Henry Fitzroy and Mary HowardOn 26th November 1533 at Hampton Court Palace, fourteen year-old Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and the acknowedged illegitimate son of Henry VIII by his mistress Elizabeth Blount, married Lady Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and his second wife, Elizabeth Stafford. Mary was also fourteen years of age.

The marriage was a political match and the young couple were not expected to consummate it or live together after the marriage until they were older. It was said that Crown Prince Juan, brother of Catherine of Aragon, had died because he had consummated his marriage to Margaret of Savoy when he was too young and Henry VIII did not want to risk his only son’s health. However, Richmond still died young, dying in July 1536 at the age of seventeen.

You can read more about the couple in my article Henry Fitzroy Marries Mary Howard.

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14 thoughts on “26 November 1533 – Henry VIII’s Illegitimate Son Gets Married”
      1. In your past article on Henry Fitzroy referred to above, you write that it is unknown whether or not his marriage to Mary Howard was consummated.

        1. It is not known officially as the couple could have secretly consummated it, but it is thought that it wasn’t due to their youth and concerns about health implications. They certainly did not live together as a married couple would generally do, they carried on with their lives separately. I hope that explains it.

          Happy Thanksgiving if you’re from across the Pond!

  1. This must have been an exciting day for Henry – here was proof that he could, indeed, have a healthy son, and see to the continuation of the Tudor line, even if Fitzroy was, “born on the wrong side of the blankets.”

    Funny, though, how he forbade his son and daughter in law from consummating the marriage, when Henry himself had no problems with satisfying his own libido. IF a son had been born of Fitzroy and Mary Howard, though, would Henry have named that child his heir? Had Fitzroy and Mary produced “only” a daughter, she probably would have been treated as disgracefully as Henry treated his daughters.

    I can’t help but imagine how insulting this was to Katharine of Aragon and her own, legitimate daughter, Mary, though. A bastard get was worthy of a good, noble match, but a Royal Princess was not?

    I also wonder if Mary (future Mary I) would have been able to have children at this, much younger age, and settle the succession once and for all.

    After all, her grandparents, the King and Queen of Spain, did have a legitimate son who unfortunately died before he could become King. Attention then turned to the sons born of their daughter the Infanta (am I using that term correctly?) Juana, and from there, the royal line of Spain continued. Henry could have done something like that with Mary and Elizabeth, instead of treating his wives so abominably in order to have a son of his own.

  2. Miladyblue

    I agree with you about Mary.I think in a lot of ways that she was the solution to Henry’s problems of succession.I think he should have just made her heir and than perhaps she could have held the throne until a son was born.There was of course no good example of a queen regent in england but I think he should have remembered the example of Mary’s grandmother Queen Isabella.

    1. While England had not (yet) had a competent Queen regnant, there were plenty of examples of successful Queens ruling in their own right, with Mary’s grandmother Isabella being the primary of them. Then, too, Margaret of Austria, though only a regent for her father, the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian, was a formidable, influential and powerful woman. Louise of Savoy, mother of King Francois I of France, was also powerful and influential, and as I recall, one of his most important advisors. Marguerite of Alencon/Navarre, too, was an important, powerful and influential woman.

      Even Katharine of Aragon herself proved herself a competent ruler, since she was Henry’s regent while he was away at war, and even managed to successfully wage war with the Scots, much like Isabella did in the unifications wars in Spain.

      So there is no excuse for Henry to have disdained Mary as a weakling. Her only flaw was being a girl.

      Interesting how the first competent Queen Regnant of England turned out to be Mary herself. A pity the experience was not so happy for her.

    1. Henry had spent sometume acting as regent in the North of England in the same way Mary had acted in Wales. So he had some undertanding of how to rule even though the decs\sions were made by his council.

      It’s not too unfancible to believe that Henry would have been a member of Edward’s regency council and may well have been able to stop the Seymour brothers’ headong rush into near tryanny for one and treachery for the other.

      1. It’s a nice thought that Henry would have been on Edward’s council.It would have been interesting see an England ruled by an adult King Edward.Which would have meant no Elizabeth but we still might have seen a very interesting result.

  3. Iv often wondered what sort of personality he had, I should imagine he had a real sense of his own importance, after all he was the only son of the King, albeit a bastard but he must have had high hopes of becoming King himself as he knew his fathers chief concern was having a male heir, he must have hated Anne Boleyn as she threatened his future happiness, he was at her execution and according to some historians he didn’t kneel when everyone else did, sad he died young.

  4. If in fact Henry Fitzroy ignored protocol and refused to kneel at Anne’s beheading, perhaps he was too weak to do so. His own life expired only two months later, probably of tuberculosis.
    As an aside, Henry decision to have this sickly boy witness the trauma of a contentious trial and the resultant execution of Queen Anne is to me incredible and another example of King Henry’s innate cruelty.

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