22 July 1536 – Henry VIII loses a son

Jul22,2019 #Henry Fitzroy

1536 was a rather eventful year for King Henry VIII – his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, died, his second wife suffered a miscarriage and was then executed for treason, he lost five of his friends on the scaffold, he got betrothed and married for a third time, he was reunited with his wayward daughter, there was the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion… a busy year!

And on 22nd July 1536, Henry VIII lost his seventeen-year-old illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset. It must have been a huge blow for the king as now he was left with just two daughters, both of whom had been declared illegitimate by Parliament. The pressure was on for Jane Seymour to get pregnant ASAP!

Find out more in today’s “on this day” video:

If you prefer audio, then you can listen to my podcast at https://tudorhistory.podbean.com/e/july-22-the-death-of-henry-fitzroy-henry-viiis-illegitimate-son/

Further reading:

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34 thoughts on “22 July 1536 – Henry VIII loses a son”
  1. I went on to read your comments on his wedding. It would be interesting to know more about his wife. Tudor widows usually remarried, usually rather quickly, but she didn’t. And that comment to Cromwell is intriguing. “The marriage was made by his [the King’s] commandment without that ever I made suit therefor, or yet thought thereon, being fully concluded then with my lord of Oxford, which marriage would to Christ had taken effect […]”

  2. In losing his only surviving son we can spare a thought for Henry V111 who must have been quite frankly, devastated that his precious son had fallen victim to the terror of the age, tuberculosis an illness which was possibly to claim the life of his next son Edward V1 nearly seventeen years later, TB or consumption as it was called then has always triggered world wide alarm, and it took several hundred years before a vaccine was found and it was eradicated from England, however there is a theory that young Fitzroy may have suffered from cystic fibrosis an illness which could well have claimed his uncle Arthur, and could have been the disease which his half brother had, he was a very important child and his Royal titles of Richmond and Somerset and the numerous offices he held are proof of the high esteem his father felt for him there were rumours at one time he was being prepared for kingship, and had Anne Boleyn not caught the Kings eye then Katherine of Aragon may well have had a very different battle on her hands, by nature he was said to be pleasant and cheerful and loved sports but was not very academic, something which Henry V111 despaired of as he himself had a great cultured mind, he was acknowledged as the Kings son and the surname Fitzroy gives back hundreds of years, pre medieval as the numerous bastard children of Henry 1st were so named. poor Katherine was incensed at the conferring on him of the titles Duke of Somerset and Richmond as they were royal titles and ones which Henry V11 had owned, naturally she feared for her daughter and coupled with her antagonism must have been the depression and misery that her lady in waiting had succeeded where she had failed, she had borne the King a healthy living son, all her children daughters as well as sons had died and only Mary remained, no wonder the King was overjoyed and the queen was sad, the child’s mother Bessie Blount had been the Kings mistress for a long time and no one knows why it finished and it could be because his eye had fallen on Mary Boleyn, she was expecting their child and she was bundled of to the country and married to a courtier,by the name of Gilbert Talboys, his other loves had not lasted as long as Bessie and reports say she was beautiful and a good dancer, her child was the only acknowledged illegitimate child by Henry V111 so that fact alone stands her out as being quite important, though not obviously as much as her son, in The Tudors it portrayed her as being already married and she is dismissed quite brutally by Wolsley whom she went to for advice on her pregnancy, her husband died before her and then young Henry she survived him by four years dying in 1540, her heart must have been broken but she had gone on to marry again and had several more children, proof she was fertile, young Henry had married Anne Boleyns cousin Lady May Howard an act which enraged the brides mother, and the young couple were kept apart at first as they were too young to consummate their union, she never married again after his sad death and when she died many years later, her body was laid to rest beside his, his tomb was magnificent and recently the university of Leicester did a marvellous digital reconstruction of his tomb which shows it as it looked in its heyday, a grand opulent tomb which certainly looks grand enough to house the body of a dead King, which he could well have been had history been different, the Howard family well aware of their lineage had splendid tombs for their family, sadly Fitzroys was lost in the reformation which destroyed so many splendid tombs and treasures, the painting depicted of Fitzroy shows a very strong likeness to his father, he has the arched eyebrows long nose with the slight bump in it and small mouth, his attire is odd and therefore it is assumed he was painted in his nightwear his shirt open at the chest and a night cap, it could have been painted during his illness but although his expression is pensive his complexion shows him in the full flush of youth with his blooming cheeks, out of all Henry V111’s acknowledged children only his daughters made it past their eighteenth birthdays, Elizabeth 1st reached a good old age nearly seventy, Mary 1st herself did quite well but sadly she was to die of what could have been cancer, however, Fitzroys death and that of Edward V1’s and prince Arthur’s could well have just been the dreaded consumption nothing more sinister, an illness that struck down the healthy as well as the sick, though the sick had less chance of survival, history remembers Henry V111 for being a tyrant and he was during the last years of his reign, but we should also remember him as a father who had lost so many children and who grieved and wept for them the way ordinary people do, his suffering was no less because he was a King, he had taken such pride in Fitzroy because it proved to him that he could father children, he was proof of his manhood, which to Henry V111 mattered more than anything, RIP Henry Fitzroy, natural born son of King Henry V111 Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

    1. Blast, I posted again and today my original post has come through, two days after I sent it oh dear!

  3. I posted on here earlier about 2pm and it said my comment is awaiting moderation, but it hasn’t appeared yet?

    1. Hi Christine. I had that happen a few months ago. Waited all day and it never did post so I retyped it and tried again and it was fine. I think things just get lost in the ether. Probably some alien out there wondering where all the odd emails etc are coming from.

