The lone child of the Prince of Wales and his utterly unwanted wife resided above her parent’s apartments in the nursery of Carlton House. When Charlotte was a year old, her mother moved out of Carlton House and to a place five miles away in Blackheath.
Not that either parent could be describe as tentative yet, she saw more of her father than her mother since she lived at Carlton House, the Prince’s residence though his attendance there was spotty at best. Charlotte’s staff raised her. When she was an eight-year-girl, Charlotte left behind that place and moved into Warwick House. With this move as well, the staff that had been with her since her first days were replaced. Warwick House was east of Carlton House and nothing more than a crumbling old brick building.
Her new governess was dowager Lady de Clifford. This fifty plus woman was in charge of the “…temperamental tomboy…” The good-natured woman couldn’t discipline her effectively since the princess who may not behave as a princess yet she knew her position and used it to her benefit. Like children everywhere still do.
Nevertheless, the two ladies grew fond of each other and Lady de Clifford did all to make Charlotte’s life less lonely. She had one of her grandsons, the Honorable George Keppe befriend her, a friendship that would last through her lifetime. These two kids got up to much trouble. Later in Keppe’s life when he became the Earl of Albemarle, he wrote a memoir of their childhood. In his memoir, he shared stories which include stories of “..fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears.” He even shared the time that when Charlotte and George visited his parents at their home named Earl’s Court. She slipped through a side gate and joined in the back of the crowd that had gathered outside the house to see the princess.
Yet, it was all fun. Children especially Princess’s must be educated. That task fell to Retired Reverend Dr. John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter. The man had tutored the Duke of Kent and had a long list of court positions. “He was sincerely pious and a connoisseur of painting and drawing. But he was pompous, homourless, dogmatic, willful and absurdly old-fashioned.” The man “…still wore a wig and spoke affectedly.” That man pronounced bishop as “bishup”. At nine, Charlotte graced him with the nickname “the Great UP.”
Charlotte, described as blue-eyed and with peculiarly blonde hair with beautifully shaped hands and feet, had a great talent for acting and mimicry. So, when Lady de Clifford and the “Great Up” argued about Charlotte’s lessons, the Princess would stand behind the bishop and mock him. Lady de Clifford struggled to hold back her laughter while trying to best the man. She would stand behind him, “…jutting out her lower lip, waving her arms and generally ridiculing his expressions and mannerisms in an exaggerated mime.”
This young Princess was educated in religious studies, English, Latin, ancient history, and religious instruction as well as reading, writing, French, German, modern history, and music, dancing, drawing, and writing. For her excellent education, the young princess was much like other children. If in trouble, she wasn’t about a little lie to get out of trouble or her studies.
In 1806, Charlotte saw one of her household writing and asked her what she was doing and was told that she was making her will. The Princess declared that she would too. She left many of her belonging to various staff and her birds to a Mrs. Gagrin and her dog or dogs to Mrs. Anna Hatton, her chambermaid.
In 1809, Charlotte’s tutor was replaced because Dr. Nott, tutor to the Princess had written to Princess Caroline. And no pleading save him, the man who was an “adoptive parent” and Charlotte wrote, “If we never meet again, keep for me your regard and affection.”
Yet, she met another who would love her–the Duke of Brunswick, her uncle William. He is describe as “bluff but dignified and patient.” The loving uncle listened to Charlotte’s “lisping chatter” and never tired of hearing it. The princess loved him so that she returned home and “painted a black moustache on her face and marched up and down in military manner barking guttural expletives, which she hoped very much sounded like German swear words.” Just like her uncle.
Also came the Honorable Margaret Mercer Elphinstone, a companion and confidante for the Princess.
As she grew older, Charlotte learned that she would have to be careful in deed and word, whether written or spoken. Now fifteen, her life would change. In January 1811, the government presented the Regency Bill. On February 6, the Prince of Wales was sworn in as Prince Regent.
