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Act I:  "Oft the Best-Laid Plans Run Astray"

Written by Diane N. Tran

    To the Hiddles, the standard to which all other men should be ideally measured.  I shall undoubtedly walk this earth forever alone due to the unreachable expectations you have placed for the men in my life.  (And to Tumblr, keep on Tomblin'!)

For six months, six long months, Harry Plantagenet, King of England, sat with advisors and monarchs up to his ears in the Great Hall of the French royal court at Troyes, labouring tirelessly o'er each individual scribbling of the treatise, sheets and sheets of words atop of words, till his eyes would cross, but 'twas necessary if France was to be all his and his alone.

No, he correct'd himself, not alone, for there was she.

For Katharine of Valois, fair Kate and most fair, daughter of the King of France, too, sat within the Great Hall, with her vestal chaperon at her side, quiet and careful, on a simple, wooden bench, her satin robes laid out in a pool around her feet upon the stonework, athwart the opposite ends of the room, listening and watching, whilst her life was chosen for her by a man she knew not.  His gaze would feign interest from the aimless burbling of councilmen and take in her as a most rare vision, like a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream was anything but she.  Marry, the princess was a dream he need ne'er wake from.

Whiles ladies of court had their curious fashion of manners and, in faith, their curious manner of fashions, the sovereign ruler of England had no possession of talent for wooing.  When it came to the calls of battlement, he was trumpeter of an orator; but when it came to affairs of the heart, he was a gowk of a prattler:  Other men, of infinite tongues, could rhyme themselves into ladies' favours and could reason themselves out again, but not he, for his condition was too rough and too plain and too honest to be anything other than himself.  Still, he could see her discontent, her worry:  Was her husband-to-be a good man, a noble man?  Would he treat her courteously, or cruelly?  Was she e'er to know happiness, or only regret?  What pray was to be of her fate?  Till he was vouchsaf'd an audience alone with her one day, all too brief for his taste, to plead his love-suit did she know her answer.

When the signing of the treatise was at an end, he finally had the freedom to do what he will'd and he chose to be in company of the Lady Katharine.  For the next fortnight, they walk'd together, arm in arm, and talk'd together, hour upon hour, in garden, in the library, in the corridors, in the halls, till there was no place left to do e'erything and anything and nothing.  He oft made excuses to be near her side, to help her slice a piece of fruit during meals, or to ask her to translate a word from his books, to help fetch the most insignificant of items, to perform the most irrelevant of deeds, simply to steal a fleeting touch of her hand or a whisp'ring fragrance of her hair.

Once he broke the string of a button upon his new doublet, a gift from Valois, she stood affront him and 'gainst him, her glancing fingers' ends held aloft a needle and thread, touches of lithe exquisiteness and genteel warmth brush'd intimately 'tween the elusive folds of fabric and o'er the collar of his bare chest, and left him to his affects:  His heart sped, his breath bated, his skin rived into goose-flesh, and his ken beheld her and only her, his world, his e'erything, his second self.

Unassuming as she was, there was this self-possession, this mute confidence, this careful observance, this acceptance of difference, this impassion of spirit, this fearlessness on her sleeve, this mischievous play, this gracious disregard for the customs and courtesies forc'd 'twixt them, that both besott'd and bewitch'd him, hopelessly, utterly, entirely.

By happy accident, one afternoon, he prepar'd their horses and they rode together, side by side.  When, by chance, he unleash'd the reins of her horse, she gallop'd afar, with the speed of a whirlwind, and he follow'd, screaming her name, fearful the beast would do her harm; but she, in troth, rode like a chasseur of France and laugh'd merrily the whole way.  When they took respite, to lay themselves down upon the grass, he tied their mounts to a branch, napp'd his head upon the pillow of her gentle lap, whilst her fingers wove through his soft curls and brush'd against his woollen beard, heard her sing the songs that would charm him, and perch'd the crown o'th' god of sleep on his eyelids.   There, she did dip her flowery head and gift him her chaste kiss.  Be still his heart, for ne'er had he known such glory of peace...

