13 August 1514 – Princess Mary Tudor marries by proxy

Aug13,2017 #Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor, Queen of France, by Joannus Corvus
On this day in history, 13th August 1514, Henry VIII’s youngest sister, Mary, married King Louis XII of France by proxy at Greenwich Palace.

Henry VIII wrote to Pope Leo X on 12th August 1514 regarding the peace treaty agreed between France and England, which included the marriage of Mary and Louis, and mentioning her previous betrothal to Charles of Castile, the future Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor:

“The Princess Mary is to be given in marriage to France. She had been betrothed at thirteen years of age to the Prince of Castile, then nine years old, on the stipulation that when he was fourteen he should send his proxies to England, and solemnly espouse her per verba de prœsenti. His governors neglected it, and last year when the King was at Lisle, [and again] on the 15th May last he impressed this matter frequently on their attention without effect. Taking the advice of his Council, his sister solemnly annulled the engagement, and was betrothed to the King of France. Thinks their alliance will be of great importance to the weal of Christendom, and they can now turn their arms against its common enemies.”

The eighteen-year-old Mary was present at the wedding ceremony, but fifty-two-year-old Louis was represented by the Duke of Longueville. Here is the record of the marriage from Letters & Papers:

“Notarial instrument stating that, 13 Aug. 1514, at the royal manor of Greenwich, present Henry VIII., Queen Katharine, the Abp. of Canterbury, Thomas postulate of York, the Dukes of Buckingham, Norfolk and Suffolk, the Bishops of Winchester and Durham, the Marquis of Dorset, the Earls of Shrewsbury, Surrey, Essex and Worcester, John de Selva and Thomas Bohier, appeared the Princess Mary and the Duke of Longueville, and after a Latin speech by the Archbishop and John de Selva, and the reading of the French King’s letters patent by the Bp. of Durham, the Duke of Longueville, taking with his right the right hand of the Princess Mary, read the French King’s words of espousal (recited) in French. Then the Princess, taking the right hand of the Duke of Longueville, read her part of the contract (recited) in the same tongue. Then the Duke of Longueville signed the schedule and delivered it for signature to the Princess Mary, who signed Marye; after which the Duke delivered the Princess a gold ring, which the Princess placed on the fourth finger of her right hand. Louis XII.’s commission recited (dated St. Germain en Laye 8 Aug. 1514). Attested by Robert Toneys and William Edwardis.”

The real wedding took place on 9th October 1514 at Abbeville in France. Anne Boleyn was recalled from Margaret of Austria’s court to serve Mary in France, which she did until Mary returned to England following Louis’ death. Anne was retained by the new French queen, Queen Claude, wife of Francis I.

Notes and Sources

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3 thoughts on “13 August 1514 – Princess Mary Tudor marries by proxy”
  1. Wow. Great article! Thanks. I find it fascinating..those times. So emotional and “clever” persons working in whispers…That’s drama!

  2. Mary was not happy about this marriage to the elderly Louis xii but she had to do her duty, even at eighteen as she was a Princess and the sister of the King of England. Her beauty was well known and she was a free spirited woman who loved to dance, sing, take part in the masquerade and the entertainment at Court and she was romantic. As she was in love with the gallant and handsome Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, her brother’s best mate, after many tears and arguments, Mary only married Louis after getting a promise from Henry that she could marry whom she chose if she was widowed. Mary really had little choice but to agree as despite her demands, she was a woman with little power and only one escape from marriage existed, being a nun. That wasn’t going to happen and Henry promised Mary her wish to ensure that she agreed to the marriage. Henry needed the alliance with France and Mary was the method of that peace.

    The Duc de Longueville was a hostage in England after the hostilities of 1513 and he had a part in this alliance. It was he who acted as the proxy for King Louis at this marriage and he put his leg alongside hers in the bed and she was declared married and consummated. She would later marry Louis in October. Mary was received in great pomp and ceremony in France and to many ceremonial celebrations and she was acclaimed much by her new people. Many nobles went with her and took part in jousting in her honour and Louis may have been killed by kindness and her over exertion. Numerous hunts, jousts and dances followed but by January 1515 Mary was a widow. Banished to seclusion in Abeville Mary was left there until it could be seen if she was with child. Mary was given two friars to watch her and Henry sent Brandon to bring her home. He saved her from a possible second marriage to Charles of Castile by marrying her himself. Henry wasn’t pleased but he eventually calmed down and on the payment of 24,000 pounds and several large jewels, the couple came home and were remarried in public at Greenwich.

  3. In her portraits Mary does indeed look the beauty she was known for, she has delicate features and i should imagine Louis thought he was lucky to wed this charming princess, it is said she flirted with Francois the heir apparent and she was trying to lure him into bed with her, no doubt being wed to the elderly and frail King wasnt exactly thrilling and she needed something to add zest to her life in France, Francois was a dreadful rake and I can imagine them glancing at each over over the banquet table or when they were dancing with other people. Mary was lucky that her husband died and she could return home, she must have been homesick and was in love with Charles Brandon, Henry had promised her she could choose her next husband but he was furious that it was done in secret and with such haste. However he was fond of his little sister and was best friends with Brandon so he soon forgave them, the lot of a princess was a sad one in those days I believe, they were just political pawns used to cement alliances, a bridegroom could be sixty and his bride a girl in her teens, although of course he would have to wait till she was considered old enough before having sexual relations, the sad tale of Margaret Beaufort is well known to Tudor buffs and historians,I find it disgusting that her selfish brute of a husband had sex with her when she was just a child, just so he could get an heir,the fact that her and her baby both survived was nothing less than a miracle.

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