In May 1499, months after the birth of the Tudor’s sixth child, Prince Arthur married by proxy Katherine of Aragon, Infanta to King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. Henry, now, had his connection to the powerful Spanish nation. Katherine would arrive in England when she reached fourteen in December along with ladies who were beautiful in order to make “English” connections.
Those connections were endangered with the arrival of another pretender appeared on the scene and though, Henry took care of him quickly, the Spanish King and Queen’s faith on Henry’s hold on the English throne. Especially since there was a very true threat to Henry’s crown, that threat was the Earl of Warwick.
Henry had to rid himself of the claimant to the throne, one who had a better claim than Henry since he was the son of the Duke of Clarence (brother to Edward IV and uncle to Elizabeth of York). Alison Weir writes in Elizabeth of York, “the likelihood is that Ferdinand warned Henry VII that while Warwick lived, the Infanta would not be coming to England.”
How was Henry to accomplish this when Warwick committed no crime and was locked up in the Tower of London? But Henry needed the Spanish alliance and wasn’t the king the law? He just had to find a way.
Robert Cleymound met with Lord Warwick in his cell and plotted to “fire and seize the Tower, thus facilitating his escape to Flanders, whence he would make war upon Henry VII.” Then contact was made with Warbeck who was locked in the Tower and just below Warwick’s own cell. The plot was that Warbeck and Warwick would escape from the tower and Warbeck was told that Warwick would make him king whereas Warwick was told he would be king. But Cleymound claimed Warbeck informed the king of the plot.
Warwick was tried on November 19 in Westminster Hall. He plead guilty perhaps because he did not understand since he was considered simple-minded (as his contemporaries called him). He was sentenced to a traitor’s death.
On November 29, Warwick was beheaded on Tower Hill. He was twenty-four years old. He was buried in Bisham Priory beside his grandfather, Warwick the Kingmaker. Years later, Katherine was said to say, that her marriage to Prince Arthur had been made in blood.
After the executions, Henry fell ill and recovered by the middle of December. That same year, the plague so to over the pandemic the King and Queen traveled to Calais. This was the first and last time Elizabeth had traveled abroad. While in English-held territory in France, Elizabeth and Henry met with the Archduke Phillip and his Archduchess Juana of Castile, sister to Katherine of Aragon. Forty days after departing England, Elizabeth and Henry returned to the realm.
Upon the arrival at Greenwich, they received distressing news. Prince Andrew’s health was a concern yet the worse was the death of their infant son Prince Edmund at fifteen months. The baby prince was given a state funeral, provisions which Henry VII had laid down.
During this time, Katherine departed Spain. She arrived in England on October 2, 1501. Prince Arthur and the King traveled to with the future Queen of England.
Preparations for the marriage began. On November 9, Katherine met Prince Henry. Then on the 12th, Katherine entered the city of London to bells ringing, banners fluttering about and crowded streets where music played and wine ran free. The next day, Elizabeth met her future daughter-in-law. “During her audience, she and Elizabeth both spoke in Latin, and they enjoyed ‘pleasant and goodly communication, dancing, and disports. Thus, with honor and mirth, this Saturday was expired and done,’ and it was late when Katherine departed for Lambeth Palace to make ready for her wedding day.”
On November 14, 1501, Arthur and Katherine were married in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Their wedding night would play an importance years later when Henry VIII sought a divorce.
The young royal couple departed for Ludlow Castle on December 21, 1501. That royal marriage wasn’t the only one being arranged. In January 1502, Henry arranged a treaty of marriage with James IV of Scotland. His daughter, Margaret would become Queen of Scots but would not travel across the border until September 1503.
The good cheer of the wedding wouldn’t last. In February, Prince Arthur sickened. And another threat reared up. Henry dealt with the menace but the King’s power meant nothing with his son’s health. Prayers were said, pilgrimage was made by two priests Elizabeth hired, and offers were given to the church.
