Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Henry VII: The First Tudor King Part I

Margaret Beaufort, the Countess
of Richmond

Today I'm starting my series of posts one of my all time favourite Tudor characters, King Henry VII. No, not the one with six wives, That's Henry VIII! This was long before that and is the story of how one minor claimant from the House of Lancaster who lived most of his life as a penniless exile rose to becoming King of England. Let's begin with a little background info on Henry's family.

Sketch of Henry VII
His grandparents, Owen Tudor and Katherine of Valois were married in secret and once word of their marriage leaked out, people weren't too happy about it. But, that didn't stop Katherine's son by her first marriage, King Henry VI from making his Tudor half-brothers, Edmund and Jasper earls. In fact, they were the first Welshmen to be raised to an English peerage. Edmund, being the eldest was given the little, and slightly royal, Margaret Beaufort as a bride. Even though we don't have an exact account of how they felt about each other, given that Margaret wanted to be called "Countess of Richmond" (The title she gained by marriage to Edmund) for the rest of her life must've meant that she held Edmund Tudor in great affection. And Margaret was, based off her other behaviors, a most mature child at age 13 so Edmund liked her too.

They were married and the couple set off for Wales soon afterwards. The newlyweds liked each so much that Margaret soon became pregnant and both soon-to-be parents were no doubt, overjoyed. A Tudor heir with Lancasterian royal blood was going to be born and this child would certainly come to enjoy royal favour. Or, so they thought. When Margaret was about 6 months pregnant, Edmund went away to stop small uprisings by the Yorkist lord William Herbert. No big deal right? Edmund had spent most of his life suppressing uprisings like these no doubt he would soon return.

Well, not this time.

Edmund died after being taken prisoner by Herbert at his castle of Carmethan. What mostly likely happened is that William Herbert, being a now Yorkist wanted Edmund out of the way since Edmund and the duke of York were now on bad terms. So Edmund fell ill, which was probably a natural cause but was then neglected and left to die on Herbert's orders. (of course he could've been poisoned but that's a VERY unlikely scenario.)

When Margaret heard of Edmund's death (he wasn't yet thirty!) she was no doubt devastated. She was only 13 and Edmund had not only been her husband, but also her protector and now she was without him. Also, in few months she was going to have a baby! Luckily she went to her brother-in-law's castle of Pembroke. (Jasper had been created earl of Pembroke) where she gave birth to Edmund's child, a son who was named Henry in honour of the king. It had been a long labour for Margaret and doing so so young left her unable to have anymore children so Henry was very precious to her. And Jasper as well, for he too was devastated by the loss of his brother and had to take up Edmund's place as protector of Wales, as well as protector of Henry.

For the first year or so of his life Henry was pampered with attention from his mother and uncle at the castle of Pembroke. But, Margaret was then called to marry a much older than her, the second son of the Duke of Buckingham (Henry Stafford) and had to say a painful goodbye to her brother-in-law and young son. But she could probably visit occasionally and life seemed like it was going to be good for the new little earl of Richmond. But he was born during the midst of the dreadful Wars of the Roses and anything could happen in those times

And, everything, it seems did.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Henry VII!!!!! (and an intro to a new series)

King Henry VII
There was never a better day than today to start a series of posts on Henry Tudor, the founder of the Tudor Dynasty and my favourite Tudor character because 556 years ago today, a little baby boy was born to a 13 year old widow in her brother-in-law's castle of Pembroke. Back then, no one would ever expected that this little baby would grow up to become king of England. And he was quite unlike any other king of England, he never had a pampered upbringing rather, he lived as a penniless exile for most of his life, a prisoner practically that had to rely on the goodwill of others. Also, he was never Prince of Wales, just the earl of Richmond and not everyone quite agreed with that.

Yes, if there was ever a most unlikely candidate for the throne of England, Henry Tudor was it.
But he had been raised in the shadow of the throne and certainly ready for when the time came for him to occupy it, much to the guidance of his uncle, Jasper Tudor. Yet, for some reason the picture of Henry VII that seems to stick in people's heads (if they've even heard of him!) is that he cold-hearted and most famous for raising taxes! I know whenever i talk to someone about Henry VII, they think i mean his second son, Henry VIII (that's EIGHTH for those who don't know their roman numerals) and then I tell them he's the father of Henry VIII and that's all they seem to remember. But, there's more to it than that. the first Henry Tudor's accomplishments can proudly go up against that of say... his granddaughter Elizabeth I.

