Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary

At Austin Friars, the Cromwell household is awakened by a knock on the door. William Brereton of the king’s privy chamber is there with an armed escort. Thomas Cromwell’s first thought is that they have come to arrest him. His family comes downstairs in their nightgowns. Cromwell is reminded of his daughters looking just like that on the night their mother died.

Brereton tells Cromwell that he is to be escorted to the king at Greenwich. His clerk Rafe Sadler, his nephew Richard Cromwell, and his son Gregory accompany him. Cromwell is rowed up the Thames River in the black of night, making him think of the River Styx and the journey to Hades.

Cromwell is escorted alone into the king’s bed chamber. He smells cinnamon, which makes him at first think that Cardinal Wolsey is there since Wolsey used to carry an orange filled with spices when he walked through a crowd of the common people. But it is Thomas Cranmer who is present.

The king tells Cromwell that he dreamed that his brother Arthur appeared to him just as he remembered him at the time before his death, although surrounded by a white fire. The king is troubled that he never saw his brother dead. Cranmer calms his fears, telling him that the dead do not come back to complain of their burial. King Henry is not convinced and is still troubled, but Cranmer tells him that it was only an image. Henry feels that his brother came to judge him for being in his place and using his wife. Cranmer assures him that although the marriage was a sin, God is merciful.

Cromwell interrupts and asks the king what Arthur’s tomb said. Henry replies that it said “The former king is the future king,” which was the prophecy of the legendary King Arthur’s return. This, Cromwell tells him, was his father’s way of making sure that a prince would come out of Wales to claim King Arthur’s ancient right. This vision of the king’s brother Arthur was a message that Henry has now taken his place and that he must become the king that his brother would have been. Since Arthur Tudor could not fulfill King Arthur’s prophecy, it is up to King Henry the Eighth to do so.

Henry wonders why his brother’s spirit has come now, twenty years after Henry took the throne. Cromwell is tempted to say that it is a sign that Henry needs to grow up, but he refrains.

On the last day of 1530, Thomas Cromwell is sworn in as the king’s councilor. Thomas More reads the oath, although he is in tears at the recent death of his father. Cromwell thinks back to the day when York Place was wrecked as Cardinal Wolsey began his exile.