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Loyal in Love: Henrietta Maria, Wife of Charles I (A Queens of England Novel) Paperback – October 23, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: A Queens of England Novel
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307346161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307346162
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JEAN PLAIDY is the pen name of the prolific English author Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt. More than fourteen million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Visit www.CrownHistorical.com to learn of other Jean Plaidy titles available from Three Rivers Press.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
The Dowager Queen

When I sit here alone in my château of Colombes, which I inhabit by grace of my nephew that great and glorious ruler whom they call The Sun King, I often think back over my life—one which has had more than its fair share of sorrow, humiliation, intrigue and tragedy. I am old now and my word stands for little, but though no one listens to me, I am allowed my comforts, for after all they must remember that I am the aunt of one King and the mother of another; and kings and queens never forget the deference due to royalty, for if they did not show it to others a day may come when it is not shown to them. Royalty is sacred to royalty—though not always so, alas, with the people. When I think of the manner in which the people of England treated their King—the wickedness, the cruelty, the bitter, bitter humiliation—even now my anger rises to such heights that I fear I shall do myself an injury. I should be old enough to restrain my temper now; I should remind myself that I have my silent accusers who would say that if the King had not had the misfortune to marry me, he would be alive and on his throne at this moment.

That is all in the past . . . all dead and gone. It is a new world now. There is a King on the throne of England for the Monarchy has been restored. The people love him, I am told; and indeed I was aware of this when I paid a visit to England not long ago. My dearest Henriette—the best-loved of all my children—glows when she talks of him. She always loved him dearly. He is witty, they say; he loves pleasure but he is shrewd. He is his grandfather—the father I never knew—all over again. He has charm though he is ugly. He was born ugly—the ugliest baby I ever saw. I remember when they first put him into my arms, I could not believe that this little unprepossessing thing could possibly be the child of my handsome husband and myself—for in spite of my small stature and certain defects, I was regarded in those days—even by my enemies—as having a goodly share of physical charms.

Are the troubles over? Is this the end of the nightmare which overshadowed England for all those years? Have people learned their lesson? With flowers and sweet music they welcomed Charles when he returned and there was rejoicing throughout London and the whole  of England. They had done with the hideous Puritan rule. For ever?  I wonder.

So Royalty has come back into its own. But it is too late for me. I am here, grateful to be in my small but beautiful château during the summer days, and in the winter, if I wish to go to Paris, my nephew has put the truly splendid Hôtel de la Balinière at my disposal.

He is kind to me—my glorious nephew. I think he has been a little in love with my sweet Henriette. And my son is kind, too. He always was—in that careless way which makes me think he would do anything for peace. I pray he will hold the crown. Louis respects him for all that he seems to devote himself to pleasure, and his great preoccupation would appear to be with the next seduction.

He looked at me so wisely when I was last in England. I begged him then to come to the true Faith, and he took my face in his hands and kissed me, calling me “Mam” as he used to when he was a little boy. “When the time is ripe,” he said enigmatically.

I never did understand Charles. I only know that he has this power to win people to him. He has grace for all his height, and charm which  outshines his ugliness. If he could but get a child all would be well for England—as well as it could be, that is, unblessed by the true Faith as it is. And that may come. It has been my hope for so many years that it will.

Charles’s wife, dear Catherine, is so docile and so much in love  with him. How can she be when he parades his mistresses before her and refuses—though in that charming, lighthearted way of his—to give up his profligate way of life?

I tried to talk to him when I was there—though more of religious matters, I must admit, than the need to get an heir. Catherine must be at fault. God knows he has enough bastards scattered throughout his kingdom, and he distributes titles and lands among them with a free hand. One of his courtiers said that a time will come when almost every Englishman, even from the remote corners of the country, will claim to be descended from Royal Stuart. And he cannot get one legitimate heir!

Life is strange. And I am now near to the end of mine. I think often of my dear husband Charles—of his saintly goodness, his gentleness, his loving kindness, and most of all the love which grew between us, though we had many a disagreement in the beginning, and in those early days there must have been times when he wished he had never been persuaded into the marriage, for all the good it was said it would bring to our two countries.

I dream of him now . . . going to his death on that cold January day. They told me he had said: “Give me an extra shirt. It is cold and I could tremble from the wind, and those who have come to see me die would think I trembled in fear of death.”

