A power-hungry courtier and an impressionable young princess: The Tudor court had never been more perilous for the young Elizabeth, where rumors had the power to determine her fate.
England, late 1547. Henry VIII is dead. His 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth is living with the old king's widow Catherine Parr and her new husband Thomas Seymour, the brother of Henry VIII's third wife, the late Jane Seymour, mother to the now-ailing boy King. Ambitious, charming and dangerous, Seymour begins an overt flirtation with Elizabeth that ends in Catherine sending her away. When Catherine dies in autumn 1548 and Seymour is arrested for treason soon after, the scandal explodes into the open. Alone and in dreadful danger, Elizabeth is threatened supporters of her half-sister Mary, who wish to see England return to Catholicism. She is also closely questioned by the king's regency council: Was she still a virgin? Was there a child? Had she promised to marry Seymour? In her replies, Elizabeth shows the shrewdness and spirit she would later be famous for. She survives the scandal. Thomas Seymour is not so lucky. The "Seymour Scandal" led to the creation of the Virgin Queen. On hearing of Seymour's beheading, Elizabeth observed "This day died a man of much wit, and very little judgement." His fate remained with her. She would never allow her heart to rule her head again.
Elizabeth Norton is a historian specializing in the queens of England and the Tudor period. She is the author of several biographies on Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. She lives in England.