  4. How devastating for Henry. We know now in hindsight that he had two perfectly capable daughters as heirs but Henry could not and would not see that and so even (if it we’re , possible) to make Fitzroy his heir that was now destroyed with his death.

  5. Henry was genuinely proud of his young, illegitimate son and he often represented his father in Parliament and he was going to be made Lieutenant in Ireland and his heir had he not died in July 1536. Henry was involved in his son’s life and although he doesn’t seem to have been too happy with his wedding to a member of his wife’s family, Mary Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, he accepted it and eventually came to an agreement for her dowry and jointure as a widow. Both bride and groom were young and it was decided that they wouldn’t consummate the marriage at first. For unknown reasons this seems to have remained the situation. Henry Fitzroy development of ill health around his fifteenth year may have raised concerns and it was his long-term illnesses which was probably consumption or some kind of genetic disorder which killed him in the end.

    Mary was not left in a good financial position and it took time to provide her as a widow with a jointure after long negotiating between her father and brother and the King. Mary was also ironically a reformer and studied the gospel closely, something her brother Henry, Earl of Surrey discouraged. Mary is believed to have become involved in romantic relationship between her brother, Charles and William and the King’s niece, Margaret Douglas. These ended in disaster with Margaret being banished and under house arrest and William in the Tower, were he died. Margaret Douglas was eventually married off to the Earl of Lennox and became the mother of the famous Lord Henry Darnley, the consort of Mary, Queen of Scots.

    Henry Fitzroy was buried in the Howard tombs in Tetford Priory, the home of their ancestors who were Bigod Earls and Dukes of Norfolk, Mowbray Dukes and some Howard ancestors. However, the Priory was under threat and it was going to be suppressed. Norfolk wanted to purchase the land to save his relatives tombs but the King and Cromwell refused and ordered it to be closed. Thomas Howard had to remove the main tombs, including his father and first wife, his brothers and his grandfather and the King’s son. Up went the generations to Framlington and Henry Fitzroy has a magnificent tomb which has been examined in ultra details and three d models made. There was some controversy over the placement of the new burial with rumours that it was not done with all honour and dignity but Norfolk was able to assure the King that everything had been done correctly and no expense spared.

    1. That should be Thomas Howard, her brother, not William. Mary Howard knew of her brother’s affair with Margaret Douglas and acted as a chaperone for the couple for some time.

      As stated earlier Mary had some considerable difficulties getting a jointure from her father in law, King Henry Viii and her father, the Duke of Norfolk was caught up in the arguments. So our Duke wrote several letters to try and sort out the matter but the problem was the legal status of the marriage with Fitzroy. Henry insisted it wasn’t valid and he didn’t owe her anything. Now Mary at seventeen was quite the gal and well able to stand on her own two feet verbally at least. She blamed dad, who fell out with her, writing he had lost control of his daughter. At some point she managed to set up her own household and refused to marry his two choices, one of whom was Sir Thomas Seymour, or anyone else. The row over her money and marriage went on until 1538 when Thomas Cranmer declared it valid and Henry coffed up the goods. Mary was now at Court although she still refused to marry Seymour. Thomas appears to have given up, although he was still trying up to his own imprisonment for treason in 1546. Mary served Katherine Howard as a lady and Katherine Parr and her interest in reformation learning seems to have blossomed considerably. There is evidence that she was reconciled to her father as she visited him in prison and spoke up for him at Court. She raised her nephews and nieces during the reigns of Edward and Mary and employed the martytologist, John Foxe as a tutor for them. At least one scholar believes he began some of his later Book of Martyrs, particularly the work on Anne Boleyn under her roof. We don’t know for certain if it was due to her influence but her nephew, the fourth Duke, another Thomas Howard was known as the Protestant Duke and remained so during Elizabeth I reign. His involvement in the Northern Rebellion and alleged promotion of his marriage to Mary Queen of Scots cost him his head in 1572.

