A lie is no less a lie because it is a thousand years old. Your undivided church has liked nothing better than persecuting its own members, burning them and hacking them apart when they stood by their own conscience, slashing their bellies open and feeding their guts to dogs.

God knows, Charpentier said, I like the present scheme of things very little, but I dread to think what will happen if the conduct of reform falls into hands like yours.

In his family the dead were much discussed. He absorbed the content of these conversations and transmuted them into what passed for memory. This serves the purpose. The dead don't come back, to quibble or correct.

You know I'm not a man with whom you can have inconsequential conversations. I cannot split myself into two, one your friend and the other the king's servant.

In this new hall the factions regroup in their old places. Legendre the butcher bawls out a Brissotin: I'll slaughter you! First, says the deputy, have a decree passed to say that I am an ox.

And Louis is weak. Let him give an inch, and some Cromwell will appear.

Once they were young men of esprit, young men of élan. A quarter of a century has passed and they are grey or balding, flabby or paunchy, gone in the fetlock or missing some fingers, but still as arrogant as satraps and with the mental refinement of a gatepost.

Children's lives start long before birth, long before conception, and if they are aborted or miscarried or simply fail to materialise at all, they become ghosts in our lives...The unborn, whether they're named or not, whether or not they're acknowledged, have a way of insisting: a way of making their presence felt.

He is struck by her overview of his situation. It is as if she has understood his life. He is taken by an impulse to clasp her hand and ask her to marry him; even if they did not get on in bed, she seems to have a gift for précis that eludes most of his clerks.

When narratives fracture, when words fail, I take consolation from the part of my life that always works: the stationery order. The mail-order stationery people supply every need from royal blue Quink to a dazzling variety of portable hard drives.

They claim they're living the vita apostolica; but you didn't find the apostles feeling each other's bollocks.

Laclos thought, how about a one-way ticket to Pennsylvania? You'd enjoy life among the Quakers. Alternatively, how about a nice dip in the Seine?

Exactly, he says. And look, Gregory, it's all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it's no good at all if you don't have a plan for tomorrow.

Henry glares at him. I will say this for you. You stick by your man. I have never had anything from the cardinal other than kindness. Why would I not?

God knows our hearts. There is no need for an idle formula or an intermediary. No need for language either: God is beyond translation.

A shock will do it, he said, or strong emotion, strong emotion of any sort. It can be horror. Or disgust. But, then again, it doesn't have to be. Sometimes, he said, people die laughing.

To gentle pressure, King Henry capitulated; the White Rose, aged twenty-four, was taken out into God's light and air, in order to have his head cut off. But there is always another White Rose; the Plantagenets breed, though not unsupervised. There will always.

Men, it is supposed want to pass their wisdom to their sons; he would give a great deal to protect his own son from a quartr of what he knows.

He did not relish the topic; he sensed in Jane Rochford's tone the peculiar cruelty of women. They fight with the poor weapons God has bestowed – spite, guile, skill in deceit – and it is likely that in conversations between themselves they trespass in places where a man would never trust his footing.

It's not easy to speak of nonexistence, even if you've already commissioned your tomb.

He saw that it was the gaps that were important, the spaces between the threads which made the pattern, and not the threads themselves.

Full bellies breed gentle manners. The pinch of famine makes monsters.

He looks down at them and arranges his face. Erasmus says that you must do this each morning before you leave your house: put on a mask, as it were.

The migraine angel leaned hard on my shoulder and belched into my face.

Cravats grow higher, as if they mean to protect the throat. The highest cravats in public life will be worn by Citizen Antoine Saint-Just, of the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety. In the dark and harrowing days of '94, an obscene feminine inversion will appear: a thin crimson ribbon, worn round a bare white neck.

How many men can say, as I must, 'I am a man whose only friend is the King of England'? I have everything, you would think. And yet take Henry away, and I have nothing.

The cardinal used to say, Cromewll will do in a week what will take another man a year, it is not worth your while to block him or oppose him. If you reach out to grip him he will not be there, he will have ridden twenty miles while you are pulling your boots on.

Occam's Razor shaves you closer.

It follows that if you are not a mother you are not a grandmother. Your life has become unpunctuated, whereas the lives of other women around you have these distinct phases.

If all the old stories are to be believed, and some people, let us remember, do believe them, then our king is one part bastard archer, one part hidden serpent, one part Welsh, and all of him in debt to the Italian banks.

This visit has compacted the court's quarrels and intrigues, trapped them in the small space within the town's walls. The travelers have become as intimate with each other as cards in a pack: contiguous, but their paper eyes blind.

I was always desired. But now i am valued. And that is a different thing, i find.

Every monarch needs a blow on the head, from time to time.

Richard goes with a bob of the head but without another word. It seems he interprets 'don't tell anybody' as 'don't tell anybody but Rafe', because ten minutes later Rafe comes in, and stands looking at him, with his eyebrows raised. Red-headed people can look quite strained when they are raising eyebrows that aren't really there.

Sometimes peace looks like war, you cannot tell them apart.

The days of the moneylender have arrived, and the days of the swaggering privateer; banker sits down with banker, and kings are their waiting boys.

A statute is written to entrap meaning, a poem to escape it.

I am very happy in second-hand bookshops; would a gardener not be happy in a garden?

Suppose she denied him then but favored him some other time? Women are weak and easily conquered by flattery. Especially when men write verses to them, and there are some who sat that Wyatt writes better verses than me, though I am the King.

Inside his copy of The Social Contract he keeps a letter from a young Picard, an enthusiast called Antoine Saint-Just: I know you, Robespierre, as I know God, by your works.

Our virtues make us; but virtues are not enough, we must deploy our vices at times.

Henry stirs into life. Do I retain you for what is easy? Jesus pity my simplicity, I have promoted you to a place in this kingdom that no one, no one of your breeding has ever held in the whole of the history of this realm.

Hans nods emphatically, lips pressed together, eyes bright and taunting, like a dog who steals a handkerchief so you will chase.

If he's not watering his ale, he's running illegal beasts on the common, if he's not despoiling the common he's assaulting an officer of the peace, if he's not drunk he's dead drunk, and if he's not dead before his time there's no justice in this world.

I wonder what I've married into, Morgan Williams says. But really, this is just something Morgan says; some men have a habitual sniffle, some women have a headache, and Morgan has this wonder.

Full bellies breed gentle manners. A pinch of famine makes monsters.

I felt, he said, irritated. It seemed a waste, I suppose. To come so far. To cross the sea. To die for . . . He shrugs. God knows why.

History is not the past – it is the method we have evolved of organising our ignorance of the past.

Cardinal Campeggio has implored Katherine to bow to the king's will, accept that her marriage is invalid and retire to a convent. Certainly, she says sweetly, she will become a nun: if the king will become a monk.