His story has always been captivated for me and over my years of studying the period, he's become my favourite character to read about. But, who was Henry VII? and what exactly did he do that made him so great? Forget everything you think you know about the first Tudor king for in this series I hope to dispel rumours and set the record the straight. Starting tomorrow I shall start the series off with a good account of the early years and later I will dive into his actual reign. And as usual to finish it off, I dispel misconception that the media and such has made us believe.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Personality of Cecily Neville

Cecily Neville
Cecily Neville, even though it's odd to think about, is Henry VIII's great-grandmother! Since she is, after all, the grandmother of Elizabeth of York and in her lifetime was a staunch supporter of the house of York. But, what was Cecily like as a person? I mean, if you've read Shakespeare's Richard III, then you'll probably think her as the Yorkist version of Margaret Beaufort: Pious yet, ambitious as well. Well, we do know for sure that Cecily was ambitious and pious but at two different times in her life. Allow me to explain...

When she was young and had only recently married her husband, the duke of York (Yorkie as i like to call him) she was known as the "the rose of Raby" which meant she was considered a great beauty. We don't have any portraits of her so we can never know for certain what she looked like but based off portraits of her children you could make a pretty good guess. She was certainly a beauty but she was also conceited and demanding and it earned her the nickname "Proud Cis" once she and her husband were at court and it was one most rightful earned.

As nice as you might have seen Cecily portrayed she was a real drama queen. Since her husband was trying to take the throne she thought herself as a queen ands acted like one, showing off and bragging all the time about how SHE should be Queen instead of Margaret! (of anjou). She was also very involved in the upbringing of her younger children, Margaret, George, and Richard (the future duchess of burgundy, duke of Clarence and king of England respectively)

During the reign of Edward IV, her son, however things started to change. She was furious with Edward for marrying that upstart Wydeville. At this point in time she seemed to take a quiet life, she became much more pious and stayed far away from the court. She was so mad at Edward that she even brought up the rumour that he wasn't Yorkie's son but that of her and french archer! (was it true? see my post "Was Edward IV real of the house of York?" )

But Cecily also did something most unusual for the time period, she lived on into the reign of King Henry VII and died in 1495 (the same year that Jasper Tudor died!) and Cecily had lived in into quite the old age.

So was Cecily also the sweet little old lady that Shakespeare portrayed? Nope! only in the last years of her life!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou's First Meeting

Have you ever wondered what kind of first meeting Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou had? If you didn't know better it would seem natural that the English king would meet his future bride in a very formal matter but, this was hardly formal. (And Henry VI was hardly a normal king!) This kind of meeting was also later practiced when Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves. So, what the heck am i talking about?

Henry VI
Margaret of Anjou
Here, allow me to explain. Henry VI sent the Marquis (and later Duke) of Suffolk, William de la Pole to fetch Margaret, his future bride from France and bring her to England. Margaret fell ill and was recovering when she first got there and Henry was so excited to see her but didn't want to bother her since she was recovering, what to do??

The answer was that Henry VI wrote a letter to Margaret then, dressed up as the squire who was the bring it to her. Margaret let him enter the room and he presented the letter to her. She didn't take much noticed to him and instead, focused her attention on the letter. The squire (aka, Henry, the king of England) was sent off by Margaret who probably then made remarks about what the letter contained the her ladies, the English ones were probably giggling.

They then informed Margaret that the squire was the King and no doubt, she was shocked and wanted to apologize. One can only imagine what she was feeling then. But it is certainly an unusual first meeting between a King and his future Queen. Henry VIII heard of this and thought he'd give it a try when he met Anne of Cleves for the first time. Needless to say the results were similar and Henry VIII's ego wounded when Anne didn't recognize him.
(But can you blame a young girl who spent her whole life in German and didn't speak a word of English?!)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Tudor Claim to the Throne

Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor King and Queen
Ever wondered just what kinda claim the Tudors had to throne anyway? Well, hopefully after reading this you'll know! It all goes back to King Edward III, (famous for starting the hundred years war!) who married Philippa of Hainult and had like, a ton of kids mostly sons and they're the ones we're concerned about. Edward III's son was named Edward, aka, "The Black Prince" since he was a prince and liked wearing black. The Black Prince had one son, who became king Richard II at age 10 upon the death of Edward III (the black prince died before his father did)

Now everything seemed simple, Richard II and his heirs would forever rule England...