      Mary Howard had another difficult relationship, that being with her wayward brother, Sir Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey whose exploits landed him in prison on a number of occasions. After Mary refused to promote his interests with the rising Seymour clan in 1546 and another refusal to marry Tom Seymour, the two fell out. It is believed that Mary provided some of the fatal evidence which condemned him to death. Under Edward she was part of the retinue who received Marie of Guise, Queen Regent of Scotland and attended her train at Saint Paul’s Cathedral and she was received by Queen Mary I as her lady in 1553. However, due to her reformed ways Mary disliked her cousin and Mary Howard, always in debt, despite the grants she received from the crown and her father when he died, retired from Court. She died in 1555 and is buried at the side of her only husband, Henry Fitzroy, in the Church at Framingham. She had several struggles with debt and lack of money, spending time at home because of it, but eventually after writing to Cromwell, who wrote to Cranmer and being refused leave to present her case in London, she received £54.00 a year and £1000 as a grant. Her father left her £500 in his will and she probably did better in the end than many widows who remained single.


      1. Henry VIII was as stingy as his father! So many stories have him using flimsy and petty excuses to get out of paying up. In fact, it seems to have been a prominent Tudor trait. I can’t think of one of them who was really generous.

        1. And by the way, it is “coughed up,” not “coffed up.” Like a cat coughing up a hairball. 😉

        2. Perhaps it goes with the times or territory of being a King or landowner. A number of people had a great reluctance to bail their adult children out or even set them up generously. The bank of mum and dad wasn’t open back then. A number of widows had hard times getting hold of what was theirs by right. Cromwell was a busy man as many of them asked for his help. Mary Arden is a good example of a generous father, who despite not having a great fortune, made sure all of his daughters had strips of land and money while still alive, which was quite something as he remarried. Mary A went on to be successful from her farm when she inherited it and to take her fortune with her as the wife of a wool merchant and city official, John Shakespeare. Her fortune was however, later lost because John didn’t have honest in front of his name, was involved in the dark side of the business, was also a money lender and Mary lost much of her money. Fortunately they had a successful glove making business and a talented son and the family recovered. William was of course very successful and was able to claim the title of gentleman on behalf of his family. I don’t know of many upper crusts who were as generous from the Tudors no.

  6. Iv decided to post again seeing as how my original one hasn’t come through, yes poor young Henry Fitzroy died when young just like his tragic uncle and his soon to be born half brother Edward V1, there is a theory that Prince Arthur could have suffered from cystic fibrosis a hereditary disease and that Fitzroy suffered from this and possibly Edward, though the latters symptoms sound more like the dreaded consumption, when he was born his father was delighted as it was proof that he could father a male heir, this must have wounded Katherine his wife to the core as she had lost so many children and only had a daughter, she must have felt a failure, it did not help that Henry brought him to court and showered titles on him, most notably the Royal ones of Duke of Somerset and Richmond, titles which only Henry V11 had held, proof that this lad was held in high esteem by his Royal father, on top of that he had numerous other titles which was common among sons of royalty proof again what a precious child this son was, Henry V111 called Mary his pearl, he must have considered Fitzroy though base born more precious as he was male, though it seems unkind but we have to remember this was Tudor England and Henry V111 dearly wanted a son, more importantly he was the only acknowledged illegitimate child of Henry V111 his mother had been Elizabeth Blount a known beauty of the court, one of the queens ladies in waiting and was described by some as an elegant dancer, the King seems to have been quite in love with Bessie as she is more commonly known and in fact she inspired the saying ‘Bless- ie Bessie’, in ‘ The Tudors she is portrayed as being already married and giggling about her cuckolded husband whilst in bed with the King, when finding herself with child she sought advice from Wolsley who dismissed her quite abruptly and sent her off to the country where she stayed till she gave birth to her son, in reality she was found a husband called Gilbert Tailboys a courtier by the King and he reared her child as his own, although he was acknowledged by Henry V111 as his, Bessie also had a daughter and some say she could also have been the Kings but being a girl she was not acknowledged as such, therefore if we consider Catherine Cary that is quite a strong argument for her also being the Kings, as she was never acknowledged by him either, girls were not important enough, there in fact have been several children that Henry V111 was said to have sired with various women, a young man by the name of James Perrot who was said to resemble him in looks and a girl Ethelreda Malte whose mother was a laundress in the royal palaces, she was with Elizabeth in the Tower during her incarceration as suspicion was on her over the Wyatt plot, if they were half sisters neither would have known but maybe there were the odd rumours?, Henry Fitzroy was said to be a pleasant boy cheerful with a love for sports inherited from his father but he disliked studying and Henry V111 despaired as he had an academic brain, his darling son it seems did not, the portrait of him shows a strong likeness to his Royal father, he has the same long nose and there is an indication of a slight bump in it, which Henry V111 also had and passed onto his daughter Elizabeth 1st, his mouth is small and he has arched eyebrows again like his father, his attire is odd and he is said to be wearing his night clothes, since the nobility and royalty wore such sumptuous clothes and jewels we can see clearly this must have been his night wear he was clad in, an indication of his failing health, his expression is pensive although the sitters in Tudor portraits never smiled, he was clearly a teenager and therefore this must have been painted not long before his death, which means he could well ha e been dying when he sat for this portrait, the artist has captured him in the full flush of youth with a bloom on his cheeks, sadly he wasted away at just seventeen years old, he pre deceased his mother who survived another four years, she had already outlived her first husband and had made another marriage where she had more children, so young Henry had quite a few half siblings as well as Elizabeth and Mary Tudor, we can spare a thought for Henry V111 at his passing, tyrant though he was turning into one, having just executed his wife and several courtiers one time friends and companions of his, he must have grieved especially over this sacred child of his, the only son to reach his teens and we must remember also, King though he was his grief was no less than any man, he had buried so many children over the years maybe he had no more tears left?Fitzroy had married Lady Mary Howard a match brought about by her ambitious cousin Anne Boleyn, and he was buried in a grand tomb in the Howard church at St. Michaels Framlingham, many years later his widow was to join him she had never married again, and sadly as we know his tomb was lost in the reformation when so many fine resting places were lost and desecrated and treasures were stolen, the university of Leicester some years ago made a digital reconstruction of his splendid tomb and we can see how beautiful it was, it had figures carved around it and was typical of the tombs the Howard’s had for their dead, they never did anything by halves it really was fit for a King, and we can assume he very nearly could have been, he could well have been crowned King Henry V1111, I believe his father was seriously considering him as a possible successor at one time, had he not met and decided to marry Anne Boleyn and try to get a son on her, after all he himself descended from the bastard Beaufort line proof that where crowns were concerned they were not that far out of reach, for the safety and security of his realm he could well have decided to leave England to his base born son, of course he would have to get Parliament to agree, as it was Anne Boleyn came along and then young Fitzroy left this world, death stalked ever near, RIP young Henry Duke of Richmond and Somerset and innumerable other titles, Fitzroy whose name means ‘ son of the King, a name that pre dates the medieval period as his ancestor Henry 1st had so many Fitzroys running around, it is believed nearly thirty in all, it was a name Royal bastards took pride in even though they were base born, they had titles and lived in luxury just like their legitimate siblings, so now on his death Henry V111 had just two useless as he called then daughters, he had married his third queen by now and he must have been looking for the normal signs of pregnancy, now it was all on Jane to produce a son for the King and more importantly this one would be a legitimate prince no doubt about it, in losing his precious son he was rewarded with another one the following year, tears mingled with joy, but sadly England was to lose him when he too was around the same age as his half brother whom he had never known, but perhaps was to meet in the after life. RIP

