Book Review: “The Bastard Princess” by G. Lawrence

Jane Seymour (21)

After much time on the back-burner I was able to read this wonderful book – Book One, of the Elizabeth of England Chronicle by Gemma Lawrence: The Bastard Princess.

I’m always interested in reading books about Elizabeth’s early years since it helps me see other writer’s view-point on her relationship with Thomas Seymour and her mother. This book did not disappoint.


Book Summary:

February, 1603? In Richmond Palace, London, the last Queen of the Tudor dynasty, Elizabeth I, is dying. As Death hovers at her elbow, waiting for her to obey his call, the aged Queen looks back on her life, and on the trials, victories and sorrows which brought her eventually, to the throne of England. Not quite three years old when her mother, the notorious Queen Anne Boleyn, was arrested and executed on charges of adultery and treason, Elizabeth became a true princess of the Tudor era, in a time when the balance of power, politics and passion were fragile? and the cost of failure was death. Her childhood and teenaged years were fraught with danger as competing factions and ideologies sought to undermine and destroy her in the bid for power at the Tudor court. This is the story of Elizabeth Tudor, last daughter of Henry VIII, and her journey to the throne of England. Told from her own mouth? the tale of the Bastard Princess, who would, one day, become England?s greatest Queen.

My Review:

The life of Elizabeth Tudor, whether she was Princess Elizabeth or Lady Elizabeth was often filled with drama. But with that drama she always had someone in her inner circle whom she felt she could trust completely.

Of the women whom she felt she could trust the most were her step-mother, Katherine Parr and her governess, Kat Ashley. As it turns out in this story, both of those women would ultimately abandon the young Elizabeth for their own reasons and in their own ways. Katherine, to save her marriage and to stop any rumors from getting out and Kat Ashley, who when being interrogated implied that Elizabeth may have done things that were unsavory, if given the chance.

There are two things about Elizabeth’s life that always get my attention and leave me wanting more.

1. How Elizabeth did feel about her mother?

2. What happened between her and Thomas Seymour?

In this book we get those questions answered. Kat Ashley, being the one closest to Elizabeth, was able to shed light on Anne Boleyn for Elizabeth while Katherine Parr could sneak her the best gift she could ever receive of her mother’s.

Then there is the relationship between Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour. I’ve always subscribed to the theory that nothing inappropriate happened between the two, even though there were confessions made by Kat Ashley to say otherwise. This part of the story pulled me in. What can I say, I’m a woman who likes a romantic story line when ‘the forbidden fruit’ is tasted.

I felt like the author did a very tasteful job of explaining the emotions of a teenage Elizabeth. It reminded me a lot of when I was a teenager, first feeling new emotions for a man and how those feelings can lead to an obsession,?wanting to always be near that person.

The book begins at the end of Elizabeth’s life and then reverts back to late April 1536 and ends in late 1553 when her sister became the first Queen Regnant and Elizabeth heir to the throne.


In conclusion, I’d rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. The story line pulled me in and left me frantically flipping pages to find out what was going to happen next. There were only a couple of areas where I lost interest, but in all fairness I tend to get that way with Elizabeth’s story anyway. If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Tudor I would highly recommend reading this book. At 302 pages it really does not take that long to read. I am looking forward to starting Book Two, The Heretic Heir.

Interested in buying this book?

Amazon – US orAmazon – UK

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Kept from the King


At some point, during Edward’s last illness, Princess Elizabeth sent the King the following letter, however, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland made sure the letter never reached her brother. This is noteworthy because it shows that Elizabeth had attempted to visit her brother, but had been stopped on her way there, and sent back:

PRINCESS ELIZABETH TO KING EDWARD VI. [Ellis’s ” Original Letters.” From the Harleian MSS.]

Like as a shipman in stormy weather plucks down the sails tarrying for better wind, so did I, most noble King, in my unfortunate chance on Thursday, pluck down the high sails of my joy and comfort, and do trust one day that, as troublesome waves have repulsed me backward, so a gentle wind will bring me forward to my haven. Two chief occasions moved me much and grieved me greatly, the one for that I doubted your Majesty’s health the other, because for all my long tarrying I went without that I came for. Of the first I am relieved in a part, both that I understood of your health, and also that your Majesty’s lodging is far from my lord Marquis’s chamber. Of my other grief I am not eased, but the best is that whatsoever other folks will suspect, I intend not to fear your Grace’s good will, which as I know that I never deserved to forfeit, so I trust will still stick by me. For if your Grace’s advice that I should return (whose will is a commandment) had not been, I would not have made the half of my way the end of my journey. And thus, as one desirous to hear of your Majesty’s health, though unfortunate to see it, I shall pray God for ever to preserve you.

From Hatfield, this present Saturday.

