Tudor historian Norton (The Tudor Miscellany, 2014, etc.) looks at Henry VIII’s daughter and widow, but the real story here is Thomas Seymour.
Thomas was the brother of Henry’s third wife, Jane. As uncle to the king, he felt he should have a much more important place, both in the Parliament and in the young king’s care. Machinations were the key to just about everything during the reign of the Tudors; spying, plotting, and backstabbing were the norm. Thomas, who had wooed Catherine Parr before she married Henry, quickly picked up their romance when she was widowed; in fact, they were married just over a month after the king’s death. Thomas hoped his marriage might give him more authority as he sought the governance of the young king, his wife’s stepson. His brother Edward gained increasing amounts of power and made him Lord High Admiral as a concession. Before Parr, he had sued for the hands of both Elizabeth and Mary Tudor, both in the line of succession. Elizabeth’s closest attendant, Katherine Ashley, inexplicably decided that the teenager no longer needed a protective woman sleeping near her bed. That left Elizabeth exposed to Thomas’ morning ritual of entering half-dressed and playing a little “slap and tickle” with the future queen. Whether Elizabeth enjoyed it or whether Catherine might even have cooperated in the game are left to the imagination. “When she was a teenager,” writes the author, “there was one man who had caught her fancy enough to tempt her to abandon herself to him. The Virgin Queen was born out of the ashes of his fall.” Regardless, Catherine, six months pregnant, caught the couple in an embrace and sent Elizabeth packing. The author tells of rumors of Elizabeth’s “illness” that summer, hinting at pregnancy.
Juicy royal history that may or may not be true. Either way, the story of Thomas’ comeuppance and Elizabeth’s reaction makes for a quick, enjoyable read.