  7. I was speaking of the Tudors themselves, not their era, when I said the Tudors were stingy, BanditQueen. In the general population I suspect the mix of generous and stingy was about what it is today. I am aware of the good sense of Robert Arden and I am sure there were many like him. I do think you are hard on John Shakespeare. He made some bad decisions, but I think labeling him dishonest in general is too strong. But of course you are entitled to your opinion. By the way, when was he a moneylender? I had not heard that one before.

    1. He was removed from the civic council for two reasons, one being absent too often and one for his own debts which came about during his illegal activities in the wool trade. He also lent monies over a number of years to business associates mainly and he got into hot water because one of his trade partners squealed on him and the court rolls show the fines, the evidence and how much money he had been pocketing. As a wool agent a lot of money changed hands and if someone wanted to be less than honest with the sums they could. His records were not alright and he was heavily fined. John Shakespeare wasn’t generally dishonest, it’s true, but his wool agency activities and his money lending practice were not as above board as they should have been. The guy who squealed was a government agent and his hands were far from clean. JS probably got most of the blame while his partner had the connections to get off more lightly. His dismissal from the council was the the real blow to his reputation and it took time to rebuild the fortunes, mostly from his wife’s money.

      1. Two cases came to light in the 1960s and are studied in Michael Wood’s documentary. They happened in 1569 and 1570 and there are several others mentioned. John Shakespeare was what was called a brogger, someone operating in the wool trade without a licence. He wasn’t a crook as we would know but making his money in a less honest fashion from a lucrative trade, which the state kept a tight control on. The various usury cases are recorded in the town books in Warwick, Ispwich and Coventry. The fines were massive because he was charging interest of over £20.00 a vast sum at that time. Of course this is only one side to John Shakespeare, who was also upstanding in his civic duties for over ten years and paid to restore the Church and Guildhall and Schools and the aid for people suffering from the plague and displaced people. His glove making business show a hardworking family and one upcoming in status. John was also unfortunately also told to whitewash the beautiful paintings in the Guild Chapel which he wasn’t happy about. However, the cover on the walls preserved these beautiful murals and when it was rediscovered you can see how colourful it was and how wonderful. Tudor gloves were very fine items. His family were fairly comfortable. From what I have seen from cases in the Court rolls and town books, in Tudor England these not so legal practices were not uncommon, so many people were trying to supplement incomes with other sources. The Government, however, was totally paranoid and hundreds of informers snooping into every day life soon made life difficult for anyone earning money without a licence. We also know that the Ardens were caught up in the darker side of Elizabethan paranoia. One of Mary’s cousins became caught up in the alleged Somerville Plot when his son in law, John Somerville claimed he wanted to assassinate Elizabeth I. Edward Arden, was the son of Mary’s cousin, William and his house was searched and he became implicated in the alleged plot. The entire household was purged and Edward was hung drawn and quartered, without even any real knowledge of the alleged plot. Somerville, who was probably mad, strangled himself in his cell. The main Arden House at Park Hall was raided and it was suspected that Edmund Campion and others sought refuge at Edward Arden’s home, but the link to Mary is merely by name rather than her side of the family being involved or affected. Wood has suggested that financially the family may have been affected for a time after the alleged plot in 1583.

