How is this possible? Personally, I never imagined that anything like this was even a possibility. It was so cruel. As I sit here in my soft blue blouse and my simple white skirt waiting for my husband to return from his trip, I scream in frustration at what has happened.
Oh, my husband? I guess you are confused and maybe I should explain.
Everyone has their paths set in life. We all must follow our preordained plan set by our divine lord. Some lives are different than others. Most people follow them and never question the reason. Most never have to. A select few live in lavish wealth while most are comfortable enough with their lives and thank the Lord for what little they have been given.
A select unfortunate few have their lives take drastic turns they never expected. They never should have had to expect having so much heeped upon them. For those unfortunate few, we do question the reason we were chosen to endure so much misery and suffering. I try to figure out what I did or how I have displeased the lord. I was faithful to his word. I can not figure it out.
I was the son of Lady Jane. I was very proud of what my mother had accomplished in so short of a time. Most wouldn’t have even guessed I was her son. I was sixteen and she was nineteen. No she didn’t have me when she was three. I came from her husbands side, in fact they adopted me when I was very young. For most of my life, my mother was like a very compassionate older sister who cared for me.
I was so proud of her coronation. She did not want to be the queen of England. Her desire was much like my own, peace, quite and family. The king was a sickly teenager who was dying on the throne and in his last will, he chose my mother to be the queen. She had to be persuaded to accept the crown. That was me.
She was very reluctant and wanted to let her half sister accept the crown. I begged her, “Please, Mother. You are so far more worthy than Mary. You are much smarter, stronger and can do so much for the women of the Kingdom. You have to do this, for them. “
She was still reluctant, “No. I am not fit and I never wanted power and dominion over others. What makes me so worthy?”
I stood up and said, “Because you know all of this. You do not want power. Your sister wants power and imagine what she will do with it? She will unleash a bloodbath upon the kingdoms Protestants. You are one of the most educated women of the Kingdom. Don’t let your half sister get the crown.”
She finally relented and signed the papers accepting it. That was one of the proudest moments of my life as I watched her accept the praises, the priests accepting her as their new queen. I saw them lower the crown on her head and her address to her new subjects. I was so happy.
The only problem was her sister Mary. My mother didn’t imprison her, she was far too nice. Mary tried to be civil as she confronted my mother. Trying to get her to abdicate in her favor. The counsel and Mary’s own consoler’s were behind her as she was trying to bully my mother into giving the throne to her. “Sister, you know how this will end. I am getting more support, you have very little. The kingdoms Catholics wont tolerate you here for long. If you give up now, I might just spare your life in the end. If you force my hand then I will have no mercy.”
I could see my mother show fear in her eyes. It was almost as if she was afraid of Mary. I got up there to support my mother, “Mother do not let this slime bully you. You aare queen and you are the law here. You and I both know that Mary is cruel and heartless. You are far wiser and stronger than she is so Please don’t back down. “
Then I stared into Marys eyes and told her, “You will never have the throne. You are unworthy of it. Go back to Spain because we will never welcome you here. Go back to your idiot husband in Madrid.”
I saw her face turn into shade of red almost as deep as her scarlet robe she had on. She gave me that look of hate women give men. I almost cringed as she stormed off. I had a feeling that she wouldn’t let this stand and I was afraid that I may has just made an enemy of a very powerful woman. A woman who just might take delight on putting my head on executioners chopping block.
My mother was charismatic and she attempted to enact much needed social change for the kingdoms women. The only problem was that the nation was not yet ready for it. That caused many of the nobles to turn against her. In the period of only a week of my mothers new changes, the council and the barons had turned against my mother. They gave support to Mary. Within only 9 days, they named Mary the queen and took my mother off the throne.
I was talking to my mother trying to comfort her when soldiers busted though the door of her palace, followed by Queen Mary who gave me a hateful sneer as they put chains on my mother and drug her out. That was followed by soldiers capturing me and putting chains on my arms and legs and dragging me out. We were put in a cart and taken to the tower of London. I would never see my mother again.
I didn’t see her, hear of her. I was stuck alone in a dark cell. I spent my time praying and hoping some reprieve. I knew it would never come. My sense told me I was a dead man. I had pissed off Mary Tudor and she was now Queen with ultimate power. My head was going to roll.
Time seemed to get lost when you spend enough time in a lonely cold cell. Its hard to know the day or the month. I was fed, I got water regularly but except for that, there was nothing. I slept, prayed and ate. Occasionally I would use the chamber pot in my cell. The queen came to visit me one day, she said I might be forgiven if I converted my faith to catholic. I said there was no way. She was sorry and left.
I head shouts outside of my cell one day. There was some rebellion to free us. It was a protestant rebellion they called wyats revolt. That pretty much sealed our fate and I wondered what took them so long to get around to executing us.
The queen came into my cell with a smirk on her face and said, “We have executed your mother. You could be next. Think about that.” Then she left and I went down and cried. I knew it was coming but it was still painful to hear those words.
