October 5 – The future Mary I gets betrothed as part of a treaty between Henry VIII and Francis I

On this day in Tudor history, 5th October 1518, at Greenwich Palace, Princess Mary (the future Mary I), daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, became betrothed.

The two-year-old princess was betrothed to Francis (François), the Dauphin of France, who was just a few months old.

The betrothal between Mary and Francis was part of a treaty agreed between England and France, between Kings Henry VIII and Francis I.

Let me share details of what happened at the betrothal ceremony, as well as explaining what else the treaty involved. Mary and Francis never married, so what happened?


On this day in Tudor history, two-year-old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, became betrothed to François, the Dauphin of France, who was just a few months old, in a ceremony in Queen Catherine of Aragon’s chamber at Greenwich Palace.

According to the notarial attestation by Robert Toneys and John Barett, after an oration de laudibus matrimonii by Dr Cuthbert Tunstall, Admiral Bonivet, who was standing in for the Dauphin at the ceremony, took little Princess Mary’s hand “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 place a ring on the fourth finger of Mary’s right hand, with the assistance of Cardinal Wolsey. King Henry VIII and Bonivet then signed oaths.

After the ceremony, the king went to the high altar of his chapel at Greenwich and took an oath to the treaty that had been agreed the day before, The French ambassadors also swore to this oath on behalf of King Francis I. The treaty that they were agreeing to, and which this betrothal was part of, was the Treaty of London, Cardinal Wolsey’s treaty of “Universal” peace. The treaty also stated that Tournai, which had been conquered by Henry VIII in 1513, was to be restored to France, with Francis I agreeing to pay 600,000 crowns for the city and 400,000 crowns for the castle which had been built there. There was also further payment due from Francis on behalf of the citizens of Tournai, “for their liberties and franchises”.

Chronicler Edward Hall recorded “Upon these agreements to be performed, it was concluded that the city of Tournai should be delivered to the French king. The Frenchmen the sooner to come to their purpose, made a pretence of marriage to be had between the Dauphin, son & heir to the French king & the lady Mary the king’s daughter, which was agreed upon this condition, that if they both consented at lawful age, then to be firm & stable, or else not for they were both very young.”

As Hall points out, it was decided that the betrothal would only be binding if Mary and François 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. Of course, that didn’t go ahead either, and Mary didn’t marry until 1554, when she married ex-fiancé Charles V’s son, Philip of Spain.

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