But, alas, freedom they had little of.  Vigilant were the attentions of her nurse and her family, and she, too, had her duties to perform, addling as they were, as Princess of France:  She would console her ailing father, attend her queenly mother, regard her siblings, and was privy to the comings and goings of court and council.  However, when the opportunist's advantage arose, whilst eyes so leery were divert'd, she would tilt her laurel of golden braids, adorn'd with pearls and ribbons, along his shoulder and entwine her fingers idly with his, roughen and callous by rein and sword; and yet there was a curiousness to her nature that he could not quite fathom:  This foreboding gloom, this questionable melancholy, would grip her soul without explanation, for he could see it, well-nigh touch it, in the downcast gaze of her eyes, in the sad purse of her lips, in the slow method of her gests, and in the tactful music of her voice, being that it held her back, caus'd her to evade his touch and slip away from his embrace, and he could not comprehend the reason behind these chastisements.

Still, the times she was gone, the castle, in all its luxuries and excesses, was unbearably empty and silent.  The wait 'tween the eve and the morn, the slow crawl of time, the hours he must tarry on his own, unable to do anything but pace and sleep, till he saw her next, was a long and lonely one.  Without her presence to fill the room and her voice to break the dull hush, he found the castle had become much like the imprisonable fortress 'twas meant to be rather than the strange haven it had become.  Made all the worse now that he had her to himself these two weeks.

But let it be said that the courses of true love ne'er did run smooth:  The wedding ceremony, for it may please the will of God, did not please the Harry of England, as it was not the grand festival he had hop'd worthy of a grand lady, nor of a princess, nor of a queen, but that of a pauperess:  It was small, private, sudden, and had all the features of an elopement — the basest form of marriage.  The bride and groom knelt before the friar to join hands and, with hands, join hearts; but did she not deserve better, of flowers and tributes and celebrants, of embellishments of costume and custom, with all of England and France therein, to see her as the resplendent woman that he saw her as?

The Lady of Valois spoke little at the ceremony, save a friar's prayer.  She spoke nothing at the feast — it, too, was a meagre disservice — that follow'd, grazing listlessly at crumbs of air.  She would not smile, nor meet his eye, nor bear his touch, but took excuse and forthwith retire.  The Lord of Lancaster did waver but a moment, only the briefest of moments.  Giving no care and no courtesy to the table, he gave a chase through the castle corridors and ground a halt whence the door of their bedchamber abas'd him a crook nose and a sunken pride.

"Kate?" he pled forth and rapt a coarse knuckle upon the timber of the chamber-door before he crept afoot.


>> NEXT - Act II: "Weightier Than Two Lovers As We"
Act I: "Oft the Best-Laid Plans Run Astray"
Act II: "Weightier Than Two Lovers As We"

Based on The Hollow Crown: Henry IV and Henry V BBC (2012) miniseries, starring Tom Hiddleston, directly after their whirlwind marriage, two weeks following the signing of the Treaty of Troyes, King Henry V of England and Katharine (Catherine) of Valois, daughter of the King of France, have only a few hours together in their bridal chamber before he leaves to resume his war campaigns.

Due to the intricacy of this pastiche, concerning the history, the characters, the feudal entitlement system, the extensive research, and the artistic reasoning behind it, a "compleat" essay-length writer's description will be read separately at the story's afterword. Special thanks to ~weapon13WhiteFang and ~GoodOldBaz for toughing out my exertion into the Shakespearean literary style in order to be my Grammar Nazis.