I lost time again as the months and days past. I wondered why my head wasn’t going on the block. Then, the Queen and her guards came back into my cell and I knew it was coming. I asked her, “What is taking so long, Have you lost the executioners ax?”
She sneered at me. Then she said the last thing I would have expected. “I am considering sparing your life. Do you want to live?”
“Not really. I want to go to my mother.“ I told her. That was my desire, to go be in the comfort of my mothers arms.
She said, “That can be arranged. Would you rather live? I can spare your life, James. You can live freely in comfort if you want it.”
I thought it over and said, “Yes. You have conditions don’t you?“
She smiled and it made me afraid. “Yes. Here’s my offer. You can live the rest of your life as a woman. Or these soldiers will take you straight to the executioners block. Make your choice now.”
I thought it over. I could not believe this. Had Mary gone mad? Here was this queen, her power rests on the fact that she is a fanatical catholic. She had spent her entire reign burning protestants at the stake. She holds a bible and she is here telling me she wants me to change my sex. My sex that GOD has determined for me. That’s blasphemy. I looked her in the eye and told her, “Isn’t that against gods law? Changing my sex? How can you suggest such a blasphemous sin against our lords creation?”
She simply said,” I’m the queen ordained by god. Nothing from my mouth is sinful. You humiliated me in front of the Privy Council and my own people. I want to see you humiliated for the rest of your life. Now make your choice, do you want to live?”
I looked down, ashamed at the words coming from my mouth. “Yes Queen, I accept your offer and I will live as a woman.”
Her smile was most sinister. “Excellent. You have lived in this cell for a year and two months.“ She then yelled out some orders and the soldiers took me, carried me out of the cell and delivered me into a new carriage. I still had my chains attached to my arms as the horses took me across the town. It stopped around an hour later in front of a large manor house. I was taken out by the soldiers and delivered into the hands of a few women who lived there.
The oldest look about Marys age. She was tall and have a very intimidating demeanor to her. The soldiers left and the woman shouted, “James, I am Madan Jeanette and me and my attendants here will train you in everything you need to know to live as a woman. I dare say it’s an odd request but it’s the queens orders and she has set this facility up for you. There will be no escape until you have learned and we release you. Do you understand so far?”
I whispered, “Yes Madam.”
“Good,” She said harshly. “If you displease us in any way, you will be chained to the whipping post and flogged. Now take off your male clothing immediately.”
She was holding the flogger in her hand. I quickly removed my clothes in front of the women.
They looked at my nude body. Jeanette then said, “You are not a man anymore. You are now a woman named Isabella. That will be how we address you, either as Lady or Isabella. Now will be your first experience of womanhood.” I was knocked out from behind.
I do not know how long I was out for. I woke up in some pain. I noticed that I had been castrated, my entire penis and scrotum had been removed. I had been emasculated by the queens orders. It had been expected and I was left alone in my new bed for a few days. I looked around my new bedroom. The windows were barred, the doors locked shut. The entire room was pink. I had pink feather blankets. The entire bed was pink with a floral design. I had makeup and large gowns and corsets in the closet. Nothing was male at all. Did I expect anything different? I had agreed to live a woman. I was Isabella? I guess I can get used to being Isabella. I examined the pantaloons. They were soft, pink and very silky.
There were the petticoats for me, The partlet ruffles and top. That was just a soft undertop that parted in the middle to show cleavage for unmarried women. It had ruffles flowing out from the collar. And finally, There was the petticoat wheel. It was a drum like construction that was worn on the waist falling to the floor. There were my bodices, overskirts, stomachers that were a front piece of a gown worn over my bodice. There were my kirtles. I had quite a womans wardrobe. I felt utterly humiliated looking at what I was expected to wear.
I laid in my pink bed and tried to get some sleep. I thought back to my mother and wondered with tears flowing down my face when I would see her again. That was my greatest desire, to be in my mothers arms again. To see her, be with her. She was dead now and I wanted to be also, so I could be with my mother. Life had turned into a hell. I had to survive until the lord chose the right time for me. I could not chose it for him. That was blasphemous.
I was woken up very early to begin my training as a woman. It began very rigous. I had to stand still as the women wrapped a steel boned ridged corset on me. I cried out after a few minutes of lacing it too tight. Jeanette slapped me yelling, “Shut it, Isabella. This is just the beginning of corset figure training. Within the coming months it will be an inch tighter.“
I cried out, “Yes madam”
Then I was instructed how to dress myself as a woman. They laid out a lace partlet, a matching bodice and a petticoat. I carefully put them on myself and then the petticoat drum and the petticoat itself.
Jeanette yelled and had me remove them. I was chained over the whipping post and she lashed my bare back ten times. I cried out and bleeding down my back.
I was led back to the clothes and she instructed me again and told me to do it right this time. I followed her instructions more carefully. She gave me an approving smile. She told me it was time for me to learn about makeup.
I got a whipping a few more times but near the end of the day, I had almost mastered the art of makeup.
