Lady Aleydis de ZwaanCanon or Original:
originalDate of Birth:
February 17, 1510Age:
23Title, Occupation, or Both:
Duchess of BrabantSpouse:
Lord Johannes de Zwaan and Lady Katelijne de Leeuw Siblings:
n/aOther Important Relatives:
Aleydis is 5'4” and 115 lbs, with fair skin, long blonde hair, and light blue eyesFace Claim:
Aleydis de Leeuw came into the world on a quiet and cold snowy morning. The beautiful day was not enough to ease the sorrow in the hearts of her parents, Lord Johannes de Leeuw and his wife Katelijne. Their other three children had died in infancy, the oldest only surviving until the age of two. Although they loved their new daughter, they were afraid to care for her too much ... in case that she, too, would leave them bereft.
Left mostly in the care of servants, the little girl thrived and showed no sign of the frailty her brothers and sister had exhibited. After she had passed her second birthday, her parents began showering her with affection, believing that at last they had been blessed with a child that would not leave them too soon. They doted on their precious daughter and gave her anything her little heart desired.
Little Aleydis was a delightful child … highly intelligent, lively, curious about the world around her, and pleasing to look upon, albeit more than a trifle spoiled. She had both a temper and a mean streak, and sometimes threw fits when she did not get her way. The little girl was also not above blaming servants or companions for trouble that she caused herself. She didn't even feel bad when they were punished because of it. In her opinion, it was better them than her.
Her father was Lord Chancellor of the Duke of Brabant, and while Aleydis spent her early years at Breda Castle where she was born, he brought her to Antwerp, the capital of the Duchy and the place where the court was held, when she was six. There she received an excellent education and learned the ways and manners of Court.
Lord de Leeuw had a good reason for wanting her there. For political advantage, he had already secured a marriage arrangement with Flanders. Aleydis was betrothed to Baldwin, son of the Count of Flanders, to be married when they were both twenty-one. The two were introduced to each other, and got along quite well, as young children usually do. They fought occasionally, though, for they were both strong-willed and stubborn.
When she was thirteen, Aleydis' beauty burst into full bloom. With long blonde hair, vivid blue eyes, and a figure that already showed promise, she was truly a fair sight to behold. Boys and men started paying her much attention, and it wasn't long before Aleydis learned how to use her beauty, grace and charm to her advantage.
Her looks gave her power, and Aleydis loved power.
Vivacious, free-spirited and fun. Aleydis became quite popular at Court among both men and women, young and old. She had a natural affinity for languages and became fluent in quite a few ... often translating for those who would otherwise be unable to speak together. Profuse compliments and perfect words always spilled from her full, pouty lips, although everything she said and did was carefully crafted to be beneficial to her. She learned her way around politically as well. She knew what to say and when to say it … and understood when it was prudent to keep her opinions to herself. The young woman also cultivated an image of low intelligence. People were more inclined to divulge information to those who were not smart enough to do anything with it.
As she grew older, she became quite adept at manipulating others in order to get her way. She did this in such a natural, innocent manner, most people did not realize they are being manipulated until it was too late. Unusually cunning for one so young, Aleydis could be quite ruthless when someone stood in the way of something she desired.
And one thing she desired was to get out of her betrothal to the odious Baldwin, who she considered “one step above being a boar.” His unhealthy fascination with food had made him fat, and he wasn't very handsome either. Not only that, but he had grown into a pious, pompous fool who had an extremely narrow view of both women and marriage. He even expected his wife to come to his marriage bed a virgin. By the time she found that out, at the age of eighteen, it was already too late for Aleydis. She had indulged her desires quite a few times.
She managed to avoid the marriage for a year by using various exuses, but she knew that she could not put it off forever. Somehow she had to find a way to get out of the arrangement her father had made long ago or her life would no longer be worth living.
Enter one Harold Neville, and not a moment too soon. Her marriage to Baldwin was less than a year away, and she was becoming desperate to get out of it. She could tell that Harold was infatuated with her the moment he met her. They flirted with each other outrageously, and by the end of the evening, she knew she had found a man after her own heart. He was intelligent, shrewd, and clever … and despite the fact that he was eleven years older than she, she found him handsome as well.
Thus began a slow seduction, teasing him unmercifully, and yet holding back on what both of them desired on the pretense of saving herself for her husband. She did not claim to be a virgin, but she said that she had grown tired of men using her (when in reality, she had been using them), and decided that she was going to sleep with no other man until she was married.
What she did not know was that Harold wanted to marry her anyway, and was manipulating her as much as she was manipulating him. When that became clear to her, it only made him respect him more, and she knew she could learn many useful things from him.
Once Harold had pulled the stings necessary to sever the agreement with Baldwin the huge and marry her himself, Aleydis gave him what she had been denying both of them for so long. Their wedding was lavish beyond belief, and that night, they let all their inhibitions go and made love well into the next day.
A short while later, Aleydis moved with Harold to England and immediately started redecorating his castle and having an entire wardrobe of gowns made for her in the English style. With his money, of course. She is now looking forward to going to court for the first time and hopes that her inability to speak English properly will not be a hindrance. Although she speaks several languages fluently, there were not as many English visitors to the Netherlands as there were from other countries, and so she did not have much of an opportunity to practice that language. She understands it much better than she speaks it.