Friday, 24 January 2014

The Tudor's chief mourners

The College of Arms decided who would be the chief mourner at a royal funeral, as they had to be next in status, but not higher, to the deceased as well as being of the same gender. Also, the chief mourner had to hold a banquet after the funeral, and often also pay for this. Black cloth had to provided for all members of the funeral procession, this material alone would be costly. Therefore it was common that members of the family often declined the role of chief mourner.
The chief mourners for many of the Tudor family members;

1492: Queen Elizabeth Woodville, St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle - Anne Plantagenet, her daughter.
1502: Prince Arthur Tudor, Worcester Cathedral - Thomas Howard the Earl of Surrey.
1503: Queen Elizabeth of York, Westminster Abbey - Katherine Plantagenet the Countess of Devon.
1500: Prince Edmund Tudor, Chapel of St Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey - Edward Stafford the Duke of Buckingham.
1509: King Henry VII, Westminster Abbey - Edward Stafford the Duke of Buckingham.
1527: Katherine Plantagenet, Countess of Devon, Tiverton Castle - Lady Elizabeth Carew.
1533: Princess Mary Rose Tudor, Queen of France, Benedictine Abbey at Bury St Edmund's - Frances Brandon.

Funeral of Princess Mary Rose Tudor, Queen Dowager of France

1536: Catharine of Aragon, Peterborough Cathedral - Eleanor Brandon.
1536: Anne Boleyn, Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London - Margaret Wyatt Lee.
1537: Queen Jane Seymour, St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle - Princess Mary Tudor.
1547: King Henry VIII, St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle - Henry Grey the Marquis of Dorset.
1548: Dowager Queen Katherine Parr, St Mary's Chapel at Sudeley Castle - Lady Jane Grey.
1553: King Edward VI, Westminster Abbey - William Paulet the Marquis of Winchester.
1554: Lady Jane Grey, Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London - Mrs Ellen.
1557: Anne of Cleves, Westminster Abbey - Elizabeth Seymour, sister to Queen Jane Seymour.
1557: Mary Howard, widow of Henry FitzRoy, St Michael's Church in Framlingham - Frances Howard the Countess of Surrey.
1558: Queen Mary I, Westminster Abbey - Margaret Douglas.
1559: Frances Brandon, Westminster Abbey - Katherine Grey.
1578: Mary Grey, Westminster Abbey - Susan Bertie the Countess of Kent.
1587: Mary, Queen of Scots, Peterborough Cathedral - Bridget Hussey.
1603: Queen Elizabeth I, Westminster Abbey - Helena Snakenborg the Marchioness of Northampton (Arbella Stuart was removed from this role).

Funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth I

Friday, 17 January 2014

Tudor sibling marriage

In 1528, King Henry VIII was in the midst of a crisis. His desire for a legitimate male heir led to him asking the Pope for a divorce from his current wife Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Cardinal Campeggio was sent as Papal Legate to England in order to examine the case and see what resolution could be made.

Cardinal Campeggio

Cardinal Campeggio arrived in England on the 8th October 1528. He had been instructed by the Pope to secure an outcome which would not include a divorce; he had tried to persuade the King to reconcile with his wife, and when this failed he urged Queen Catherine to enter a convent. A few weeks later, he wrote to Giovanni Baptista Sanga who was a papal advisor that;

"They have thought of marrying the Princess, by dispensation from his Holiness, to the King's natural son, if it can be done. At first I myself had thought of this as a means of establishing the succession, but I do not believe that this design would suffice to satisfy the King's desires."

This suggests a marriage between Princess Mary, then aged 12, and her illegitimate half-brother Henry FitzRoy, then aged 9. This marriage, despite being incestuous, would allow King Henry to pass the throne on to his son as well as his daughter; thereby maintaining the Tudor bloodline.
It is unknown who thought up this proposal, however the Pope agreed to provide the required dispensation for this marriage to go ahead. This permission however what dependent upon the condition that King Henry stops requesting a divorce from his wife. It was this condition which led to King Henry losing interest in the plan.

Henry FitzRoy

Henry FitzRoy was at this time Henry's only acknowledged son, illegitimate as he was. He had been greatly favoured by his father the king his whole life, often being placed before the Princess Mary. With his lack of a legitimate male heir, Henry had often considered passing a law declaring Henry FitzRoy as his heir. In 1536 this was almost certain after King Henry's separation from Anne Boleyn and the declaration that both his daughters Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate - the same legal status as Henry FitzRoy. By 1536 FitzRoy was married to Mary Howard, had experience leading an army as well as handling royal duties such as Parliament meetings. However, he died suddenly that year before any action was formalised.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Catherine Grey, Queen of England and Spain?