Edward III had other sons, the second eldest was Lionel, who married and only had one daughter (Anne Mortimer) before he died. So since the female line didn't count anyway the next eldest son, John of Gaunt seemed a pretty big threat. He had married Blanche of Lancaster and became the duke of Lancaster they had had a son Henry Bolingbroke (a surname he kinda chose himself). John of Gaunt also had a daughter  by his second wife who then married into the Royal Spanish family. So from John's eldest son, began to House of Lancaster (which Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were the last representatives of) when Henry Bolingbroke overthrow the (now adult) Richard II. It was Bolingbroke's son who was Henry V, the victor of Agincourt. and Bolinbroke's grandson was Henry VI.

But John of Gaunt also had had a mistress by the name of Katherine Swynford. Together they had four children before their marriage (and surprisingly, none after...) The eldest of the four, John Beaufort had had offspring. the eldest also being named John who later fathered Margaret Beaufort. One of the eldest John Beaufort's sons was the famous Lancasterian, Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset. But that's not important, what is important is that four were illegitimate and barred from the throne. Henry IV (Bolingbroke) passed a law, once king, making his Beaufort half-siblings legally legitimate but not everyone agreed with him on that.

Where do the Tudors fit into this? The first Tudor monarch (and my favourite!) Henry VII was the son of Margaret Beaufort. Who, during the Wars of the Roses) was the rightful Beaufort heiress. Though being of the illegitimate line made things a little more suspect. Now that might not seem very strong but, there's another aspect of the Tudor claim i didn't mention.

Henry VII was Welsh on his father's side and he had always he descended from ancient Welsh royalty, including the legendary King Arthur (hence the name of his first son) though that last one probably wasn't true, it's very likely Henry VII could've had a drop of Welsh royal ancestry along with the Beaufort claim.

So it's true, the Tudor claim to the throne was shaky at best but, it clearly was enough to win them the throne in 1485!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Uncommon Names From Tudor Times

During the Tudor age, many different people from different years were called by the same title and SOOOOO many people were named after each other (i.e. Margaret Tudor named her daughter Margaret) but luckily for us, a few people had some creativity in their lives and came up with some unusual names. Let's took a look at some the uncommon names first,
    A portrait showing the Tudor Dynasty (minus Henry VII)
  • Francis Walsingham's wife and a daughter of Cecily Neville and the duke of York (who died young) was Usurla
  • Lady Lisle real name was Honour Grenville
  • The youngest daughter of Edward IV and a wealthy countess during Anne Boleyn's time were named Bridget.
  • During the Wars of the Roses period there were practically no noblewomen named Mary or Jane.
  • The Welsh were pretty distinct with their names, for example in the Tudor family themselves, there was Maredudd (pronounced Meredith) Tudor and Owen Tudor. And then Owen Tudor's children, Edmund and Jasper Tudor.
  • Anne of Cleves' sisters were named Amelia and Sybille, her grandmother's name was Mechtild
  • A friend and (co-conspirator) of Eleanor of Gloucester's was named Margery (though there's a small chance it could've been Margaret)
  • John Dudley and Jane Guildford were pretty creative with some of their children's names, For example, Robert, Guildford, and Ambrose Dudley

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Really Happened to the Princes in the Tower?

An Artist's interpretation of the Princes
in the Tower

Can we really know for sure? No. But i think I've just about reached a very, VERY possible conclusion. One that might appease both Traditionalists and Ricardians (or Revisionists, they like to call themselves Ricardians though) And of course, I've been doing (and still am!) extensive research in the mystery surrounding the princes. (Since next year in high school I'm required to do a research paper on ANY topic, I'm planning on writing about the Princes I want to get as much research on the topic as i can.) Something happened behind the Tower walls in summer, 1483 and i believe I've found a reasonable answer.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

John de La Pole, Earl of Lincoln: A Possible Yorkist Heir

Today's post is about a Tudor character that I, though proudly Lancastrian, have found very interesting: John de la Pole (the earl of Lincoln) He was named Richard III's heir given many lands and titles under the rule of the White rose. (The white rose a symbol of the house of York). He is the son of Richard III's sister Elizabeth, and her husband. (Also named John de la Pole, son of the staunch Lancastrian duke of Suffolk. But what about Lincoln that makes him so interesting? Well,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Random Tudor Facts!