Arthur’s health improved enough that he was well enough to wash the feet of fifteen men on Maundy Thursday on March 24.
Four days into April, the worse happened. Arthur, Prince of Wales and future King, died. The fifteen-year-old was buried at Worcester and not Westminster Abbey. According to Weir, it has been suggested that Arthur died of something contagious since his body had to be buried as swiftly as possible.
Alison Weir says of forty-five-year-old Henry’s reaction, “‘When the King understood these sorrowful, heavy tidings, he sent for the Queen, saying that he and his wife would take their powerful sorrow together.’ Thus it was the Elizabeth heard the shattering news every parent dreads to hear, that her child was dead in the flower of his youth.”
Elizabeth reacted as any mother would. She collapsed. Henry rushed to her and comforted her. Her son’s death impacted her health. There are reports of the Queen’s health taking a turn for the worse.
Katherine, widow of Arthur afterward stayed with the King and Queen then went on to reside at Croydon Palace. The young Prince Henry Tudor was now being groomed as the heir to the English and Irish throne. But that’s another story.
Dressed in her mourning attire that Henry set down in his ordinances, the royal couple decided they were still capable of bearing more children. Elizabeth and Henry had always lived together. She accompanied him on his journeys yet on 1502 Elizabeth departed from Windsor and Henry’s side. By the end of September, Henry reunited with his wife.
Royal duties resumed but Elizabeth was with child again. She wasn’t due until February and preparations being made for her confinement.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, celebrated the Christmas season. Meanwhile, Henry was consumed with the construction of the new Lady Chapel. In January 1503, Elizabeth came by river to Westminster to reunite with the King. They, then, traveled onto the Tower.
On February 2, 1503, Elizabeth was still at the Tower (her father’s favorite residence) when the baby arrived ten days early. After the difficult birth, the daughter was christened Katherine on the Saturday after her birth at the parish church of the Tower.
That same time, Elizabeth fell ill. She worsened swiftly. The king sent a man for the physician and paid a boatman to wait for the doctor along with horses and guides to get him to the queen’s side through the dark night.
Elizabeth of York–the Bloom of the House of York–died in the early morning of Saturday, February 11. Her thirty-seventh birthday. Henry was at her side along with priests for last rites and her attendants and servants.
Henry was heartbroken. He traveled to Richmond to mourn his wife alone. For six weeks he was so low with grief that he sickened and was said near death. Tradition decreed that he would not attend her funeral. He ordered a new velvet cloth of estate of blue, the color of royal mourning. Books were bound in this fabric and mourning attire in black and blue. He slowly came out of mourning ten months later. He also abandoned the Tower, which led to the decline as a royal residence. Future royals only stay there for their coronations as tradition had set.
In London, six-hundred and six masses were offered by the king and fifty-six pounds of wax candles burned at Walsingham for the monks while they prayed for her.
Henry now the lone king became even more of a miser than he was before along with being suspicious and harsh since Elizabeth’s influence was now absent. He never married again.
Henry VII died on April 21, 1509 at Richmond Palace of tuberculosis.
Yet the blood of Elizabeth flowed through Stuart monarchs, Hanoverians monarch and the House of Windsor and her namesake, Queen Elizabeth II, her sixteenth generation descendant.
With the heir born, time had come for Elizabeth to be crowned Queen of England, Wales, and Ireland. However, the royal couple’s joy diminished during the Christmas season when rumors rang about Elizabeth’s cousin, the Earl of Warwick, the York heir to the English throne who was locked away in the Tower of London. The English whispered and roared that the young earl had escaped while others professed that he met the same fate as the young York Princes.
In January 1487, the first pretender to the throne appeared on the scene. Lambert Simnel was in Ireland, claiming to be the escaped Earl of Warwick. The next month, Henry displayed the twelve-year-old Earl in a procession through London to St. Paul’s Cathedral then brought Warwick to the Queen at Sheen Palace. Warwick was a threat to Henry but he had the mental capacity of a one-year-old yet Henry couldn’t kill the child.
