November 6th, 1555
"Your Majesty, the Lord Dudley would like an audience," Edward glanced up from his papers at the servant.
If he mentions consorts once more I may need to have him beheaded.
"Send him," was the young king's response.
Footsteps approached and without looking up he inquired, "What is it now, Northumberland?"
"Well, Your Majesty as you know, you're in your eighteenth year. It is time for you to marry and produce an heir." Northumberland did not cower in his former ward's presence like most courtiers.
"I know my duties, Dudley," Edward's tone was curt, Northumberland was pushing a French alliance on him more.
"I am aware, Your Grace. Do you have any consorts in mind?" Dudley's urgent tone made Edward finally look up from the letter he was reading.
Of course he's here to talk about consorts once more.
"I do not. However, I will inform you that Elizabeth of Valois is too young for me to consider. Joanna of Austria is not quite pretty. Catherine of Sweden has been corresponding with me," He paused to hold up the letter he was reading. "She is intelligent but does not pull my interest, to worsen the matter she is poisoned by that parasitic Catholicism. Dorothea of Denmark is too young. There do not seem to be any available consorts my own age." Edward glanced at Dudley, allowing him to speak.
"My good king Edward, you are in your eighteenth year, there must be a woman available to take your hand. Dorothea is a bit young I agree, being only a girl of nine"
"However, Catherine of Sweden is fourteen years of age. I think she may be a good fit, you could have her convert to Protestantism when she arrives here."
"She has a pre-contract. I'm quite sure of it, she's the first Swedish princess in centuries." Edward balled up the letter and tossed it aside.
Northumberland nodded, "Elizabeth of Valois-"
"Is a girl of only ten, Northumberland," Edward was growing exasperated.
I do not want a French girl!
"Well, Joanna is not pretty but she has proven her ability to bear sons."
Joanna would be a bore. I want a lively woman, one that can go riding with me.
"I do not desire for her to be my consort, Northumberland."
"I deeply suggest Elizabeth, she may be young but she would make quite an impression on the English people." Dudley asserted his position once more.
The French won't give a large dowry nor will they offer a strong alliance.
A knock on the chamber door cut the mounting tensions between Northumberland and Edward.
"You may enter," Edward leaned back in his chair and exhaled deeply. His older sister, Elizabeth, entered the room, her skirts and long red hair swishing in different directions as she walked. She was one of his advisers while he negotiated a marriage for her.
"Your Majesty," she curtsied before him.
"Northumberland," she gave a nod to the duke.
"Lady Elizabeth," Northumberland bowed.
"What brings you sister?" Edward inquired, his spirits lifted.
"Well the talk of the court is that Edward VI is looking for a bride," she chuckled.
"There seems to be no suitable woman worthy to be Queen of England," he shook his head.
Elizabeth frowned, "I have a suggestion, if I may."
"Hopefully it won't be Elizabeth of Valois," Edward laughed.
"No, Isabella of Cleves, the niece of the Lady Anne. Her brother's daughter by a Sophia of Guelders, some extinct German duchy. The duke sent his daughter to live with Lady Anne after her mother died, she's her ward. Her father feels that she will not marry highly and his new wife will make sure that she does not." Elizabeth handed her brother a locket.
Edward smiled at his sister and opened it. Inside her saw a pretty girl. She had bright reddish blonde hair, blue eyes, long delicate eye lashes, with pretty features.
The perfection of this girl, one of God's angels, yet she is of flesh.
"How old is she, sister?"
"She is a young woman of seventeen. I take it you find her pretty." Elizabeth laughed.
"I would like to send for her. How soon can you bring her here?"
She must be my wife!
"I can have her here by noon if that's fine with you," His sister offered.
Edward looked out of the window, where the sun was beginning to rise.
"Bring her," he nodded to his sister and Northumberland to dismiss them.
Elizabeth curtsied and left. Northumberland lingered, "Your Grace, a German princess-"
"I dismissed you, Northumberland," Edward interjected and raised an eyebrow at the duke.
"Yes, Your Highness," Dudley bowed and left the chamber.
Edward opened the locket again to behold the face of this German princess. She reminded him of the Lady Elizabeth more so than the Lady Anne. His mind drifted to his sister Mary, Queen of Spain. She had recently sent news back to England of the birth of her daughter, Catherine of Spain and the year before news of a son, Henry. The Spanish Queen was definitely happy with her marriage and completely Catholic realm, just as Elizabeth had said she would. A match for Elizabeth was harder to grasp, although Eric of Sweden was the prime choice. The negotiations were already taking place and he would arrive to England shortly. He looked at the locket again, this German girl had heavy lids and finely shaped lips. He was so enamored by this portrait than he barely heard the knock at the door.
"Come in," he called softly.
Elizabeth enter with the Lady Anne close behind. Edward glanced behind him, with amazement he realized it was noon.
I surely haven't spent the entire morning gazing at this portrait!
"You want my niece, yah?" Lady Anne seemed a bit nervous.
"If she is willing to be my wife, I will marry her before Yuletide. She is your ward, correct?" Edward didn't want to go through the formalities but he needed consent.
"Yes and I give my consent. If she is to be your wife I shall write to my brother of the alliance." Lady Anne had learned in her years in England and was not as simple as first described.