Here's some random Tudor facts I bet you didn't know! (but maybe you did, either way...oh well!)
  • Both Anne Boleyn and Richard, Duke of York (not the prince in the Tower) had a falcon badge
  • Some of the first settlers in America came on a boat called "The Arbella", named after Arbella Stuart
  • Elizabeth I spent much of her youth at Hatfield, where Jasper Tudor was born
  • Perkin Warbeck's wife, Katherine Gordon was actually a cousin of King James IV of Scotland
  • Margaret Beaufort actually helped Henry VIII rule for the first week or so of his reign, (before she died)
  • Charles Brandon's father, William Brandon was Henry VII's standard bearer and was killed at Bosworth.
  • William De la Pole (grandfather of the earl of Lincoln and supporter of Lancaster) was married to Alice Chaucer, a descendant of the famous poet
  • If Owen Tudor and anglicized his name differently, we could've had the Meredith dynasty!
  • Later in her reign, Elizabeth I's dresses were much to heavy and delicate to wash so, they never were, they were just perfumed!
  • Rizzio was made Mary Queen of Scots' secretary of French affairs, even though he was Italian and didn't speak French.
  • Henry VII was actually named after King Henry VI
  • Elizabeth I was named for both her grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Boleyn
And pretty soon I'll be post more random facts for you!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Was Edward IV Really of the House of York?

This a question I've been wondering for the past few days after reading more into the allegation that Edward, earl of March (and King Edward IV) was actually the illegitimate son of Cecily Neville and a French Archer called Blaybourne. (and surprisingly enough, Cecily started the rumour!) The answer seems easy, Edward's really York's son, Cecily was just mad at him and said it out of anger, she didn't mean it... or did she? Upon closer examination the answer is not a simple as that!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Life of Owen Tudor Part IV

In 1457, everything seemed to be going well for the Tudor family, Edmund Tudor had just married the wealthy heiress, Margaret Beaufort,and Owen Tudor was expected a royal grandchild. (Margaret Beaufort is a descendant from John of Gaunt, though, rather illegitimately) But, in the Wars of the Roses things can change, and change very quickly (just look at the Lancasterian Redemption!) For the Tudor family, things changed quickly in a negative sense. What I mean is, Edmund left his pregnant, 13 year old wife, at one of his manor to fight the Yorkist rebel, William Herbert. Edmund was captured by Herbert and imprisoned at Carmethan, where he soon caught the plague. (and it's my opinion that Herbert won't get doctors and just left Edmund to die! Would he really want to help his greatest enemy? or maybe (but less likely) Edmund was poisoned!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Life of Owen Tudor Part III

 A drawing of mine showing the Tudor family. On the top row is Owen and Katherine.
In the second row is Edmund, Margaret Beaufort, Jasper, Katherine Wydeville (Jasper's wife) an Owen jr.
Henry VII is the little kid at the bottom
Owen Tudor and his wife Katherine of Valois had lived quietly in secret at little manors with their three sons, Edmund, Jasper, and Owen jr for quite some time. But somehow word leaked out and Owen was arresting (the lord protector, Humphrey of Gloucester had ordered that anyone that who married the Queen Dowager before the king was old enough to give permission could be arrested.) Katherine was probably then ordered to stay at an abbey and her two sons, Edmund and Jasper were given into the care of Suffolk's sister, Katherine de la Pole.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Life of Owen Tudor Part II

Queen Katherine of Valois

I believe i left off with King Henry V's sudden death, so, that's where I'll pick up. After Henry V died, the state of England was as such: the King was a nine months old baby, Henry VI, Katherine of Valois was a young, pretty widow, the king's brother Humphrey of Gloucester was named protector and the king's brother John of Bedford was made regent in the recently conquered France. Where did Owen Tudor fit into this? He had recently moved over from the King's household into the Queen's so he was still at court. Katherine of Valois was of course, very upset by her husband's death  but, was probably more upset about losing in her son (who was given over to Alice Butler to be raised as fit a king). Katherine found comfort in none but, Owen Tudor!