Your Majesty’s humble sister to commandment,


It appears that John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, played his cards so well that not only did he succeed in estranging the dying Edward VI from his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, but that he also persuaded the young King to alter the line of succession in favor of his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey and married his son, Guildford Dudley to the ill-fated Grey. What men would not do for power….


Source of Letter:

The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth – A Narrative in contemporary letters; by Frank A. Mumby

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Elizabeth: To Honor Thy Father

Elizabeth- To Honor Thy Father

Honor Thy Father:

After being proposed to by Thomas Seymour and rejecting his request, Elizabeth must have felt torn. It appears she would have accepted the proposal had it not been so soon after her father, Henry VIII’s death. There was, of course, a required mourning period and Elizabeth intended on honoring her father properly.

On the other-hand, Elizabeth’s step-mother, Katherine Parr didn’t appear to worry about honoring her late husband the way any queen consort was expected to. Less than six months after the death of the king, Katherine had married without consent of the Council.

While reading this letter that Elizabeth wrote to her sister Mary, I wonder if Elizabeth is more upset that her dear step-mother married the man that she wished to marry but could not since she was still in mourning. My impression of Elizabeth during this time is that she indeed had a crush on Seymour but understand her duty as the daughter of the late king – she needed to be in mourning, just as Katherine Parr should have been. Elizabeth followed the rules while Katherine Parr followed her heart.

Letter dated 1547 – would have been sometime after May of that year:

Princess, and very dear sister,

You are very right in saying, in your most acceptable letters, which you have done me the honour of writing to me, that, our interests being common, the just grief we feel in seeing the ashes, or rather the scarcely cold body of the king, our father, so shamefully dishonoured by the queen, our step-mother, ought to be common to us also. I cannot express to you my dear princess, how much affliction I suffered when I was first informed of this marriage, and no other comfort can I find than that of the necessity of submitting ourselves to the decrees of Heaven; since neither you nor I, dearest sister, are in such a condition as to offer any obstacle thereto, without running heavy risk of making our own lot much worse than it is; at least, so I think. We have to deal with too powerful a party, who have got all authority into their hands, while we, deprived of power, cut a very poor figure at court. I think, then that the best course we can take is that of dissimulation, that the mortification may fall upon those who commit the fault. For we may rest assured that the memory of the king, our father, being so glorious in itself, cannot be subject to those stains which can only defile the person who have wrought them. Let us console ourselves by making the best of what we cannot remedy. If our silence do us no honour, at least it will not draw down upon us disasters as our lamentations might induce.

These are my sentiments, which the little reason I have dictates, and which guides my respectful reply to your agreeable letter. With regard to the returning of visits, I do not see that you, who are the elder are obliged to this; but the position in which I stand obliges me to take other measures; the queen having shown me so great affection, and done me so many kind offices, that I must use much tact in maneuvering with her, for fear of appearing ungrateful for her benefits. I shall not, however, be in any hurry to visit her, lest I should be charged with approving what I ought to censure.

However, I shall always pay much deference to your instructions and commands, in all which you shall think convenient or serviceable to your highness’ sister.

Elizabeth- To Honor Thy Father (1)

Elizabeth Tudor: Artist – Unknown; Formerly attributed to William Scrots (fl. 1537–1554)
Thomas Seymour: Artist – Nicholas Denizot; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Mary Tudor: Artist – Master John; © National Portrait Gallery, London; NPG 428
Katherine Parr: Artist – Unknown; The Melton Constable or Hastings portrait of Queen Katherine


“Letters of royal and illustrious ladies of Great Britain, from the commencement of the twelfth century to the close of the reign of Queen Mary”; by [Green], Mary Anne Everett (Wood), Mrs., 1818-1895, [from old catalog] ed; Published 1846 (Volume III)

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Birth Announcement of Queen Elizabeth I

Translation courtesy of


By the Queen [Anne Boleyn]

Right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And whereas it hath pleased the goodness of Almighty God of His infinite mercy and grace to send unto us at this time good speed in the deliverance and bringing forth of a princess to the great joy and inward comfort of my Lord, us, and of all his good and loving subjects of this his realm, for which inestimable benevolence so shown unto us we have no little cause to give high thanks, laud and praise unto our said Maker, like as we do most lowly, humbly, and with all the inward desire of our heart. And inasmuch as we undoubtedly trust that this our good speed is to your great pleasure, comfort and consolation, we therefore by this our letters advertise you thereof, desiring and heartily praying you to give with us unto Almighty God high thanks, glory, laud and praise, and to pray for the good health, prosperity, and continual preservation of the said Princess accordingly. Given under our signet at my lords’ Manor of Greenwich. The 7th day of September, in the 25th year of my said lord’s Reign.

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