Diane N. Tran
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Maerorem-Caligo Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional Writer
This is beautiful. Simply beautiful. I found it a pleasure to read, like many of your other works. 
tranimation-art Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Yaaayyyyy, you liked it!  Phew, I was worried, because I'm not sure if I captured the Shakespeare feel in this one.  I feel it's too modern, but I have no talent for measuring beats and I don't believe I'm talented enough to emulate him with any fairness, so I "crossed" it.  I hope it reads fine.  However, I haven't gotten really gotten any reviews on it.  I always assume the worst when I don't.  It's the pessimist in me.
Maerorem-Caligo Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2013  Professional Writer
I feel the same about my stuff too, don't worry. And, yes, I love it. I will read all of what continues this, no doubt. While it was a little more modern it was brilliant. You really don't need to worry about that. Seriously, your words are like music- they WORK.
tranimation-art Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Awwwwwwwwwww....  That's very kind of you to say.  You make blush!  :huggle:
Maerorem-Caligo Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2013  Professional Writer
No problemo! :iconsuperheroglompplz:
saintixe56 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013
Who hears but one bell hears but one toll...

The French version:

The Anglo-Saxon world has it that Catherine - with a C thank you - de Valois was enamoured by her British Husband... as she would be. Was she? She was not!

She was the daughter of a mad (as insane) man, our King was mad, totally stark, raving mad or prone to long spells of dejection/depression. Her mother was not the best of mother and Isabeau/Isabel of Bavaria was so gross as to proclaim her own son, Catherine's brother as being a bastard!
Mind you it may well be; this queen was not rumoured to be the most faithful of wives...

Henry V had a ride because our king was not able to rule and our country was in the midst of a civil war. Poor Catherine was heart-broken by the state of her country and she was sold to the invader as a piece of cattle.

In a way the 'erratic' mood of Henry and Catherine'son Henry VI can be linked to his grandfather 's madness himself heir of his own mother... instability as they say...

She certainly got married at Troyes

from what we know in france they got married NOT at the cathedral saint pierre de troyes BUT IN THE CHURCH Saint Jean Au Marche on 02/06/1420 on the holy day of the Trinity

the reason is quite simple , a king of France has been crowned in this church, - in fact it had been charlemagne great grandson so it was an emperor as such. no king had been crowned in the cathedral. The french chronicles of the time say it was a grand/great wedding and that splendid as in grandiose gifts were made to the church by the newly weds.

if Henry could have had it, he would have married her in Reims, where most of all our kings were crowned since 486?496? AD.


if you care to visit the museum of Westminster you can see catherine death effigy, and real KATE.

what is said is that the poor girl at one point had to to be dresses because she was so poor she could not get fancy dresses for her wedding

Isabeau was a lot of things but a good mother she was not.

yes Shakespeare did fudge loads of historical facts, some reports say she went to love hgim and the Parisians did not like her/her behaviour when she returned to France in december 1420. she was expecting the city to treat her as the queen of france, which she was not

plus the very complicated though very simple dynastic laws of the kingdom applied since 486-496 AD no female and descendants of said female can ever be heir to the throne of france- simple

and if people find that unfair, I did not write this law, it has been the frankish law since before franks became kings of france
even if it is tom hiddleston asking .... sniff... we would like to reconsider but sorry, we cannot, though if tom wants to visit france we are happy to welcome him!
saintixe56 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013

thank you for your reply

I love your story-line and yes, poor CATHERINE HAD PROBLEMS

The C-K problem is not one. It is more a reminder that the whole story as such is still a painful subject on our side of the Channel. By the way, Catherine spent a good time of her childhood in our abbaye de Poissy. Poissy Abbey
, the town is where Saint Louis was born. Do not google it the idiots destroyed the beautiful abbatiale church in favour of a more modest and rather uglier though perfectly really medieval church (because they had enough churches!) Beotians!