"That would be a great favor you would give to the noble Kingdom of England," Edward shook her hand.
Edward's eyes were eager like that of a child. "May I meet the Lady Isabella?"
"Ah yes." Anne nodded and Edward left the two women in his chamber. He opened the door, expecting to see his soon-to-be bride but saw no one.
"She is in the Queen's quarters," Elizabeth offered, a smirk plastered on her face.
Edward left for the Queen's chambers and when he opened the door, his eyes widened. The Lady Isabella stood before him, so shocked she forgot to bow for a moment. Suddenly she dropped to her to her knees.
"Your Majesty," Her voice was trembling but it sounded beautiful.
He knelt beside her and helped her to her feet.
He gazed at her, taking in her presence and beauty. He noticed all of the features that he had seen in the portrait but his eyes traveled up and down. Her bosom was quite raised and her hips were wide, well made for childbearing. Her waist was small and she had delicate hands. She was not tall and her face was slender. Her eyes were wide and consuming, a deep blue-gray and her nose small, finely shaped. She was more striking in person.
I must say something!
"You are the Lady Isabella?"
"I am, Your Majesty,"
"You are a German princess I take it,"
Isabelle nodded. "I would assume so, I am the daughter of William, Duke of Cleves and Sophia of Guelders."
"A witty woman you are I see," Edward smirked.
"Thank you, Your Majesty."
Edward noticed her staring at him and wondering what she was thinking.
"How long have you stayed in England?"
"I was brought to my aunt, the Lady Anne, when I was a small girl of three. My mother had just passed away, she fell from her horse."
"My mother died soon after she bore me, her name was Jane."
"Jane is a pretty name,"
"What languages do you know?"
"Well because my aunt is the King's Beloved Sister, I was fortunate enough to learn Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, and German fluently."
"Well it is good to know that I can take you to diplomatic events and you be regarded as well learned," He found himself gazing upon her again.
Without thinking, he embraced her and planted a kiss on her lips. She jumped back, startled.
He wanted to possess her, hold her close to him and join their bodies together. He wanted her for more than just an alliance, he lusted her deeply in that moment.
Edward gazed upon the lovely Isabella, he could have consummated with her in that moment. He pressed her against the wall, kissing her passionately. His mind was not working, only his body. He attempted to undo her corset. She placed a hand on his chest.
"Your Majesty!" she was shocked, not angry.
Edward backed away, his face flushed red."My apologies, madam. Your beauty overtakes me so that my mind does not work,"
"It is quite alright, Your Grace. I just do not wish for our marriage to be considered invalid on any grounds," She bowed her head.
Lord banish these sinful thoughts from me!
"Say you'll be my wife," He whispered.
He held out his hand to her and she took it. He brought her back into his arms, she felt warm. He suddenly felt a tenderness in his heart.
"King Edward, you have all of the beautiful women in Europe of choose from. Why me, the forgotten German princess?"
"Because the 'forgotten German princess' was the most fair of all the women of Europe," He smiled at her and kissed her forehead.
"I will be your wife," she murmured. "If your people will accept me as such,"
She broke their embrace. "I would not want to be found to have been impure,"
He lifted her chin. "Edward the Sixth and Isabella of Cleves, by the Grace of God, King and Queen of England, Ireland and France, Defenders of the Faith, and of the Church of England in Earth Supreme Heads"
"That sounds wonderful, Your Grace. If you will have me and if God will it, I will be what you ask of me," Isabella murmured.
This woman would make the perfect wife.
"Then you shall be my wife," He whispered.
"At your discretion, Your Majesty." The German princess smiled and Edward found her even more beautiful.
"I will move you to the palace immediately. It would so please me if you were sleeping in these rooms tonight. You would have as many servants as you wished and you could wear my mother's gowns until some were made for yourself. Say you'll come," He was almost cooing to this woman.
"If my aunt allow it, I will come"
Edward left her and returned to his chamber. The Ladies Anne and Elizabeth were still there, waiting.
"What did you think of her?" Elizabeth inquired, she had a smirk.
"She is beautiful and intelligent. I would like her to remain at court from now on, if that is favorable to you Lady Anne."
"It would appear that my brother is smitten with your niece," Elizabeth chuckled.
The former queen's brow furrowed before she nodded. "I will write to my brother then?"
"I would suggest you do so immediately," Edward bowed to his father's fourth wife.
"I will leave for my home then. Farewell, Your Majesties." She curtsied as left the chamber.
Edward turned to his sister, "I am not 'smitten' with her. I just think she is a very handsome woman."
"Is that why you stared at that portrait all morning?" Elizabeth countered .
"How would you know?"
"You were stiff when you took leave of us. You hadn't moved for a while." Elizabeth was observant and she knew her brother well.
"Whatever the case, you now have a Protestant German princess as your queen-to-be. I hope my brother is pleased."
"I could not be any happier to behold her face. She is innocent and virtuous, I could not fathom a better queen for England's people." Edward heard himself, lavishly praising a woman he barely knew.
Elizabeth is right. This girl has gotten me quite smitten with her.
"She has two servants with her but I am quite sure the Lady Isabella would appreciate your audience more, Your Majesty." Elizabeth's voice was slightly mischievous but she curtsied and took leave of Edward.
Edward sat at his desk to write. He had to inform all of Europe that Edward VI of England was off the table.