  8. There is a Michael Wood documentary that can be found on YouTube called “Shakespeare’s Mother” and it mentions all this about John Shakespeare.

  9. OK, I give up. Actually the evidence seems a bit flimsy to me to make him a man who dishonest in every dealing of his life but feel free to paint him as bad as you like. BTW, was he ever convicted of the usury charges?

    1. Yes, in 1570 see the Court of the Exchequer Rolls in the National Archives when he was fined for usury on more than one occasion. I don’t think anyone is painting him as a bad person, just the other side of the law, as many were. 1563 in court for debt, goods seized, then Court and Corporations recorded 1573 for widespread wool dealing and usury; 1572 two bills brought against him and substantial fines paid for illegal wool dealing and another fine for usury. However, it didn’t seem to prevent him from either getting into debt himself and the bailiffs taking goods or sitting as a magistrate or alderman, which he did for ten years.

      1. Regarding the Tudors and their kids and probably generosity in general, the only two examples we have are Henry Vii and Viii as the others didn’t have children, legitimate or otherwise. Henry Vii wasn’t quite as miserable as he is often portrayed and his generosity to his children and others seems reasonable. The young Henry was overly generous because he inherited a huge amount of money from his father’s revenues, collected through extortion and taxes in other ways, mainly in London through holding his merchants and gentlemen in financial strangleholds but that was something different to personal generosity.

        However, Henry Viii was wildly extravagant when he first came to the throne, making rewards left right and centre for his friends and gentlemen. However, here is the cynical bit, he was of course buying and rewarding their loyalty which he relied on and popularity which again he relied on. Even when Henry was later generous in place of a father, or to Anne of Cleves, it came with a price tag. His generosity was because Anna accepted the annulment, which was based on reasons he invented. When Henry insisted that Thomas Boleyn provided for his daughter Mary it was to hurry up a process which was in the wind in any case and Thomas may or may not have been aware of her plight. In fact her husband should have done this, but William Carey died with gambling debts and she wasn’t left well off. Her father was slow to provide for her, but once the King informed him, he provided a proper independent income for her and Anne took her son as her ward and helped raised him. His withdrawal of that provision when Mary Boleyn married William Stafford without parental or royal consent was due to her disobedience. Again he was persuaded to make provision by Cromwell and Henry. It was conditional on the letter Mary wrote admitting she was wrong, loved William but regretted her offence to her family. That’s Tudor dads for you. Henry was just the same with Mary, his own beloved daughter. Everything dependent on her legitimate status, her admission his marriage to her mother was unlawful and her own status had changed. He was the loving, adoring father up until 1533 and then Mary had to accept his new wife, Anne Boleyn as Queen. Naturally she didn’t. Henry was furious. His authority as King and the head of his family were being challenged by a wilful teenager whom he loved, but needed to obey him. He perhaps reacted too harshly, keeping Katherine and Mary apart and allowing Anne to deal with her too cruelly, but he approved it all. After Anne’s execution we know Mary wrote and tried to reconcile with her father, whose new wife was more amenable to Mary. However, instead a delegation was sent to demand her total submission and a couple of members threatened her. She was left terrified for her life and had no choice but to sign the articles and through Cromwell and Chapuys wrote to submit and accept everything Henry demanded. Once his daughter did that, Henry’s generosity knew no bounds. He was extremely generous and their relationship was with her for the rest of his life. He was a man who clearly liked the money and was reluctant to relinquish his right to it. Actually, you can see this early on when his sister Mary the French Queen married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and Henry was furious. The couple were forgiven or rather negotiated their pardon and return but at a high financial cost, a crippling fine of £24, 000, most of Mary’s plate and jewellery and something called the Mirror of Naples. It was a huge diamond given as a gift to Mary by her husband King Louis and Henry demanded it. I don’t believe it still exists that we know about but imagine what it must have looked like. There are a few examples in the crown jewels to compare. Henry was openly magnanimous on their return, he lavished everything on them over the years, but they were never allowed to forget that they owed money to the crown all of their lives. Ironically, for all of her reputation, for personal generosity without strings the only Tudor who comes off well was Mary, his daughter, in whose eyes Henry could do no wrong. She must have thought differently after her experience in 1536 but she never showed it. Henry was generous, obviously, but with a definite price tag and his treatment of Mary Howard is appalling. Henry, I believe wasn’t entirely in favour of the marriage with a Howard and his son in the first place, although Anne had something to do with promoting it. Yes, the couple were about fourteen at the time, which was just about considered old enough to consummate the marriage but it was advisable to wait a year or so, which Henry did. Yes, Anne was in favour when they married and Henry approved. However, it appears Henry F and Mary H had still been kept apart three years later and their marriage must not have been consummated. Henry used this as an excuse not to fulfil his obligation to her as her male protector to give her what she was entitled to as a widow. Mary demanded the right to come to London to press her cause, Norfolk refused because of the state the poor young woman was in. Her father wrote, however, but still the King refused and she wailed and wept so much that Norfolk allowed her to go. Mary H wrote to Cromwell who had Cranmer examine the marriage, which was declared valid and then Henry’s settlement was very generous. I suspect he knew the marriage was valid, the none consummation was not the choice of the bride and groom and given his son had health issues, he held on, knowing he could keep the cash. This action shows greed, pure and simple and control over Mary H and her future. I also believe it shows Henry Viii didn’t fully accept the marriage and used that as an excuse not to pay Mary her jointure. It took two years for the case to be settled. Mary H refused attempts to marry her to Thomas Seymour or anyone else and raised her nieces and nephews in a reformed household independently, coming to Court during the rest of Henry’s reign to serve his other wives, during the reigns of Edward and Mary I. She was buried at the side of her late husband in his beautiful tomb at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk when she died in 1555.

