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Henry VIII’s Illegitimate Children

Posted By on March 18, 2011

I’ve just written an article over at The Elizabeth Files about Elizabeth’s possible illegitimate siblings. Henry VIII recognised one illegitimate child as his – Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond – but were there others he did not formally recognise?

In my article, I discuss Henry Fitzroy, Catherine and Henry Carey, John Perrot, Thomas Stukeley and Ethelreda Malte. Please do read it and let me know your thoughts.

See “Elizabeth’s Early Life – Illegitimate Siblings”.

Comments on
"Henry VIII’s Illegitimate Children"

2 Responses to “Henry VIII’s Illegitimate Children”

  1. La Belle Creole says:

    What a fantastic article. Wow. Learn something new everyday. I’d no idea Henry VIII was such a tom cat on top of his other failings.

    I think the Carey children will always be a tantalizing mystery. Even their Tudor resemblance isn’t compelling proof. Am i mistaken or wasn’t William Carey related to the Tudors? It could have just been family resemblance.

    I can see why Henry would have avoided noticing the Carey children because they were essentially useless to his dynasty-building schemes. Mary Boleyn was a married woman; Henry shared her favors with her husband, leaving room for doubt the children were undoubtedly Henry’s.

    Concerning the additional three children, I must say it raises some interesting questions. Since the male children were the result of adulterous liasions, their paternity would always have been questionnable, no different from the Carey children. Henry would have been uninterested in Malte as far as securing the succession.

    The fact that Henry may have fathered several illegitimate sons during his quest to anull his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and wed Anne Boleyn puts a much different slant on his vindictive behavior toward Katherine and Anne for their “failures.” Henry knew where’d he been and when he’d been there. If he believed or even suspected these children were his, it probably convinced him something was “wrong” with his marriages and/or his wives. If he believed Mary Boleyn’s children could have been his, perhaps he hoped Anne would prove equally fertile and more respectable since Anne was an unmarried woman. After ignorning three son’s in favor of conceiving a legitimate son by Anne, Elizabeth’s birth would have been a horrible shock and disappointment to him.

    It’s really intriguing. We’ll never know, of course.

    As to whether Anne would have worried about Henry’s affairs, history has shown us she had good reason to worry, especially if his petty affairs resulted in healthy male issue.

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  2. Sarah says:

    I don’t see why Henry shouldn’t have admitted paternity of any more illegitimate children (if they existed). Dynastically useless or not, they would be an affirmation of his virility and ability to father healthy children who lived, and it’s not as if there would be any great moral condemnation – he was the king and could do as he liked. Illegitimate children at all levels of society were simply accepted as a natural consequence of male frailty.I believe that the reason for his vindictiveness to Katherine and Anne was that the woman was seen as responsible for anything that happened to her foetus – in the 17c there was a prince at the court of Louis XIV whose ugliness was thought to be due to her having intercepted a “sexy look” from one of her dwarves, and women were told that there were all sorts of things they should avoid if they wanted a normal baby. There was very little idea that the health or behaviour of the father might also be a factor.

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