22 July 1536 – Henry Fitzroy departed his life

Posted By on July 22, 2016

Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and SomersetOn this day in history, 22nd July 1536, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, died at St James’s Palace. He was just seventeen years of age, having been born on 15th June 1519 to the King’s mistress, Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount. In 1525, he had been elected as a Knight of the Garter and created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

Charles Wriothesley records Fitzroy’s death in his chronicle:

“Also the twentith tow daie of Julie, Henrie, Duke of Somersett and Richmonde, and Earle of Northampton [Nottingham], and a base sonne of our soveraigne King Henrie the Eight, borne of my Ladie Taylebuse, that tyme called Elizabeth Blunt, departed out of this transitory lief at the Kinges place in Sainct James, within the Kinges Parke at Westminster […] and he was buried at Thetforde in the countie of Norfolke.”1

As Wriothesley records, Fitzroy was buried at Thetford Priory in Norfolk, after Henry VIII had left the burial arrangements to Fitzroy’s father-in-law, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He was later moved to St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk, due to the dissolution of the priory. His wife, Mary Howard, was buried with him there after her death in 1557.

We don’t know for sure what Fitzroy died of, but Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, wrote on 8th July 1536 that Fitzroy’s physicians believed him to be “consumptive, and incurable.”2 Fitzroy had been well enough to attend Anne Boleyn’s execution on 19th May 1536 and Parliament on 8th June 1536.

His death must have been a huge blow for King Henry VIII.

Notes and Sources

  1. Wriothesley, Charles(1875) A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1, Camden Society, p. 53-54.
  2. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 11, 40.

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Mary Boleyn’s letter to Thomas Cromwell

Posted By on July 19, 2016

Mary Boleyn and Thomas CromwellAs I’ve said many times before, Mary Boleyn is a bit of a mystery. The late historian and Anne Boleyn expert Eric Ives once said to me that what we know about Mary Boleyn could be “written on a postcard with room to spare”, the rest is supposition. We don’t know when she was born, what she looked like, when she slept with King Henry VIII and for how long, where she was at the fall of her siblings in 1536, what happened to the baby she was carrying in 1534, where she died, where she was buried… So many unanswered questions. It’s frustrating.

But one thing that does give us an insight into the person Mary was is a letter she wrote to Thomas Cromwell following her banishment from court after her secret marriage to her second husband, William Stafford. Mary was desperate for Cromwell to intercede with the King and Queen on her behalf, but she shows no regret for marrying Stafford, a man she clearly loves. It is a moving letter, don’t you think?

“Master Secretary,

After my poor recommendations, which is smally to be regarded of me, that am a poor banished creature, this shall be to desire you to be good to my poor husband and to me. I am sure it is not unknown to you the high displeasure that both he and I have, both of the king’s highness and the queen’s grace, by reason of our marriage without their knowledge, wherein we both do yield ourselves faulty, and do acknowledge that we did not well to be so hasty nor so bold, without their knowledge. But one thing, good master secretary, consider, that he was young, and love overcame reason; and for my part I saw so much honesty in him, that I loved him as well as he did me, and was in bondage, and glad I was to be at liberty: so that, for my part, I saw that all the world did set so little by me, and he so much, that I thought I could take no better way but to take him and to forsake all other ways, and live a poor, honest life with him. And so I do put no doubts but we should, if we might once be so happy to recover the king’s gracious favour and the queen’s. For well I might have had a greater man of birth and a higher, but I assure you I could never have had one that should have loved me so well, nor a more honest man; and besides that, he is both come of an ancient stock, and again as meet (if it was his grace’s pleasure) to do the king service, as any young gentleman in his court.

(more…)

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