5 October 1518 – Betrothal of Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, and the Dauphin of France


Francis I and Henry VIII
On 2nd October 1518, the Treaty of London, Cardinal Wolsey’s treaty of “Universal” peace, was signed by France and England. Tournai, which had been conquered by Henry VIII in 1513, was to be restored to France and a marriage was arranged between Henry VIII’s two-year-old daughter, Mary (the future Mary I), and François, the Dauphin of France, who was just a few months old.

Chronicler Edward Hall records:

“The Ambassadours beyng dayly in counsail at Grenewiche, the other gentlemen daunced & passed the tyme in the quenes chambre with ladies & gentlewomen. After long cousailing & muche desyring of the French kyng and his counsayll, it was agreed that the citie of Tourney should be deliuered to the Frenche kynge, he payenge vi. hundred thousande crounes for the citie, and iiii. hundred thousand crounes for the Castell, the which the kyng had buylded, but it was not fully performed: & also he should pay xxiii. M. l. Tourneys, the whiche summe the citezens of the citie of Turney ought to the kyng of England for their liberties and fraunchises.

Vpon these agremetes to be performed, it was concluded that the citye of Tourney should be delivered to the French kyng. The Frenchmen the soner to come to their purpose, made a pretence of mariage to be had between the Dolphyn, sonne & heyre to the Frenche kyng & the lady Mary the kynges daughter, which was agreed vpon this condicion, that if they both consented at lawfull age, then to be ferme & stable, or els not for they were both very young.”

Admiral Bonnivet, standing in for the infant Dauphin, was betrothed to little Mary in a ceremony in Queen Catherine of Aragon’s chamber at Greenwich Palace on 5th October 1518:

“Notarial attestation by Robert Toneys and John Barett that, on 5 Oct. 1518, in the Queen’s Great Chamber at Greenwich, after an oration de laudibus matrimonii by Dr. Tunstal, Lord Bonivet took the hand of the Princess Mary, and espoused her in the name of the Dauphin of France; and the King and Queen espoused the Dauphin, in the person of Lord Bonivet, to the Princess. Bonivet then put a ring on the fourth finger of her right hand, the Cardinal of York assisting: after which the King and Bonivet signed the forms of their oaths. Then the King proceeded from the chamber, and went to his chapel in the manor of Greenwich, where, at the high altar, the King took his oath to the treaty of 4 October last, and the French ambassadors swore that Francis should observe the same.”

As Edward Hall points out, it was decided that the betrothal would only be binding of the couple consented to it when they were older. The betrothal was broken off in 1521 when Mary was instead contracted to marry her cousin, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward (1809) Hall’s chronicle: containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, J. Johnson, p. 594.
  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2, 1515-1518, 4480.
  • “Mary’s suitors – Part I: The Dauphin, François” by Nasim Tadghighi – http://mary-tudor.blogspot.com.es/2010/09/marys-suitors-part-i-dauphin-francois.html

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6 thoughts on “5 October 1518 – Betrothal of Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, and the Dauphin of France”
  1. So was Tournai part of the marriage settlement? As we have seen all of Marys marriage arrangements came to nothing, hard to imagine the rather prudish and deeply pious princess partnered with that most dreadful rake Francois, when you consider what Queen Claude in later years went through with his numerous mistresses I doubt if Mary would have been very happy with him, but when you consider her unhappy life afterwards who knows? And at least she may have had one or two children.

    1. Francis I and Queen Claude were the parents of this dauphin, who was also named Francis, but died before his father.

  2. This was probably the best prospect of a husband and peace treaty hoped for because it was between a potential King and Queen and England and France. Cardinal Wolsey had a real vision of a peaceful Europe by this match and it is interesting that the treaty endured for a number of years, given the fact Henry changed his mind of whom to ally himself to over the coming decades. Mary and the Dauphan met at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and in the returning of Tournai to France, Henry made a profit. He also released England from the financial obligations to the city and the cost of its rebuilding. There is a tower, one of four Henry built or intended which is enormous and must have cost a pretty penny, still there today. Henry, to the pleasure of Queen Katherine, changed his mind a few years later, promising to marry Mary to the new Emperor, Charles V. Poor Mary was never married to anyone and more than any other Princess, a mere pawn in his political merry go round.

    1. Mary was married, to Philip II of Spain. She wasn’t married to anyone while she was still a princess.

  3. There is a charming scene where Mary upon meeting the Dauphin declared she was going to kiss him, being a boy I bet he cringed – so funny, I bet all the regal company smiled.

    1. I loved the way it was done in the Tudors, really funny. She is on the high table, so is the Dauphan and they walk to the centre and are introduced. She gives him a kiss, he squealed and Mary pushed him over, with Henry leaping up like an angry parent while everyone else laughed. A very funny scene.

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