So, yes Burgundians and Isabeau... I think all in all , her English Husband especially if he looked like eye-candy Hiddleston must have been like God-sent to her own eyes. For the rest, again and again, our dynasty has fallen in times where the crown had to move to a cousin family rather than accept a woman. To this day, there is a crowd which rejoices at the Borbon y Borbon of Spain as direct descendants of Louis XIV forgetting the small matter of Isabella II who as a woman etc etc

For the reference of Saint Jean au Marche , the references I have are not only in French but issued from Troyes as such, so if you want to Google in French you will find them

Saint Jean au Marche was though smaller historically way more significant :an emperor had been crowned there. But it is not that Catherine is not loved in France, she was a victim, Isabeau's daughter and Charles the Mad's child. As such not exactly the right prompt to get a fan club. Especially when in 9 years time after her wedding, comes Saint Joan of Arc. And tell me what woman on Earth aside another SAINT/VIRGIN/HEROIN/BLAMELESS/MARTYR can compete with Jeanne. Catherine was doomed from the beginning. Wrong parents, wrong husband, wrong timing.

I hope Henry and Owen were good to her! Interestingly, yesterday, I was reading notes- yes, in French, about how Catherine was received by Parisians in December 1420 and it seems poor Kate and probably this was suggested oh so wrongly by her husband that she should act queenly. In short, she behaved like she was the true queen of France, which enraged the PARISIAN BOURGEOIS WHO HAVE ALWAYS LOVED TO DESPISE THEIR BETTERS - nowadays included.
She would have only in total 18 months of happiness with Prince Hal; she deserved some good timeso give her with my blessings...

PS do we still root for Joan of Arc? You bet! Duguesclin was another hero and we would play in schjool playground at 'bouting the Englsih out of France'! not booting but bouter l'anglois hors de France. tell you, there is bad blood

not between you and me, mercifully. Curiously I am writing a story about the very first {known as having a noun, knowing who were her parents, who was her husband, children} queen of the british isles except she was simply the wife of a bretwalda Bertha of Kent and funnily enough
she was Chlodoweg great granddaughter but if you read the franks all her uncles had died childless/sonless/and the throne was seized by the last surviving great grandson whose real father was rumoured not to have been his father if you get the point
Bertha was truly Chlodoweg's great grand daughter, certified, Chlothar the young'father was - maybe Chilperic- maybe, nobody knows to this day
if you add this to the also very real fact that Bertha's son Eadbald married an Austrasian princess who may have been Brunhildis/Brunehaut and Sighebert grand daughter
you end up with the real heirs if the Frankish throne via female living in Britain!

I thought you might be interested by this twist!
tranimation-art Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Professional Filmographer
(7) I like that tidbit of Reims. I didn't know that. Makes it clearer why the wedding was so rushed. If I can add a mention of Reims to the story, I will. If not, I'll mention it in the afterword.
saintixe56 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013
Reims being in Champagne was belonging to the Burgundian 'de facto' state. Henry V who had recognized the king of France Charles 6, could not be crowned while Charles was still alive and as poor Hal dies before Charles, he never could get his own hands on the crown. Little Henry VI could make a claim, but the intestine war between Armagnac and Bourguignons plus the own English instability was not helping. And Jean paid by his life for his treason or what was called treason...
Philip his son was more tepid and when it comes to the crowning of little Henry such could not be. Children have be formally crowned
louis 13 9ys, louis 14 was crowned at 16 despite being king from age 5 and louis 15 was 12 king also from age 5
age had nothing to do with little henry but the fact that to get the full line up necessary to a sacre not to mention this holy of holy which is the saint ampoule . I suspect that the burgundians were also playing up the long game
Bourgogne/ jean sans peur was closer to the french throne under the salic law than the remote henry VI...

Reims access was denied to one and the other and at the end, Jeanne hoodwinked everybody and dared the burgundians to refuse passage to the dauphin.the rets is history
tranimation-art Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Professional Filmographer
(1) Shakespeare wrote the name as "Katharine" and went by that spelling rather than the proper "Catherine." That is what I chose since I was going by Shakespeare's take on its history. As writer, even I'm aware he fudged details for dramatic reasons.

(2) I'm well aware the King of France was mad at the time. And Catherine was the one that would bring this hereditary condition to the English royal line.

