Mary and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

On this day in history, Henry VIII’s beloved sister, Princess Mary Tudor, was born at Richmond Palace. Happy 515th Birthday Mary!

You can find out all about Mary in the following articles:-

In “The Tudors” series the character of Princess Margaret Tudor, as played by Gabrielle Anwar, was an amalgamation of Henry VIII’s two sisters, Margaret and Mary, and was closer to Mary. However, there were some inaccuracies in the portrayal of her character and some things that were missed out:-

  • Mary did not marry the ageing King of Portugal, she married King Louis XII of France when she was 18 and he was 52.
  • Mary married Louis XII in 1514, not in the 1520s.
  • She did not murder her first husband (the King of Portugal in the show), Louis died of natural causes less than three months after the marriage.
  • Mary was married to her second husband, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, for 18 years, until her death in 1533 – It appears much shorter than that in the show.
  • Mary had 4 children with Charles Brandon – Henry Brandon (1516-1522), Lady Frances Brandon (1517-1559), Lady Eleanor Brandon (1519-1547) and Henry Brandon, 1st Earl of Lincoln (1523-1534).
  • Mary died in 1533, nearly 3 years after Cardinal Wolsey, yet she dies before him in “The Tudors”.

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19 thoughts on “The Birth of Mary Tudor, Queen of France – 18 March 1496”
  1. Happy birthday, Mary!

    I believe she was also the grandmother (via Frances) of Jane Grey, the ill-fated Nine Days Queen, no?

    1. Yes, that is true. Mary married Charles Brandon in France in secret without Henry’s permission. The King was furious but Mary was his favourite sister and he did come round to the idea and allowed them to be married officially in England a couple of months later. Charles Brandon had actually committed treason by marrying a royal without the King’s permission but due to Henry’s favour and Wolsey’s intervention he and Mary were let off with a fine.

      1. Actually Henry had approved of the marriage before they married in secret. The letters between Wolsey and Brandon while he was in France are quite clear about that.
        “[He was] content that with good order and saving of his honor ye should have in marriage his said sister.”

        Henry had promised Mary that she could choose her second husband and he knew apparently that her choice would fall on Brandon, because he had made Brandon promise not to propose to her while still in France. He was furious because they had not waited and it was a political disaster for him, that his sister was married again, before they had concluded the negotiations about her dowry.

        I also think Brandon did not commit treason by marrying her. The law about it being treasonable to marry a female relative of the king without permission was only enacted when Henry’s niece Margaret Douglas secretely married Thomas Howard in 1536. So technically Brandon didn’t do anything treasonable in 1515.

        There is a nicer version of the wedding portrait of them by the way. The original in the collection of the Earl of Yarbourough:

      2. King Francis I of France helped allow Brandon and Mary marry in France (for his own reasons. Mary couldn’t be used as a royal bride against him and maybe Francois had a sentimental streak). In gratitude, their first daughter was named Frances after the king 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday Mary Rose! There’s always been something about this Tudor that I’ve always loved, which was why I hated The Tudors portrayal of her (or the merging of her and Margaret). She may have been my least favorite character of the series and that was due to a lot of things, among them, Ms. Anwar’s portrayal. She never seemed to carry herself like a princess; I’ve mentioned how she sometimes dressed like a barmaid — and what was with that HAIR! I don’t think I ever saw her in a hood or caul or cap. Anyway, the series ill-served Mary Rose.

    And both she and sister Margaret deserve a miniseries of their own! I don’t think I’ve seen the “real” Margaret in any Tudor portrayal, and as far as I can remember, the only time Mary Rose has been center-stage was in When Knighthood Was in Flower. The silent version starred William Randolph Hearst mistress Marion Davies as Mary; it was remade in the 50’s as The Sword and the Rose with Glynis Johns (Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins as Mary.

    1. I agree about the portrayal of Mary in The Tudors. Gabrielle Anwar is a decent enough actress, but in my opinion she was miscast in the role of Mary. She was too old, for one thing; Gabrielle’s a beautiful woman, but she’s very obviously not in the bloom of youth anymore, and it was jarring to see her playing the role of a young princess bride.

