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The moderate man shall inherit the kingdom.
That man needs to be the Queenmaker.
London 1529 – Cardinal Wolsey has ruled England in King Henry VIII’s name for most of his reign. Now Henry wants to leave his extraordinary Spanish wife of twenty years, Queen Katherine, to marry Anne Boleyn and secure a male heir for the kingdom. Only God can end a marriage, through his appointed voices on Earth, the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, and Cardinal Campeggio sent from Rome in the Pope’s place. Wolsey’s faithful attendant, commoner Thomas Cromwell, has the mind, the skills and the ambition to secure a royal annulment.
Cromwell’s forgotten past in Italy reappears with Campeggio’s new attendant, Nicóla Frescobaldi, the peculiar son of Cromwell’s former Italian master. While the great cardinals of Christendom fight the King, the Pope, and their God for an annulment, Cromwell and Frescobaldi hold the power over a country at war with its own conscience. Cromwell is called the double-minded man, whose golden eyes make money appear. Now Cromwell wants the power to destroy the Catholic Church in England. Frescobaldi is known as the waif-like creature, the Pope’s favourite companion, but Frescobaldi wants freedom from Pope Clement and his Medici family in Italy.
Cromwell and Frescobaldi will place themselves into the heart of religious and political influence as they strive to create an English queen, or lose their heads for their crimes and sinful secrets.
November 1533 – Thomas Cromwell and Nicóla Frescobaldi have their queen on the throne. The Catholic Church is being destroyed as the Reformation looms over England. Cromwell has total power at court and in parliament, while Frescobaldi wins favour with the king’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.
But England’s fate is uncertain. The nobles still despise Cromwell and his Italian creature. Anne has not given the king a son. Queen Katherine refuses to give up her title, and Thomas More and Bishop Fisher defy their king. The final Plantagenets think they should hold the throne while the Catholics want Princess Mary named as heir.
England can be reformed, but Cromwell must dissolve all the monasteries and abbeys, and with the king on his side, the plan to change religion will sever heads. Queen Anne is losing Henry’s love, but Cromwell could suffer if Anne loses her crown. Frescobaldi creates a daring plan to replace Anne and regain the Pope’s favour, but Cromwell must execute the plans on his own. Schemes will go astray and the wrong heads will be severed to satisfy a vengeful sovereign.
Kings will rise, queens shall fall, children will perish, and the people of England will march in a pilgrimage to take Cromwell’s head, while Frescobaldi will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
London, January 1537 – Thomas Cromwell is in deep mourning. His new queen is on the throne at King Henry’s command, but the personal cost is too high. Nicòla Frescobaldi is lying dead inside the Medici tomb in Florence, and Cromwell’s only daughter Jane is missing. Now, the people of England have rebelled against their king, marching to London to start a civil war. The Pilgrimage of Grace has two demands: remove all the Reformation changes from religion and cut off Cromwell’s head.
Cromwell needs his friends, allies and the king’s favour more than ever, but he can do nothing when Queen Jane dies giving England its son and heir. Cromwell’s son has married the Queen’s sister, but the Seymours will disappear from favour if Cromwell does not eliminate all those able to take their place. There is only one solution; become Queenmaker yet again and find a foreign princess for Henry, one to seal religious change and create stability in the war of Catholic against Protestant.
Nicòla Frescobaldi may be dead, but Duchess Nicòletta of Florence is not, so Cromwell and his creature can rule politics again to control England and Ireland. But when war with the Holy Roman Empire threatens, all of Cromwell’s powers, titles and schemes cannot save him from his oldest enemy in England, and a betrayal deep in the heart of the powerful Cromwellian faction.
There will be blood…