(3) Yes, it was a political marriage and totalled up the amount of time they spent together during their two years together, it would probably be barely ten weeks together. Hardly a marriage by today's standards. However, when Henry saw her portrait, he commented that she was fair. Is Isabeau set up a meeting between Henry and her daughter in Meulan, Henry seemed enchanted by Catherine, but he wouldn't stand down on his demands, Isabeau went into a fury. Henry got upset when they tried to continue negotiations when Catherine wasn't there, refused to talk until she was there, then flew into a rage when he learned Isabeau's party packed up and left without warning. After the signing of the Troyes, although busy with feud between Burgundians and Armagnacs were about to get into full swing, he did spend two weeks "courting" her, which is WEIRD when she pretty much the "prize cattle." He accordingly did a huge wedding, lots of fanfare, saying that he came off like emperor of the world, yet there are accounts saying it was relatively "quaint" wedding. Medieval weddings were usually "somber" events, so I assume it would be "quaint" if had fanfare (and the political black cloud at the time). After returning from battles of Sens, Montereau, and Melun to Paris in December (which is five months later), Henry returns, they takes her on a tour of France and England (a belated honeymoon), but this doubled to gather support and supplies for his war campaigns, which she apparently assisted him with. How, I'm not exactly sure, but he wasn't there when her coronation in England (although I had two references that saying he was and three or four that said he wasn't).

There is a cute event after she officiates as queen, Catherine showed her softer side in the English court: She had befriended the young James, King of Scots, who having been captured by the English while still a boy, had spent most of his life as a prisoner at the royal court. By all accounts handsome, lively and affable, and a great favourite of the King's, James had recently fallen in love with Joanna Beaufort, a renowned beauty of the English court, but in his present situation marriage was impossible. She was taken with the plight of these young lovers, Queen Catherine was determined that her new friend be restored to his kingdom, and pleaded with her husband on his behalf. To Catherine's joy, Henry relented, arrangements were put in place for the King's return to Scotland and the young couple were betrothed before the festivals of Catherine's coronation had ended. Also, when Catherine heard Henry was ill with dysentery, she ran of France, leaving her son (who was still nursing) to join him and was there during the last weeks of his life to, accordingly, his great comfort. Even after his death, she would speak of Henry with great fondness. So, despite being a political marriage, yes, there was clear indications of affection between the two. So, I play that off, much like Shakespeare himself did and why writer would.

(4) I'm very, very well aware that Isabeau was a bitch to the extreme. The line that I wrote about Catherine would spend time with her father, despite him being ill and mad, and mother, being a horrible woman, is in fact true, but I wrote it as a "false sense of security" because I will later reveal the reasoning behind it and tell the "reality" behind that curtain of priority. Catherine was, in fact, very close to her father and, together, with her siblings (for a long while) was held prisoner in Saint-Pol and Vincennes by her mother and her accomplices. Isabeau left them there to rot, didn't pay the servants (and many left), so they were left to pretty much by their own defenses, so she (as well as her other siblings and a handful of loyal servants) did care for her ailing father. When he started getting well again (specifically that period where his senses were coming back), the King of France was trying to retake some control from Isabeau and she didn't like that and the Duke of Burgundy (John the Fearless) didn't like that and that's when the family was split apart and Catherine was thrown into a basically a nunnery, as her brothers started "mysteriously" dying off -- and I'm looking at you, John the Fearless -- and the power struggles went on and on and on. When Catherine came of marriagable age, Isabeau used Catherine to her advantage and attempted to "groom" her into her another version of herself, used her to get her hands on more power, more money, and get her claws into Henry V. Catherine bounced around because of Isabeau but, reading between the historical lines, it's surprising that Catherine was unswayed by Isabeau. She did what she was told, perhaps fear of her life, but she never any of Isabeau's ambition, which Isabeau tried very much to instill her with, and Catherine had her own moral code and never really budged from it. For a woman at the time, doing through all the crap she did, I'm impressed how strong of a character she was and how wily she was because she SURVIVED alllll of this. She's treated like a footnote in history, but had a strangely unique and impressive and passionate nature behind that quiet personality. That's what I wanted to show with this story.