        Just as a postcript, Mary H was very involved in the fatal romance between her brother, Thomas and the niece of King Henry, Lady Margaret Douglas, which ended in disaster. She acted as their chaperone and knew about their liaison for some time. The couple married but it was declared illegal and both Thomas and Margaret were put in the Tower. An act of Parliament made it unlawful to marry without the crown and treason to do so. In October 1537 Thomas died and Margaret, ill was removed to Syon House. She tried a similar stunt in 1540 with Sir Charles Howard, the brother of Katherine Howard, but it was quickly ended. Margaret would eventually marry Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox in 1543/4 and go on to be the mother of Henry, Lord Darnley, the wayward husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. Elizabeth I put poor Margaret back in the Tower. Mary H was quite a gal who made a stand and even at seventeen was determined to gain her rights, despite being distraught at the loss of her young husband. The young Henry Viii may have been open handed, but by 1536 his love of money and power was hitting everyone around him, even those he claimed to love.

        I do believe he genuinely showed he could be a good father in his relationship with Henry Fitzroy, his personal involvement in his life and willingness to promote him as his heir are signs of this. He even showed evidence of good fatherhood at times with both Mary and Elizabeth, but it was dependent on their obedience and his own conditions. We tend to think of loving our children unconditionally, but the love of a monarch came with strings attached. Henry loved Mary and Elizabeth, I have no doubt about it, but he couldn’t accept Mary for her refusal to accept his wife and Queen, Anne Boleyn, that undermined his authority in his household and the country, which was his point of view. His relationship with Elizabeth was complicated by the fact she reminded him of Anne and he swung back and forth on his approval of her. However, he still brought in the best tutors and her total estrangement from him before 1543 is a myth. Records show Elizabeth regularly at Court from Christmas 1536 onwards and Henry was generally warm towards both of his daughters. His relationship with Elizabeth clearly improved as time passed and Elizabeth who was very proud of her mother, was also proud to be the daughter of Henry Viii and took after him in many ways, including his ruthlessness. Henry left his daughters wealth and land but strict conditions and control over it with the Council who could remove it if they married without permission. With Edward, his only legitimate son, he was loving and adored him, but was overly protective, keeping him from Court too often, because of dangerous plagues and things. Again, Queen Katherine Parr changed that somewhat, but the father and son relationship was firm enough for young Edward to develop his own ideas on reformation based on his tutorials and to have opinions on Anne Boleyn and his sisters which are reflected in his diary and Devise for the Succession. They are not complementary. In fact the language reflects his father. Edward was his pride and joy after so long waiting for him and naturally he took precautions to protect him. However, some historians believe he over did it, although there is no evidence of general ill health until Edward was 15, months before his death. He had something called tertiary fever when he was six, while Henry was on progress, which was often fatal, but the fact the boy fought it off shows he had a strong constitution and wasn’t a weakling. His father on his return refused to leave his bedside and gave orders for Mass to be said on his recovery. Unfortunately, the prayers were also offered for his new perfect wife, Kathryn Howard, who, according to the anonymous letter in his private pew, had something of a mysterious and wild past. The rest is history.

        1. Yes there has always been a myth that young Edward was sickly but in fact he was no different to any other child who suffered from the usual bout of childhood illnesses, he was born perfectly healthy despite his arduous birth and the fact that he did recover from the tertiary fever shows he was quite strong, Henry V111 had suffered from malaria in his youth but had managed to shake it of, it is believed that Edwards last illness before catching TB (if that what was killed him), had lain dormant in his body and thus when he caught his last illness it flared up again and his body was unable to fight the infection, I have always felt so sorry for the poor young lads suffering, he had caught bed sores as he had lain in his bed so long and ulcers had broken out over his body, before he was ill when his council propped him up against the window so people could see their king, as rumours were going around he was very ill, of course he was but poor Edward got no peace, he had to grin and wave at people outside though he must have been exhausted.

