“Jolabokaflod” is an Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. The Historical Writers Forum is celebrating this tradition throughout December, with members giving away copies of our books (make sure you’re following our page on Facebook, to read all the blogs, learn about us and our books, and of course, take part in any special offers or giveaways!)
For my turn, I have chosen to give away a copy of Jane the Quene, the first book in my Seymour Saga trilogy. The copy will be paperback if you live in the US, and Kindle or ePub if you live anywhere else (for the paperback, I will be happy to sign it with a message to you or anyone you tell me to).
Here is a taster – a Christmas-related scene from Chapter Four:
December 16, 1535 … 3 p.m.
Cromwell was in the King’s study at Richmond Palace, along with the King and several artisans expert in plate and jewels. Two tables were loaded with magnificent valuables, part of the process of finalizing the Gift Roll, the list of all the presents the King would give during the New Year’s celebration at Greenwich. Every important person at court would give the King a gift and receive one in return. From gilt cups from dukes, to embroidered shirts and crafts from people of lesser ranks, each person would try to enhance their relationship with their sovereign. Then they would analyze the gifts they received to gauge their relative standing with the King.
The King was expected to be generous. It was part of the royal mystique. The people around him benefitted from his openhandedness all year long – small gifts were a constant – but at Christmas time the process was formalized to include everyone in the royal largesse. Cromwell had already prepared a draft with his suggestions, which would get most of the gifts out of the way quickly. The ones for the men mostly involved plate – chalices, flagons, serving pieces – while women, for the most part, received jewels. The size and value of each gift was based primarily on the recipient’s rank, a system that minimized resentment. The King approved every gift, and some he insisted on choosing himself. He also specified their value. Cromwell smiled to himself. The world thought him greedy – everyone blamed him if their gifts weren’t as rich as they’d hoped – but it was all the King, whose ostentatious generosity hid a private parsimony.
“May I suggest these for the Queen?” said the royal jeweler. He held a tray with polished gemstones, including five stunning diamonds mounted into the shape of a heart. “Or perhaps these golden buttons.”
The King shook his head dismissively but leaned forward to examine the tray. With one hand he picked out two heavy gold bracelets with diamonds and pearls, then with the other he selected a fine emerald. “These will be for Mistress Jane,” he said with a broad smile. “But hold them aside; I will give them to her privately.”
Cromwell made a note on his list as a servant came to collect and file the treasures.
Henry pointed to a dish of pearls. “Do you have any a little smaller? I want to give each of the Queen’s ladies three of them to sew into their hoods or dresses. Or perhaps five would be better. Cromwell?”
“Either would be most generous, Your Majesty.”
“If they are small enough, I will make it five. For all seven attendants.”
“Actually eight, Sire, by my list. Unless you are not including Mistress Jane because of her other gifts.”
Henry frowned. “No, I do not want Mistress Jane singled out. Make it four each.” He glanced over at the silversmith who held a tray of serving pieces. “Ah, you, let me see those wine flagons. Yes, that’s more like it. And those carved basins and ewers. Where are the pieces from Sir William Compton’s estate? The gilt plate. The Queen shall have some of those.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Cromwell stifled a smirk. In previous years, the King had poured on the romance with Anne Boleyn. In 1529 he had given her nineteen diamonds for her head, in recognition of how she wove jewels into her long hair when she wanted to make a special impact. He had also given her two bracelets set with ten diamonds and eight pearls; two diamonds on two hearts for her head; twenty-one rubies artfully arranged into gold shaped like a rose; two borders of cloth of gold for the sleeves of a new gown, trimmed with ten diamonds and eight pearls…yet now he gave her plate. Yes, it helped her achieve the magnificence expected from a queen, but it was so much less personal.
Indeed, Henry’s attitude toward Anne Boleyn had altered. Where he had once been the gallant knight completely focused on his lady, he was now the bored husband wanting little to do with his wife. Over-explaining when she asked questions. Offhand where he had once been enthusiastic. Now her fits of pique annoyed him, as well they should. And he spent more time with people who disliked her. A new coalition was forming. Edward Seymour was becoming a confidant of the King, and Seymour’s friends were tagging along. Cromwell, of course, was careful to remain one of those friends. It was not terribly hard. They had a history together after all, and had always been on good terms.
“But those crystal-handled forks – yes, that set – put those aside for Edward Seymour and his wife.”
Seymour was definitely on the rise. Thanks to his sister.
“Oh, and that gold chalice. Cromwell, that is perfect for you.”
Cromwell blinked to avoid showing any reaction. “Sire, I believe that was my gift to you last year.”
Henry’s eyes narrowed and he turned back to the artisan. “Then give that one to the Duke of Norfolk. Find me another one, a larger one, for Cromwell.”
Cromwell bowed. He prayed the gifts would be given together so the good Duke would see that he had been snubbed.
To enter, simply leave a comment below, on the Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop Facebook Page or on my own Facebook page and I will include you in the prize draw. If you already own Jane the Quene, I would be happy to substitute my translation of the nineteenth-century biography I translated, The Six Marriages of Henry VIII – Part One: His Wives.
You have through Tuesday, December 15 to enter!
And don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog hop for more giveaways! (All the authors are wonderful, and there are a few more Tudor-focused ones in the mix!)
Dec 4th Alex Marchant; Dec 5th Cathie Dunn; Dec 6th Jennifer C Wilson; Dec 8th Danielle Apple; Dec 9th Angela Rigley; Dec 10th Christine Hancock; Dec 12th Janet Wertman; Dec 13th Vanessa Couchman; Dec 14th Sue Barnard; Dec 15th Wendy J Dunn; Dec 16th Margaret Skea; Dec 17th Nancy Jardine; Dec 18th Tim Hodkinson; Dec 19th Salina Baker; Dec 20th Paula Lofting; Dec 21st Nicky Moxey; Dec 22nd Samantha Wilcoxson; Dec 23rd Jen Black; 24th Lynn Bryant
I would like to enter your give away. I am not on Facebook so believe I can submit here? hope so. Thank you.
You’re in! Good luck!
This sound fascinating, Janet. I love the Tudors – it’s such a colourful period of history.
Enjoyed the excerpt for today. The King a re-gifter! So like him 🙂
Hah! Wonderful! And I read somewhere that Henry always profited from the gift exchange at Christmas 🙂
Another Tudor story! So glad I saw this, Jane!