Nobly he went out to die. I see him in my dreams and I say to myself: “What did I do? If I had been a different woman, is it possible that this great tragedy, this murder, need never have happened?”

I want to go right back to the beginning. I want to think of everything that happened. And then I want to find the answer.

Could it have been different? Is it really possible that it need not have happened the way it did?

One cannot call the man who wielded the axe the murderer. But what of those cold-eyed men who passed the sentence?

I hate them. I hate them all.

But was I the one to blame?

Chapter 2
The Early Days

I was born into a troubled world and when I was only five months old my father was murdered. Fortunately for me at that time I was in my nursery and knew nothing of this deed which was said to have had such a disastrous effect not only on our family but on the whole of France.

Everything I knew of him was through hearsay; but I was one to keep my ears and eyes open, and for a long time after his death, he was talked of, so that by cautious questioning and alert observation, in time I began to learn a great deal about the father who had been taken from me.

He had been a great man—Henri of Navarre, the finest King the French had ever known—but of course the dead become sanctified, and those who are murdered—particularly those in high places—become martyrs. My own dear Charles . . . but that was a long way ahead in the future. I had much to endure before I was overwhelmed by the greatest tragedy of my life.

So my father died. There he was one day in good health—well, as near good health as a man of fifty can be who has lived a life of much indulgence—and the next a corpse brought home to the Louvre and laid on his bed in his closet there while the whole country mourned and the ministers guarded the palace and us children, particularly my brother Louis, who had then become King. And all the time I was sleeping peacefully in my cradle unaware of the action of a maniac which had robbed France of her King and me of my father.

There were seven of us in the nursery at that time. The eldest was Louis, the Dauphin, who was eight when I was born. After him came Elizabeth, who was a year younger than Louis. There was a gap of four years between Elizabeth and Christine and then the family increased with rapidity. There had been the little Duc d’Orléans who had died before there was time to give him a name, and after that Gaston and then myself, Henriette Marie.

My mother may have been unsatisfactory in the eyes of many but she certainly filled the nursery and that is said to be the first and most important duty of a queen. The people disliked her as much as they loved my father. For one thing she came from Tuscany, being the daughter of Francis the Second of that land; and the French had always hated foreigners. Moreover she was fat and not very handsome and was of the Medici family. People remember that other Italian woman, wife of Henri Deux, toward whom they had shown more venom than to any other monarch, blaming her for all the misfortunes of France, including the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the deaths by poison of many people. They had made a legend of her—the Italian poisoner. It was unfortunate that my mother should bear the name of Medici.

However, while my father had been there my mother was unimportant. She had had to accept his infidelities. He was a great lover of women. The Evergreen Gallant, the people called him, and right up to his death he was involved with women. The Duc de Sully—his very able minister and friend—had deplored this characteristic; but it was no use. Great king that he was he was first of all a lover and the pursuit of women was to him the most urgent necessity of his life. He could not exist without them. While this is doubtless a great weakness in a king, it is a foible which people indulgently shrug aside and indeed often applaud. “There is a man,” they say, with winks, nods and affectionate smiles.

Even at the time of his death he was involved in a romantic intrigue. I learned all about it from Mademoiselle de Montglat, who was the daughter of our governess and who, because she was so much older than I, had been set in charge of me by her mother. I called her Mamanglat as at first she was like a mother to me and later like an elder sister; and I was more fond of her than anyone I knew. Mamanglat became affectionately shortened to Mamie, and Mamie she remained to me forever.

We were all terrified of Madame de Montglat, who was always reminding us that she had the royal permission to whip us if we misbehaved, and as we were the Royal Children of France,...

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Customer Reviews

I give it two stars for that alone.
This is the first volume in the Queens of England series of books by Jean Plaidy, who is also known to her legion of fans as Victoria Holt.
This is precious book about Henrietta Maria.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first volume in the Queens of England series of books by Jean Plaidy, who is also known to her legion of fans as Victoria Holt. It is a well written work of historical fiction that tells the story of the daughter of King Henry IV of France, Henrietta Maria, who went on to marry King Charles I of England.

