, his kiss.
Me: Do you have a garden? If so, what’s your favorite plant or flower?
Lady Anne: We do indeed have a garden, though small, it is well contained with herbs and wild flowers, vegetables and trees of apple and pears, plums and wild strawberries grow in the summer. I cannot choose but one flower or plant, all of nature has its uses. Feverfew is the one of the most useful as William does have headaches and lavender of course. I am waiting for foxglove to grow as it may be useful in getting rid of my enemies. Not many know of its deadly usage. I am also aware of fungi which grow in the nearby woods, which may be helpful in the same matter.
Me: Do you have close friends? What do you like to do with your friends?
Lady Anne: I have no friends. I was despised when I married William and they despise me still. I am not lady Jane and that is my crime. I do not like Gwenllian and that is unforgivable. They do not see how I have tried, so I gave up. I prefer my own company.
Me: What do you consider a good marriage?
Lady Anne: Being a good wife and loving my husband completely, producing sons so that my husband can expand his land and title and so far, I have failed in that one duty.
Me: What is happening in your lives right now?
Lady Anne: I am pregnant with our sixth child. It is a boy, I feel it. William is ecstatic and has ordered me to rest, which I am doing as nothing will stop this baby from living. Though in truth, it is difficult as there is unrest in the country. King Richard III has been accused of killing his nephews. They have disappeared from the tower and many are appalled at this. A claim to the throne has been made by a Tudor, Henry. We have been given secret information by William’s best friend, Sir Rhys ap Thomas that Henry is gathering another army to march on England and to claim his rightful crown. His last attempt went awry, but we believe he will succeed this time. William has secretly pledged his honour to Henry, along with Sir Rhys and they will meet him and his army. William believes a battle will commence at Bosworth if all goes according to plan. I am tense as the baby is due and if King Richard finds out of William’s treachery we are all doomed, but if Henry succeeds, then our lives will be the richer as William will gain favour. If I can give him a son, be rid of Gwenllian, and then our lives can be complete.
If you’re interested in learning more about Lady Anne, head on over to Amazon to get a copy of Echoes by P.J. Roscoe.
Kings, Queens, and Deception,