Friday, 11 April 2014

Henry VIII bastardizing Mary and Elizabeth

The report of Princess Elizabeth's reaction to her demotion from 'Princess' to 'Lady' following her mother Anne Boleyn's divorce and execution is well known. One day in May 1536, Elizabeth turned to a member of her household and asked;

"How haps it governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, today but my Lady Elizabeth?"

Elizabeth at age three, 17th century painting.

The same loss of title had occurred in much the same way three years before to King Henry VIII's elder daughter Mary. Elizabeth was not yet three years old when she was declared illegitimate, so would only understand a change in name and not the full effects of such a thing, whereas Mary was seventeen years old in 1533.

2 Oct 1533 Letter from Princess Mary to Henry VIII

"This morning my chamberlain came and informed me that he had received a letier from Sir Will. Paulet, controller of your House, to the effect that I should remove at once to Hertford castle. I desired to see the letter; in which was written "the lady Mary, the King's daughter," leaving out the name of Princess. Marvelled at this, thinking your Grace was not privy to it, not doubting but you take me for your lawful daughter, barn in true matrimony. If I agreed to the contrary I should offend God; in all other things you shall find me an obedient daughter. From your manor of Beaulien, 2 Oct."

It would appear that neither daughter was fully aware of the changes going on in the king's marital affairs at the time. It seems that no one had taken the time to explain to either princess that the king had gotten his divorces and the effects of that on their titles and positions. Both girls had initially thought the simple title of 'Lady' was a mistake, and not that they had in fact lost their rights to the name of 'Princess'. Both of these girls are deserving of sympathy at this time as suddenly they are stripped of the title they had held their whole lives and have been given no explanation. Their change in title would also have put the Tudor girls in a mindset of confusion, as now they were legally no longer the legitimate daughters of the king; what were they now, and what more changes were to come?

7 June 1534

Lady Mary wrote letters to Eustace Chapuys, ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor - Mary's cousin - protesting the declaration that she was now illegitimate and had lost her titles of 'Princess of Wales'. She declared that she will not marry, enter a monastery or do any anything that her father demands of her without the consent of her mother.
One of her letters included the following sentence;

"Ita ut universa et singula in hac scriptura habentur, dicimus, narramus, asserimus, asseveramus ac protestamur de mera nostra scientia ac matura deliberatione, teste meo manuali signo et sigillo meo." 

(A very rough translation of this is; "plunder as a whole and the details of this Scripture we have, we say, our identity, we maintain, assert and protest of a mere fact of our knowledge and after mature deliberation on the testimony of my manual, a sign and a seal in my face.")

22 June 1536

It was not until after Anne Boleyn's death and her father's marriage to Jane Seymour that Lady Mary was able to reconcile herself to having been declared illegitimate and to no longer being her father's heir. On the 22nd June 1536 Mary wrote to her father King Henry, in this letter Mary acknowledges the annulment of her parents' marriage, and therefore her illegitimacy. 

"I should not again offend your majesty by the denial or refusal of any such articles and commandments as it may please your highness to address to me"...
"[I] recognize and acknowledge that the marriage formerly had between his majesty and my mother, the late princess dowager, was by God's law and man's law incestuous and unlawful." 

Mary regretted this letter for the rest of her life, yet it served to reconcile her with her father and began to mend the fractured royal family. 

No comments:

Post a Comment