Henrietta Maria, a Catholic, found herself married to Charles, a Protestant, living in a Protestant country, among a Protestant people. The English, at the time, viewed Catholics with deep suspicion, as the excesses of the Catholic Queen Mary, "Bloody Mary", the daughter of Henry VIII, were still not forgotten. A fervent Catholic, however, Henrietta would not put aside her religion, nor was she particularly discreet about her devotion to Catholicism and, as such, was never fully accepted by the English people.

Henrietta Maria was an impetuous and pretty, young woman, fond of musical revels, fashionable clothes, and gossip. Her husband, Charles, a family man of principle and integrity, was devoted to her, and together they would go on to have a number of children. Their marriage of state, made for the purpose of maintaining a Franco-English alliance, turned out to be a real love match.

Henrietta Maria was also, however, a puppet of Rome, charged with leading Protestant England back to Catholicism. This was to cloud her judgment, at times, and cause much trouble down the road, and, ultimately, serve to pave the way for the rise of Cromwell and his Puritans. They would make her devotion to her religion and her influence over her husband a focal point for turbulence and civil war. Her loyalty and love for her husband was legendary, but not even she could keep him from the road that led to regicide.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Hudgens VINE VOICE on August 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Princess Henrietta Maria of France is arranged a marriage with Charles I of England. It is a match fraught with difficulties because England is by this point staunchly Protestant and Henrietta is dedicated to Catholicism. A marriage treaty is created which both sides have to know will never be enforced (including that Henrietta will have sole charge of the religious instruction of any offspring until they reach the age of 13). Henrietta goes to England believing the country to be open to her raising her children to be Catholics, but in fact the people and the leaders would never allow heirs to the throne to be taught contrary to the Church of England. Despite their differences, however, Henrietta and Charles fall very deeply in love and relish in their private lives together. They are unprepared for the change in feeling that is sweeping the nation, and seem to run headstrong towards disaster.

Quote: "'Oh Charles,' I cried, 'I have destroyed your plan! I, who would give my life for you, have destroyed you."

Finally, a queen and king who are madly in love and totally devoted to each other! Of course, we have to know it's too good to last. The author does a very good job with making the reader understand that although the king and queen make what seem to be unbelievably foolish choices, raised as they were to believe as they believe, it would not occur to them to act differently and they can't be judged from twenty-first century eyes. To admit that the king is not given his office by God? Insanity! To rule with help from Parliament instead of absolutely? Who are you kidding? To renounce the faith you were promised the freedom to practice, even to possibly save your husband's kingdom? Bowing to the masses? Not a realistic possibility. The characters are painted well, their good qualities and their faults, and the book makes for a very entertaining read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Leask on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I really love Jean Plaidy and her novels, and am so happy Three Rivers Press continues to re-publish one after another. This one, though not my favorite, is interesting and moving. Pick it up if your bored this summer, and the rest of Jean Plaidy's books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MONTGOMERY on April 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, what I knew of Henrietta Maria, besides being the wife of Charles I of England, was that she was also the woman who gave her name to the Colony of "Maryland". This is her story. She was the daughter of King Henri IV of France, widely acknowledged to be one of France's most popular and enlightened rulers who was killed by a madman when Henrietta Maria was a baby. She grew up under the sway of a domineering, distant mother set on marrying her children to influential royals in France and across Europe as a way of advancing and securing certain financial and political alliances. So, it was that Henrietta Maria, a fervent Catholic, was married to Charles I of Protestant England.

What I found especially interesting from reading this book was how Henrietta Maria's religiosity caused a lot of friction and problems in her personal life and made her an unpopular figure in England. It has to be borne in mind that England, scarcely a hundred years removed from the upheavals of the Reformation, was regarded as a pariah nation, despite her growing power as a mercantile nation. Henrietta Maria arrived in England with her own retinue with the determination to subtly bring England back to the "true faith." As part of her marriage contact, she was permitted to bring up her children as Catholic til they were thirteen years of age. Her husband, Charles I, seemed to be a well-meaning sort, though rather indecisive and often at odds with Parliament over how the country should be ruled. Charles, who believed firmly in the Divine Right of Kings, looked upon Parliament as an inconvenience best avoided if possible. So, for 11 years, he ruled without it. But Charles had to call them back when he was in need of money, for only Parliament was empowered to give him money.
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