      And I laughed at your comment that she carried herself like a barmaid, because it’s so true! I think they were trying to portray her as spirited and spoiled (which the real Mary could very well have been), but that could have been done without making her seem so coarse! She came off as quite unappealing.

      1. Kari — you pegged it! I knew Ms. Anwar from some French movies I’d seen, but you are so right. Although she’s an attractive woman, she’s obviously not 18 and even if they had only expected her to play a young princess, that didn’t even work. And I still don’t buy the idea of the producers that people would be confused with two characters named Mary, although one was an adult and one a child!

        Oh I’m sure Mary was spirited and good-natured and yep, spoiled too (as the baby girl). I’ve always had this image of her and a young Henry dancing or singing or play-acting before Elizabeth of York in those happy days before Arthur died and the young Duke was still just the spare. I imagine Margaret being self-important and rehearsing her role as Queen of Scotland, while Henry and Mary still managed to be children for a while longer and staying particularly close. I don’t doubt that Henry VIII and his now subservient sister had some major disagreements over the contract with Louis. They wouldn’t be Tudors otherwise. But can you imagine the great scenes we could have had on the series with the three surviving siblings and all their marital woes and happiness? Along with the wives and Henry’s children — now THAT would have been a great show! (And kick in poor what’s her name not having to go naked at the drop of a hat too!)

        I’m glad someone else thought “barmaid” too. LOL I remember in one of her last scenes, she tells Henry to return to Catherine and give up Anne; I’m pretty sure she used some derogatory term to describe Anne too. I couldn’t help telling the TV “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!” Natalie carried herself the way I imagine Anne did, especially as she was promoted. Ms. Anwar was just missing a tankard and a serving tray! Ugh!

      1. She was just called Mary, the Rose has been added as a way of differentiating her from the other Mary Tudor, Mary I, and she was not referred to as Mary Rose in her lifetime, as far as I can see.

  3. Happy Birthday Mary. Out of all the characters at Henry’s court, these two are my favorites. She was a lively spirit and Charles was her knight in shining armour.
    I’d love to see a movie about Margaret and Mary. They did what was asked of them by their King the first time, and then lived the rest of lives as they chose.

  4. Managed to find a scene from The Sword and the Rose if you’d like to check it out:

    I like Glynnis John’s spirited Mary, but the actor playing Henry (I can’t think of his name — sorry) is WAY too old. Henry should have been about 25, right? And poor Catherine of Aragon. If that hood was any tighter it’d crush her skull! What a dour, joyless portrayal and nothing like the real woman. I’m just wondering who the grinning minx was that Henry ends up dancing with: Bessie Blount? Mary Boleyn? LOL

  5. I completely agree. I love Gabrielle Anwar, but they should have cast a MUCH younger actress to play Mary (Margaret).

  6. And so Claire, did Mary die of consumption as depicted in the series, “The Tudors?” What do not understand, and I am just venting here, is why a production as well done as “The Tudors” find it so difficult to completely research the subject matter and go by the facts. Such as who she married really……..throwing in that she murdered her husband…I mean why do they do that when the real truth is just as interesting. It just muddles the minds of the viewers who are so easily swayed into actually believing what movies put out there. Then it takes people like our Claire to sweep up the mess of lies they created and try and re-program the audience with the actually truth….That is why we appreciate you Claire and Tim…..

    1. Hi David,
      Her cause of death is not known but she had been suffering with ill health for a number of years, so perhaps it was a type of cancer or some other type of longer term disease.
      That is one of the things I got really annoyed with in “The Tudors” – the amalgamation of Margaret and Mary into one character, it was horrid and it didn’t work, particularly when they deviated from both stories anyway! I also didn’t like the whole Brandon and Brigitte (or whatever the French girl was called!). I think they probably did it because they lost the actress who played Catherine Brandon, but that annoyed me too!
      Thanks, David!

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