With that rumor squashed, other threats continued to haunt the royal couple. The Earl of Lincoln, nephew to Richard III and the Queen’s cousin, fled to Flanders where his aunt, Margaret of York, Duchess if Burgundy resided. She hated Henry since he killed her brother Richard at Bosworth and did all within her power to undermine Henry. Margaret acknowledged Simnel and the Yorkist sailed to Ireland where the Anglo-Irish lords crowned Simnel. Lincoln was the force behind this plot and was the leader of the Yorkists faction.
All came to a head when on May 5, 1487 when word of the invasion reached Henry. The king set up his headquarters at Kenilworth, “a strongly built, centrally located fortress.” He sent word to Elizabeth and along with Arthur they joined him on May 29. In June, the Earl of Lincoln landed in Lancashire. Henry marched to Conventry to protect England and his reign.
June 16th arrived and the two sides clashed. This was the Battle of Stoke. Henry was victorious. Lincoln was killed and Lambert Simnel was taken prisoner and put in Henry’s household from working in the kitchens, he advanced to become trainer of the King’s hawks and died in 1525.
“The Battle of Stoke, which Andrè called ‘the second triumph of Henry VII,’ finally brought the Wars of the Roses to an end…” as Alison Weir states in her biography entitled Elizabeth of York.
The Wars of the Roses came to an end but Elizabeth still hadn’t been crowned. She was the first uncrowned queen to birth an heir since William the Conqueror in 1066. That fact was one of the complaint of the rebels as well as the English people.
In September 1487 summonses were sent out to the nobility to the attend Elizabeth’s coronation in November. On the twenty-third day of the month, Elizabeth departed from Greenwich with her mother-in-law and attended by lords and ladies and rode the royal barge to the Tower of London. The next day, England’s princess made her state entry into London.
On the 25th, which happened to be St. Katherine’s Day, Elizabeth journeyed to her coronation, decked out in gold, jewels, and ermine. Though, no tradition existed that prohibited kings from attending their wives’ coronation, Henry did not attend instead allowing the Elizabeth to enjoy the ceremony. Henry did watch the ceremony that dated to 1399, hidden behind a screen.
On the 25th, which happened to be St. Katherine’s Day, Elizabeth journeyed to her coronation, decked out in gold, jewels, and ermine. Though, no tradition existed that prohibited kings from attending their wives’ coronation, Henry did not attend instead allowing the Elizabeth to enjoy the ceremony. Henry did watch the ceremony that dated to 1399, hidden behind a screen.
With the crown on the queen’s head, it was time to celebrate. The banquet was in Westminster Hall. “Elizabeth, wearing her crown, sat alone at the high table at the top of a flight of steps.” Once again, the king did not attend. Much like most occasions, there was sumptuous food, dancing and verses composed to honor Elizabeth. The next day, Elizabeth traveled to Greenwich and received her dower. With her own household and administrators, Elizabeth took up her role as Queen of England, Wales, and Ireland.
For Elizabeth, family was her center. According to Weir’s Elizabeth of York, “She gave ‘unbounded love’ and support to her children, her sisters, and other relations, and always interested herself in their affairs. She kept her sisters with her at court before they wed, and sometimes after, and they were usually included in the royal celebrations of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun.”
That March, Henry reached an agreement that raised the Tudor dynasty to the top echelons of the continent’s monarchies—the agreement of marriage between Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was bringing an estimated 20 million pounds (today’s currency) to the isle nation.
That same month, Elizabeth was pregnant with her second child. This was three years after the birth of Arthur. Henry was overjoyed and bestowed lavish gifts upon Elizabeth. On November 29, 1489, Elizabeth gave birth to her first daughter—Margaret Tudor. The next day—the feast day of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland, was baptized. Margaret Tudor would go on to marry James IV of Scotland and birth James V, father of Mary, Queen of Scots.
