“Your Majesty, this is no place for a woman!” cried the king’s groom hastily as Catherine arrived in Meaux, a town twenty-five east and northeast of Paris.
“I am daughter of King Charles The Sixth and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria. I, not you, am perfectly safe in France,” declared the queen matter-of-factly.
Dressed down, the groom lowered his eyes, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“You will take me to my husband,” commanded the queen. Bowing, the groom took the reins of Catherine’s horse and led her close to Henry’s royal pavilion, helping the queen down off her horse. Catherine nodded and handed him a shilling before entering.
As Catherine’s eyes adjusted to the low light, she found Henry bent over a map and battle plans. Henry looked up with surprise, “Catherine?”
“What you brings you here? I thought you were staying in London.”
“I had a dream. The blessed mother came to me and warned me you would not survive this siege.”
Henry stopped what he was doing and rushed to her, embracing her warmly and kissing her tenderly, “I am fine, Catherine! I could not be better now that you are here! Look, the siege is at an end! I can march on Paris any day now!”
“Why do this, Henry?! You have the crown of France as soon as my father dies.”
“Do I have the crown in truth, Catherine? The moment I go back to London your darling little brother Charles will declare himself king of France and all this will be for nothing!” scowled Henry.
“Perhaps that should tell you something, Henry. This is a war you can fight – but never win. All it can do is give popular support to Charles’ cause. How can you not see that?”
“Do you wish to see your father?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“It is a question, now answer it plainly. I have little time for your courtly games.”
Catherine eyed him, “I will not enter Paris unless you do. Which is to say I do not expect to see it again.”
“Faithless creature, aren’t you?”
“Hardly. I know where my home is – and who my allies are. My mother taught me well.”
“Women!” exclaimed Henry with frustration. “You all think you rule the world and all the men in it!”
“Pardonnez-moi, Henri roi d’Angleterre – but who started this war and who is fighting it? Not one woman was consulted in this. No, Henry of England – this is your war.”
Henry collapsed into a chair, “Must we fight again, Kate?”
“Must you war with France?”
Exhaustion filled Henry’s eyes “Old argument!”
Catherine sat down beside him, “You have not asked me about our son.”
“You are right. Bad manners as usual, I suppose. Too much soldier, not enough king. Good King Richard II, to whom I believe one of your sisters was once wedded and whose crown my father took from him – now that was a king with proper manners. He knew how to keep a court, though of course not his throne,” observed Henry. “Catherine – unlike you, I was not born to this. I was not born royal. Granted I embrace it more than any born to it has, but can you not understand me in this? I have spent most of my life at war, fighting someone or another, first on behalf of my father and now all of this.”
“So since this is all you have ever known, you feel you must continue it until it kills you?”
“Perhaps,” conceded Henry.
“Then you doom Henry to grow up without his father, maybe to never even meet him.”
“I would like to hold him, Catherine.”
“He is waiting in London for you. All you have to do is leave all of this. Let the Treaty of Troyes stand – no more bloodshed.” Just then Henry grimaced. “What is it?”
“I know you better than that, Henry. What is it?” repeated Catherine.
“My stomach hurts – a sudden stabbing cramp. I am sure it is nothing.”
“Well perhaps you should lay down, Henry.”
Henry stroked her face gently, “Perhaps you are right.”
Excerpted from "Catherine de Valois: French Princess, Tudor Matriarch (The Legendary Women of World History Book 2)" by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Copyright © 2014 by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.