Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Tricks and Treats of Court Shenanigans--Then And Now

We both adore and abhor the campaign season.  The onslaught of TV ads for and against your political choice can be overwhelming. After 30 seconds of promises and denials you are often left wondering exactly what is true. Like is Hillary Clinton actually going to run for President or not?  When will we ever know?

While Americans like to believe we found a new way of running the political machine back in 1776 by dissing the antiquated monarchies of old, how different are the machinations of daily life when we are talking about the negotiations that take place in the Capitol vs. court life? Does anybody tell the truth now? Did they back then?

Don't you believe it. Instead of showing one's hand and heart, it has always been wiser to be the one holding the rabbit in the hat. Perhaps there is no better example of a monarch who enjoyed the art of manipulation more than Henry VIII. 

He desired Anne Boleyn, so much so he managed to trick the Church into annulling his marriage of 24 years to Catherine. It was more than a sleight of hand to persuade his court and the commoners to put aside their adoration of their pious Queen Catherine and take to the young and bawdy Queen Anne.  He did succeed--such was his powerful charisma. However, all that mattered little when Henry grew tired of Anne and talked his court into executing her on the grounds of adultery, incest and treason.  How much of those charges were true? What was false? What did it matter once he married his next wife Jane Seymour, who bore him a little son.

The fact is, those in power have only ever had one goal in life--more power. To climb higher, hold others in sway and elicit the trust of those who have the ability to raise them further up the political ladder, or toss them into the pit of despair.

By the time Henry VIII had married his fifth wife, his court was filled with the paranoia that only a whimsical man with the power of the chopping block can hold.  All the while, the great families of Europe rode a roller coaster hoping that this time as he stepped before the bishop, his tricks regarding his wives would only result in treats for them.

It simply doesn't matter whether you are discussing the next campaign for President or the power struggles associated with the history of Europe, there have always been and shall be some tricky people attempting to wrangle our beliefs when it comes to those in the most powerful positions.  Perhaps that is part of our fascination with the political process--it's a puzzle and we cannot help but try to see past the smoke screen.

S.D. Grady is celebrating the release of her latest novel "The King's Mistress."

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