Lady Catherine Grey

When Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558 she was put under immense pressure to marry and provide England with an heir to the throne.
Elizabeth was the last of Henry VIII's children, and the Tudor dynasty had an alarming lack of heirs. Elizabeth's closest relations of the royal blood were the children of Henry VIII's two sisters; Margaret and Mary. In his Will, Henry VIII had declared that should his three children die without heirs of their own, the crown was to pass to the heirs of his younger sister Mary - who was close to her brother as she had remained in England whilst Margaret had moved to Scotland when she married. Through this line, Lady Catherine Grey was the heir apparent to Queen Elizabeth. Lady Catherine was the younger sister to Lady Jane Grey, the nine days queen, and was a favourite of Queen Mary I and as such believed that Elizabeth was illegitimate.

Despite their lack of an amicable relationship, Catherine Grey was considered by many to be the rightful heir to the throne. The alternative was Mary, Queen of Scots, however this was not favourable to many English subjects due to her foreign birth and Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth, however, for her whole life refused to ever name an heir. She was unwavering in her silence on the matter.

Her position and potential now made Catherine Grey a political pawn to be played.

King Philip II of Spain, who had been married to Queen Mary and who also had a mind to then marry Queen Elizabeth, schemed to use this situation to his advantage. A scheme came about in which Catherine Grey was to be abducted from Court and shipped to Spain, where she would then be married to a Spanish nobleman. In the eyes of Catholic Europe Elizabeth was illegitimate and therefore had no right to the throne. Philip II would then use Catherine in order to invade England and seize power. Therefore, once Catherine was Queen, Spain would have influence and control in England. It was even thought by some that Lady Catherine should be Queen in place of Elizabeth due to her illegitimacy.
It was common knowledge that Lady Catherine was unhappy at Elizabeth's court; the Spanish ambassador Count Feria even reported that a kidnap may be unnecessary as Lady Catherine may even be persuaded to leave England willingly. Whilst under Queen Mary, Catherine and her younger sister Mary Grey had retained posts in the Privy Chamber, under Elizabeth they were merely 'Ladies of the Presence'. In mid-1559 the Duke of Savoy's envoy reported that Lady Catherine had said 'very arrogant and unseemly words in the hearing of the Queen and others standing by', her exact words were not recorded.

It seems that Queen Elizabeth became aware of the Spanish plot towards Lady Catherine and she changed her treatment of her; Elizabeth suddenly began treating Catherine nicely, calling her 'daughter', restoring her to the Privy Chamber and even mentioned formally adopting her. There were discussions around this time that Catherine was to be married to a Scottish nobleman to improve Anglo-Scots relations.

However, Catherine Grey was not a woman to be used by others. Catherine had long since fallen in love with Edward Seymour and had a mind to marry him. They wanted to marry as early as March 1559. They eventually married in secret, with Edward's sister Jane as the only witness and the only person who knew and encouraged the pair. Shortly after Edward was sent abroad with Thomas Cecil for his education.
In July 1561 the whole scandal was discovered, as Catherine could no longer disguise her pregnancy and sought out Robert Dudley's help. During this time Jane Seymour had died, Catherine had lost the marriage certificate and the priest had disappeared and therefore the fact that a marriage had taken place could not be proved. Edward was recalled to England and the couple were imprisoned separately, with the Queen having the marriage declared null and void, a state in which they remained until Catherine's death in 1568. On her deathbed Catherine sent Edward a ring inscribed with the words 'while I lived, yours'. Catherine and Edward had two sons both born in the Tower; Edward born in 1561 and Thomas born in 1562. Edward was pardoned in 1570, but never stopped searching for the priest who performed the marriage ceremony. In 1606 he achieved his goal, the priest was found and the marriage was declared legal, along with the legitimacy of their sons.
Edward Seymour

Had Catherine not married Edward Seymour, her life may have been very different, perhaps as the next Queen of Spain?

It appears that this rebellious trait was a family one; Lady Catherine's grandmother Princess Mary Rose Tudor had married her second husband Charles Brandon without her brother the king's permission. Catherine's mother Frances took as her second husband her Master of the Horse Adrian Stokes. Catherine's younger sister Mary also eloped with the widower Sergeant Porter Thomas Keyes. Catherine's eldest son Edward married Honora Rogers, a girl far below him in status and therefore his father did all he could to end the marriage. Edward then threatened to commit suicide rather than return to his father's house. Edward and Honora's son William Seymour later secretly married Arbella Stuart.