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. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

The person of Queen Mary Tudor

Princess Mary, c.1525
Lady Mary, 1544
Queen Mary, 1554

The Venetian ambassador Giovanni Michieli wrote this description about Queen Mary in 1557.

She is of low rather than of middling stature, but, although short, she has not personal defect in her limbs, nor is any part of her body deformed.  She is of spare and delicate frame, quite unlike her father, who was tall and stout; nor does she resemble her mother, who, if not tall, was nevertheless bulky.  Her face is well formed, as shown by her features and lineaments, and as seen by her portraits.  When younger she was considered, not merely tolerably handsome, but of beauty exceeding mediocrity.  At present, with the exception of some wrinkles, caused more by anxieties than by age, which makes her appear some years older, her aspect, for the rest, is very grave.  Her eyes are so piercing that they inspire not only respect, but fear in those on whom she fixes them, although she is very shortsighted, being unable to read or do anything else unless she has her sight quite close to what she wishes to peruse or to see distinctly.  Her voice is rough and loud, almost like a man's, so that when she peaks she is always heard a long way off.  In short, she is a seemly woman, and never to be loathed for ugliness, even at her present age, without considering her degree of queen.  But whatever may be the amount deducted from her physical endowments, as much more may with truth, and without flattery, be added to those of her mind, as, besides the facility and quickness of her understanding, which comprehends whatever is intelligible to others, even to those who are not of her own sex (a marvellous gift for a woman), she is skilled in five languages, not merely understanding, but speaking four of them fluently - English, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, in which last, however, she does not venture to converse, although it is well known to her; but the replies she gives in Latin, and her very intelligent remarks made in that tongue surprise everybody....

Besides woman's work, such as embroidery of every sort with the needle, she also practices music, playing especially on the clavichord and on the lute so excellently that, when intent on it...she surprised the best performers, both by the rapidity of her hand and by her style of playing.  Such are her virtues and external accomplishments.  Internally, with the exception of certain trifles, in which, to say the truth, she is like other women, being sudden and passionate, and close and miserly, rather more so than would become a bountiful and generous queen, she in other respects has no notable imperfections; whilst in certain things she is singular and without an equal, for not only is she brave and valiant, unlike other timid and spiritless women, but she courageous and resolute that neither in adversity nor peril did she ever even display or commit any act of cowardice or pusillanimity, maintaining always, on the contrary, a wonderful grandeur and dignity, knowing what became the dignity of a sovereign as well as any of the most consummate statesmen in her service; so that from her way of proceeding and from the method observed by her (and in which she still perseveres), it cannot be denied that she shows herself to have been born of truly royal lineage.

[She is also subject to] a very deep melancholy, much greater than that to which she is constitutionally liable, from menstrous retention and suffocation of the matrix to which, for many years, she has been often subject, so that the remedy of tears and weeping, to which from childhood she has been accustomed, and still often used by her, is not sufficient; she requires to be blooded either from the foot or elsewhere, which keeps her always pale and emaciated.