7 April 2021

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[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction

A Matter of Conscience: the Aragon Years offers a unique first-person account of the ‘monster’ we love to hate...

[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction
'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' - Tour banner

The Book:

A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years
(Book one of The Henrician Chronicle)
By Judith Arnopp
  • Publication Date: February 2021
  • Publisher: Feed a Read
  • Page Length: 335 pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction

The Blurb:

‘A king must have sons: strong, healthy sons to rule after him.’

On the unexpected death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, his brother, Henry, becomes heir to the throne of England. The intensive education that follows offers Henry a model for future excellence; a model that he is doomed to fail.

On his accession, he chooses his brother’s widow, Catalina of Aragon, to be his queen. Together they plan to reinstate the glory of days of old and fill the royal nursery with boys.

But when their first-born son dies at just a few months old, and subsequent babies are born dead or perish in the womb, the king’s golden dreams are tarnished.

Christendom mocks the virile prince. Catalina’s fertile years are ending yet all he has is one useless living daughter, and a baseborn son.

He needs a solution but stubborn to the end, Catalina refuses to step aside.

As their relationship founders, his eye is caught by a woman newly arrived from the French court. Her name is Anne Boleyn.

A Matter of Conscience: the Aragon Years offers a unique first-person account of the ‘monster’ we love to hate and reveals a man on the edge; an amiable man made dangerous by his own impossible expectation

[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction
 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' - Front cover

'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' - Excerpt:

1527 – Henry’s courtship of Anne Boleyn gathers pace

We are in the garden when she accidentally dislodges her hood. I pick it up, but before offering it back to her, I reach out for a glossy, dark strand that is not as dark as I first thought. She stands, stock still beneath my touch and does not move when I untie her coif and bare her head.

“Beautiful,” I breathe, running my hands over her hair, barely touching yet making her hair crackle and rise magically to meet my palm. It is not raven black nor merely brunette but a mixture of shades: enlivened highlights of red and gold.

“George says it looks Rusty,” she says, in her dismissive way.

“No, he is wrong. Shall I have him thrown in the tower, just to please you?”

When she laughs, she throws back her head, and my greedy eyes fasten on her throat, so long and white. I want to kiss her Adam’s apple, nibble the softness between neck and shoulder, inhale her fragrance, and tangle my fingers in her hair.

Instead, I chastely kiss her knuckles, clutch her hand close to my heart.

“Mistress Anne, would you …”

She withdraws her hand and places it on my chest as if it is a defensive rampart keeping me from her.

“Sire, please … do not ask it of me. I can never be your mistress.”

I blink in surprise. “It – it is usually considered an honour.”

“I know, I know it is, Your Majesty, a great honour and I love you above all others but I – I have a dream of marriage, children, a house in the country. I would marry for love.”

“Surely you are not still pining for Percy.”

The name issues in a sneer, as if he is some peddling player and not the son of the most powerful magnate in the north. She shakes her head with a pained expression.

“No, no. I am quite recovered from that but …I still harbour hopes of a loving marriage.”

Silence falls. I wonder if he had her. Shortly after she arrived from France her name was linked with Northumberland’s son but Wolsey, who had other plans for Anne, put paid to that as I later put paid to his plans for her marriage with Ormonde.

I watch her pluck a leaf from the hedge and begin to shred it with her nails. I had not expected a refusal, even from her. Nobody ever denies me. I frown, clear my throat, to explain it further.

“As my official mistress, you’d be the highest lady at court, bar the queen.”

“I’d be a whore, Your Majesty. A royal whore but a whore nevertheless.”

She spins away, repeating the word over and over as if to offend me but surely …even Anne would not go so far as to purposely goad me.

I am never sure what she will say or do next; perhaps that unpredictability is her charm. I follow her along the path.

“Not a whore, a royal companion, a helpmeet. Think of the good you could do, the people you could help, the scholars you could encourage…”

She halts, turns back.

“What do you mean? Scholars?”

She thinks I know nothing of her Lutheran leanings but there is little that escapes me in this court. My spies are everywhere, and I have discovered there are already many who resent Anne for her radical ideas.

“I know you are curious about the new learning. You could meet some of the best scholars in Europe face to face. Tindale is here in England now, you know.”

She frowns, shakes her head.

“But that would be against the law … your law!”

“I know.” I snatch up her hand again. “I’d be prepared to turn a blind eye if you were to become my mistress.”

I should not have to stoop so low. In truth, I do not mean it. It is a snare to know her price, to test if she can be bought.

I kiss her fingers, one by one, my ardour increasing each time my lips meet her flesh.

“The queen would never let that happen,” she says, and she is right. Kate detests the new learning; Heresy, she calls it and for once we are in agreement.

“The queen,” I lie softly. “Does as she is told.”

Anne’s laughter is high and mocking.

“She’d never meekly accept an official mistress endorsing the new religion, Your Majesty. Every one of her ladies that have ended up in your bed have ceased to enjoy the queen’s favour. I have no doubt that no sooner had you bedded me, I’d find myself sent back to Hever in disgrace.”

“But Anne …”

I follow her along the path, back toward the hall. At the door we encounter Brandon and my sister, arm in arm, about to take the air. They halt, bow their heads.

“Your Majesty. A lovely day,” Brandon says, while I kiss my sister.

“You know this lady, Mistress Anne Boleyn?” I open my arm to draw her forward and while Brandon bows stiffly over her hand, Mary sniffs and looks the other way.

“Yes,” she says, as if I am introducing her to a snake. “I have had that pleasure. A fine day.”

[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction
Judith Arnopp

Author Bio:

A lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith Arnopp holds a BA in English/Creative writing and an MA in Medieval Studies.

She lives on the coast of West Wales where she writes both fiction and non-fiction based in the Medieval and Tudor period. Her main focus is on the perspective of historical women but more recently is writing from the perspective of Henry VIII himself.

Her novels include:
  • A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, the Aragon Years
  • The Heretic Wind: the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England
  • Sisters of Arden: on the Pilgrimage of Grace
  • The Beaufort Bride: Book one of The Beaufort Chronicle
  • The Beaufort Woman: Book two of The Beaufort Chronicle
  • The King’s Mother: Book three of The Beaufort Chronicle
  • The Winchester Goose: at the Court of Henry VIII
  • A Song of Sixpence: the story of Elizabeth of York
  • Intractable Heart: the story of Katheryn Parr
  • The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn
  • The Song of Heledd
  • The Forest Dwellers
  • Peaceweaver
Judith is also a founder member of a re-enactment group called The Fyne Companye of Cambria and makes historical garments both for the group and others. She is not professionally trained but through trial, error and determination has learned how to make authentic looking, if not strictly HA, clothing. You can find her group Tudor Handmaid on Facebook. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

[Blog Tour] 'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle) By Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction
'A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years' - Tour schedule

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