That year was the most rigorous as I learn all about how to conduct myself as a woman in English society. I was so happy at the end of the year when Jeanette told me that I was free to go. “You are now a woman, Isabella. You have learned all we can teach you and now, you may go free.”
The doors were unlocked and I was allowed to walk out a free woman.
If I only knew that there was no freedom. Sure, I could go as I pleased but there was a very harsh lesson in store for me. I tried to buy food but I realized I didn’t have any money. I tried to find a place to stay but again, no money.
I tried various stores and jobs but they would not hire a woman. I even tried to enlist in the navy but I was laughed at. Days went by as I ate what ever I could find and stayed at any place that was available.
I was told one important thing, “Isabella,” One man asked me as I became desperate for some means of supporting myself. “Don’t you have a husband? Its his job to provide for you.”
I realized that I had to marry a husband. I could not legally make an income, own any property. The queen had told me if I needed anything to come and ask her. I went back to the queens castle and made an appointment.
I walked into her regal presence. She was sitting on her throne with that vindictive sneer of hers. She had not yet forgiven me. “I know why you have asked for me. You are now a woman and have learned that a woman can not support herself in our society alone. Ask me what you want.”
I looked down ashamed at this final humiliating request. It was her job to do this. I found out after my mothers execution, she had adopted me into the Tudor family. She was my mother and as my mother, she had the job to find a husband for me.
“Mother, I need a husband. Can you find a husband for me?” I said almost crying.
She smiled and said, “Of course. I have already arranged it, seeing that you would come ask me soon. Say Hello to your fiancé, the Duke of York. Duke Renald Seymore. He knows about your changed status and has accepted the engagement to you, Isabella.“
I looked over at the tall powerful man as he walked in. He greeted me and kissed my hand. I cringed.
The days went by quickly as Mary Tudor set up the wedding and arranging the guests and everything. I was isolated and being prepared for my wedding.
The bridesmaids helped me put on the most lavish wedding dress. It trailed behind me for feet. We were married in Saint Paul’s cathedral. It was one of the tallest and most massive structures in Europe at the time. Its tall steeple jutted into the sky 100s of feet in the air. I was walked down the aisle by my adopted mother queen Mary Tudor to meet my new husband. The priest red the vows, we recited them saying I do. I accepted his ring on my finger and let him kiss me. I almost cried as he did that.
Then, we was husband and wife. I legally belonged to him, my identity, my property if I had any, my sexuality and my body was his. That was what being a woman in England at this time meant. That was what my actual mother was trying to change. And that was why they didn’t let her remain queen for very long.
We went back and I moved over to the city of York to live with my husband in his castle. He took me to his bed and had sex with me. I was forced over his bed, and he held me down as he entered me. It was the most degrading experiences in my life. I felt very violated. I cried the entire time he was doing it. It was his right as my husband and he had to consummate the wedding. He violated me another 2 times that night.
Our marriage wasn’t a happy one by any means. I hated him but what choice did I have? He kept me locked in his castle and used me at will. He often left for business or to conduct military affairs and his guards kept watch over me and wouldn’t let me leave. Where would I go anyway? Who would I tell? Why would I tell anyone that I was a cross dressed feminized man with a husband? If anyone would believe that, what would they do to me then? Images of being interrogated by the inquisitor as I was told to confess my heresy flashed before my eyes. My very life had become a blasphemous sin.
Luckily, the marriage didn’t last long. He was killed during one of his military drills. I was freed and I had a large portion of his wealth. I also received some good news after a while. Queen Mary was sick. They didn’t know what would happen so I raced back to London hoping I could arrange her half sister Elizabeth to ascend the throne. I was offered the throne. By this time no one knew I was a man anymore. As the daughter of Queen Mary Tudor, I Elisabeth Tudor should take her place. As I said before, I did not want dominion over others. I wanted peace and quite in my life. I used what little influence I had to arrange the counsel to offer the crown to Elizabeth. She gratefully accepted and I watched her crowned Queen. That was my second happiest time of my life. She started with so much promise. She quickly had all of Marys priests and counselors executed. I guess it was needed.
Her next move was to proclaim England a protestant nation and set up the church of England. Sadly, one thing I disagreed with was that it was almost all but illegal to be a catholic. The nations Catholics were cowered in terror. Priests began being hunted and executed. Families of catholic priests built hiding places in their houses to hide from the soldiers that would raid their houses hunting for them. They were called priest holes. I guess that too was needed, considering the coming conflict with Spain.
That came soon enough. About 10 years later, we were told Spain had declared war on us. They were sending over a 100 ships loaded down with 35000 soldiers from Spain and Flanders to invade us. I enlisted in the navy hoping I could do something. I got my name James back and did my best to return to a male life. I am known as James Gray, son of Jane Gray.
I finally was about to get my wish. At this moment, I’m the only one on this ship headed toward the lead galleon of the Spanish armada. I set the ship on fire intending to ram right into the fleet hoping to set at least a few ships from the great armada ablaze. I intend to die. After all I suffered, it’s a release. I’m finally about to be in the arms of my mother.