        2. Edward showed his capacity to rule quite quickly. He was definitely a young man with his own well defined policy of reform and what is more remarkable, he kept his own journal at time when this was unusual, for only a few are known to exist, he wrote his political ideas down and his reforms and we can see the mind of a young scholar at work. One trait the Tudor family did share was intelligence, perhaps even genius, they were forward thinking, but they also shared susceptibility to one thing; TB or something like it. Henry Viii escaped it, but it appears to have been in the family. What killed Edward vi is still debated, just as what killed Prince Arthur is debatable, but he was in decline for several months and it was agonising for him. He had to be closely nursed in those last few weeks and the descriptions of how ill he was are heartbeaking to read. Another young person of great potential which history denied an opportunity to shine. He may have turned out like his father, although Henry’s changes were due to political and religious changes which happened as a result of his marriage adventures and desire for a son and heir. Henry Viii went through six brides, three before a male heir appeared, he took power for himself in the Supremacy and became corrupted by that power and potentially neurological damage. Edward may have avoided these, had one wife and been blessed with half a dozen healthy children: we have no idea what his future had in store had he lived to full manhood. We can only speculate that Henry too might have turned out much differently had his sons with Katherine lived. Unfortunately we can’t turn back time and recreate reality and reverse misfortune, so we have what we have. History turns on a coin, someone once said, but I don’t know who and maybe that’s what makes it so interesting, life is unpredictable.

          Talking about history, British politics just got more lively: I haven’t been following it all day, but now we have a clown in No 10 so now the rest of the world can laugh at Britain as well as America. Personally I doubt Boris will be quite the clown people think he will and we might be very well surprised. Oh well, wait and see. Going back to my moon landing recordings; a lot to get through.

  10. I don’t want to start another avalanche of words, but when I said the Tudors were stingy I was basing it on their behavior in general. I don’t see how “Regarding the Tudors and their kids and probably generosity in general, the only two examples we have are Henry Vii and Viii as the others didn’t have children,” works. Henry VII was known for being a tightwad. Henry VIII never gave anything without having a string firmly attached to it. I can’t forget his pettyness in letting his daughter Elizabeth be in such straits for clothing as is indicated by Lady Bryan’s letter to Cromwell, “she has neither gown nor kirtle nor petticoat nor linen for smock.” He does this to a child three years old! Edward VI didn’t live long enough to really leave a record, so I will not comment on him. Lastly, when Elizabeth I refused to pay the wages of the men who had defeated the Armada, especially after “We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid,” she showed she possessed the family traits in full. But of course you are entitled to your opinion.

    1. I believe I agreed with everything you said, especially on Elizabeth. They didn’t even have enough ammunition during the twelve days when she refused to deal with anything and hid in Richmond, which then was well and truly hidden in the countryside. The Admiral sent a letter asking for more shot and didn’t even get a response. The sailors and soldiers died in their thousands of hunger and disease.

      I actually believe the account from Lady Bryan to be misunderstood. Elizabeth was growing out of her clothes because her mother wasn’t there to overlook her provision and order her clothes as Anne had been very attentive in this. It wasn’t Henry’s job to make sure his kids had clothing. He provided an income and it needed to be increased. The letter is taken out of context and the response is a myth. Provision was made and Jane also provided jewellery for extra clothing. Elizabeth wasn’t a Princess anymore and that was the problem. She wasn’t, however, left without adequate clothing.

      The family definitely had a mean strait but then again, the Plantagenets and Stuarts were not always great parents either. Its difficult to generalize across the population as a whole because I am more familiar with specific cases and I am not a social historian. However, people are still people and there were generous people and stringy ones. Farming communities are recorded as being very generous to their servants and farm hands, treating them as part of the family, providing them with wages, which were unfortunately capped in the 1570s, but also one main meal at midday and food to take home at supper, during the harvest and busy times, home and board and an apprenticeship and provision for their future. It was only the nobility and royalty who got married in their mid teens: with the average age for a woman being 22 and 24 for a man, because the ordinary person had to serve for seven years in trade or service and save up to marry. Yeoman families also married at this age, so although William Shakespeare married when he was eighteen because he had to, this was actually still young in his circumstances and background. There is a curious record in another parish which shows he may have been careless in marriage as well as getting more than one woman pregnant. It has never been proven but he is registered as marrying another woman, another Anne one week before he married Anne Hathaway. This record is disputed and has baffled historians ever since. While doing the right thing by his new wife, he was a few years younger than Anne and his parents supported him for a time. Marriage, however, normally took place between 22 and 26 for financial and legal reasons, especially around being freed from an apprenticeship or service to marry as you needed the consent of your master or mistress if you had one. William came from the yeoman class so would have needed to provide for his wife and her contribution would be practical as well. Of course not everyone was as generous to their servants, children or neighbours, but we have enough records to show farming communities generally were.