(5) Yes, I'm well aware Catherine was not well liked in France, nor England actually. It didn't help when Isabeau did that entire "take my daughter under my wing" thing, or Dukes of Burgundy (both John the Fearless and Philip the Good) were bouncing her around like pawn, and then married the English enemy king. Then England hated her, particularly his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who THIRD in line for the English throne who later stole away her Henry VI as a child from her so she wouldn't corrupt him with her "French" ways. Despite Gloucester's crazy paranoia of Catherine, her son Henry VI always spoke about her with fondness and deep affection and did what he could to keep her happy and comfortable, despite the entire affair with Owen Tudor and even gave his half-siblings entitlements. He didn't HAVE to do that, he could have had them executed, but he did it anyway.

(6) Thanks for showing that reference to the church. In my research, I have about five books (these are just the books, not including the other references like short articles, timelines, etc) they never specify the church. For some reason, there's doubt and I thought that was really curious and suspicious. This is Henry V of England (and would-be France, if he didn't die so early) and you'd think historians would have confirmation on which church, but they didn't! (I'd like two more references to confirm that it was Saint Jean Au Marche, not that it really matters because I don't mention the church by name within the story, but more for my own context/information.) Because it wasn't specified on which church, I took a "creative license" and said it was very rushed wedding within the story (because that factoid was so suspicious) and, seeing the political climate at the time, seeing that France was on the brink of yet another civil war, it technically was.

(7) Sadly, I'm very well aware of that law of no female can ever heir the throne. It's very clearly denoted in the history after Henry V died that the Child King Henry VI went over the queen. Creatively, I will FUDGE that, because (1) I'm fairly certain Queen Elizabeth I, being where she was and who she was, wouldn't have liked that to reminded of that little fact, PARTICULARLY in her own court and (2) it's going to be another "creative license" for shits and giggles, but I will notify that fact in the afterword, nonetheless. ;p
georgemiser Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013
I love this story di. ^^ When I saw the name ''Harry Plantagenet'' I thought of Blackadder series 1. then I looked up the hollow crown series on wiki. I must confess I'm not to familiar with the Richard II play, being more of a fan of Richard III. I don't think there's a harry in the show. Is this some kind of alt history thing you have going? :)
tranimation-art Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Professional Filmographer
BBC released a four-part HOLLOW CROWN series of Shakespeare's historical "Henriad" tetralogy in 2012 before the Olympics to celebrate the awesomeness that is Great Britain -- RICHARD II; HENRY IV, Part 1; HENRY IV, Part 2; HENRY V. The latter three starred Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal/Henry V. This particular story takes place at the end of HENRY V. (Of the historical plays, my favourites are HENRY V and RICHARD III.)

It's not an alternate history, but it is historical fiction: Two weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Troyes, Henry V and Katharine of Valois married. For some reason, historians don't know where the ceremony took place and it's a mystery why. You would think historians would know this, it's the wedding of a king, which should be this HUGEEEEE celebration with hundreds of guests, but no one seems to known which church or cathedral it happened in -- if it was (Troyes) Parish Church of St. John or Troyes Cathedral. I figured it was a SMALLLLLL ceremony, if no one remembers it. But later on, a witness said it was a HUGE ceremony, making Henry V as if he was emperor, but it still didn't explain why no one knows which church. It's a mystery. Curious still, the following day after the wedding, Henry V runs off to war campaigns! Accordingly, he was very much in love with this woman, they were extremely fond of each other, but...he leaves her the following morning to wage war against the Armagnacs. Again, WHYYYY? And give my explanation of why, according to my historical research. However, I take into account the MISTAKES the HOLLOW CROWN adaptations (and William Shakespeare himself) have done. Yes, Shakespeare FUDGED a number of historical facts within his plays -- what good writer doesn't?
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