        1. No, at least Henry Viii paid his and very well, often in advance. There was something wrong with these rulers, which is probably why I am no supporter of royalty, even if they are interesting to me as a historian. The least you can do as a ruler is the right thing by those who have risked their lives and your own kin. I doubt Henry tried to consign Elizabeth to oblivion but he certainly had a poor time as he couldn’t bury his daughter as well as his wife and her memory.

  11. I have read Lady Bryan’s letter in its entirety and I still think it is an example of Henry’s meanness. You are correct when you say that the details of a small daughter’s dress were not her father’s direct concern. But providing money to buy decent clothing, not to mention food and other necessities, is a father’s responsibility and he had not done it. It is similar to what he did to other people. Elizabeth was her mother’s daughter and Henry wanted to bury the whole episode in oblivion as soon as possible. He had literally buried all the adults but the most he could do about Elizabeth was bury her in oblivion.

    1. Lady Bryan was very definitely correct to express her concerns for Elizabeth, not just here but in her capacity as her governess when Cromwell came to visit and nobody knew how Elizabeth should now be treated. Henry’s response was that Elizabeth, as Mary had been should be kept to her chambers as much as possible and served there her meals. Elizabeth wasn’t even told of her mother’s death for several weeks and as late as August was still being served meals as Princess of Wales under the canopy of state. Everything was about to change, including her legitimate status in Parliament. It’s not recorded at what point she was informed or how, but her governess now had new instructions and asked for income for her household as it had not been allocated. Cromwell promised money would come but the letter two weeks later shows nothing had been done. Henry had ignored the reality of everything, being too caught up in his new marriage. One cannot agree more that Henry here let things go too far and it is genuinely a concern for negligence but we also have to consider this is a growing child, her clothes are bound to grow too small. Her changed status is also to blame. Elizabeth wasn’t a legitimate Princess any more with all of the automatic privileges, she was a legal bastard, the daughter of a convicted criminal and traitor, who as far as her father was concerned, didn’t qualify automatically for his personal attentions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning his actions, they are shocking, but they have to be seen in perspective. Elizabeth wasn’t automatically entitled to the attentions and pampering of a royal child: her household wasn’t that of the heir to the throne, any more than the household of Princess Mary. Innocent as she was, her special provision had fallen by the wayside and it is truly ridiculous but her governess had to remind Cromwell of his promise and duty alongside her father. There is no evidence, however, that Elizabeth was ever short of food. The letter suggesting she should be served in her rooms confirmed she was being fed, even if her clothes needed providing. It wasn’t unusual for her to have her own separate household, either, this was normal for children in the royal family. What Mistress Bryan is saying is how was she to be treated and that the money intended for her clothes and housing had not been allocated to them. She was quite correct to be concerned and push the matter as the child was being forgotten and somewhat neglected by her father and the official people who should see that money was paid, even by Cromwell who had witnessed things first hand.

      The response was to insist that Elizabeth was served in her chambers but money was forthcoming and a change in household staff followed the following year when Mistress Bryan moved on to the household of Prince Edward. No doubt Henry felt uncomfortable around Elizabeth but he was out of order here. However, I disagree that he wanted to consign her to oblivion as the evidence points to an active interest in her education, with the best tutors, her being at Court that Christmas and regular interactions over the next years. It is true that Elizabeth appeared to drift in and out of favour, but that is on Henry, but contrary to the popular myth, she wasn’t almost permanently banished from Court and things quickly improved after this intervention.

      1. Henry V111 was always proud of his little Elizabeth and although he disparaged her mother quite dreadfully, (the remark about he believes she could have slept with a hundred men) he always acknowledged her as his and he knew there was no doubt of her paternity, Lady Bryan must have been at her wits end when she wrote to Cromwell about her young charges lack of amenities, children do grow out of clothes first and although she was not yet three, she was a sharp witted child, she remarked on her change of title, ‘yesterday I was the lady princess and now the lady Elizabeth’ she also must have missed the beautiful clothes that her mother had bought for her, Anne had often sent the dressmakers to Elizabeth for measuring up her bonnets and stockings, gloves etc, she had bought yards of expensive materials all for her pampered little girl, Elizabeth was aware something was going on, we do not know who told her about her mothers death either and how old she was, quite likely it was Lady Bryan who simply told her that her mother had gone to heaven, later she would have learnt it was her own father who had ordered her death and it must have affected her quite a bit, how easy was it growing up knowing that your own father had sent your mother to her death, especially when that father was held in such high esteem by the child, talking of her education, one Christmas Elizabeth presented her father with a piece of work written in Latin, all the Tudors were academically bright and quite musical, possibly coming from their Welsh ancestry, although it was very much a mans world and women were expected to know their place, intelligent learned women were admired, was not the children of Sir Thomas More including his daughters well educated? And Anne Boleyns father had made sure she and her siblings received a good education, the Grey sisters were educated well and even their youngest sister, Lady Mary Grey was not forgotten, even though she was born a dwarf and possibly suffered from scoliosis her parents made sure she received a good education, like her sisters.

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