That Christmas was a solemn affair as a measles epidemic spread through Elizabeth’s court and had taken the lives of some ladies. And Elizabeth hadn’t been churched and the hard recovery Elizabeth experience with Arthur caused the queen to flee to Greenwich.
That Christmas was a solemn affair as a measles epidemic spread through Elizabeth’s court and had taken the lives of some ladies. And Elizabeth hadn’t been churched and the hard recovery Elizabeth experience with Arthur caused the queen to flee to Greenwich.
The new year rang in with running of the realm and on 27 February 1490, Arthur was conveyed to Westminster where he was endowed with the titles of Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. The boy prince had he had his own celebrations.
The two Tudor children were joined by a third child on June 28, 1491. The child was named Henry. His household was established at Eltham Palace in Kent. “Although, Prince Arthur was brought up away from the court, Elizabeth’s younger children were largely reared in close proximity to their parents, at Eltham, or at Sheen (where she herself had spent part of her early childhood), Greenwich, or the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace at Croydon, Surrey—all well away from the unhealthy air of London.”
Even though, the Tudor family were happy, they were still dogged by the rumors that one of the princes survived. And in the autumn of 1491, those rumors centered around a “handsome stranger” who claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the younger son, who would have been sixteen in August of 1491 and this boy was around that age. Margaret of Burgundy recognized him as her nephew. This boy was Perkin Warbeck.
First, the nation had to mourning. On June 8, 1492, Elizabeth Wydeville (mother to Elizabeth of York and Queen of England) died. Elizabeth couldn’t be with her mother at the time since she was once again pregnant and near to birth.
Less than a month later, July 2 to be exact, Elizabeth birth her second daughter—Elizabeth—named for her mother and grandmother.
By this time, Henry had tried to rid himself of this pretender who he called the “feigned lad” and made a protest to the rulers of Flanders but the diplomatic route failed and so did relations between England and Flanders.
To dismiss the claims of the new pretender, Henry created his three-year-old Henry the Duke of York. Edward VI bestowed the title onto his second son, Richard, so until the eighteenth century the second sons would bear the title.
Time passed and in October 1495, Elizabeth was pregnant again. The joyous occasion was marred by the death of her three-year daughter Elizabeth.
Then the next month Perkin Warbeck was in Scotland where he was received at Stirling Castle. James IV liked him, clothing the boy in finery, granting him a pension and took him on a progress through Scotland. The Scottish king held a tournament for him and even married him to a distant relation—Katherine, daughter of George Gordon, Earl of Huntly.
The time passed and Elizabeth birthed her third daughter—Mary Tudor on March 18, 1496 at Sheen Palace. Mary would marry the King of France who was an old man who then died and she went on to marry Duke of Suffolk, Charles Brandon.
Less than six months later, James IV invaded England with Warbeck who promised to return Berwick, a dispute area in the north of England that had once belong to Scotland. But the Scots looted so James had to retreat back to Scotland when Henry’s army appeared.
Henry was dealing with rebels and trying to raise money to fight against Warbeck and the Scots and soon, 1497 arrived and was half way through when a new treaty was agreed with Spain. It stated for Katherine to come to England when she was fourteen, which she would reach in 1499. And a month later, Arthur and Katherine were formally betrothed.
The joy of the agreement didn’t last long since Warbeck landed in Cornwall on September 7, 1497. About a fortnight later, Warbeck fled south to Southampton and took sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey. Henry surrounded the abbey and promised “the pretender a pardon if he surrendered to the King and threw himself on his ‘grace and pity.’ Warbeck took up the offer.
Warbeck was paraded through London then imprisoned in the Tower. That same year (1497), Henry brought the young pretender to court where he was followed by two guards and confined to the palace. It was reported that Henry treated them well but did not allow Katherine and Warbeck to sleep together.
A year later on June 9, 1498 Perkin escaped from the Palace of Westminster. Henry didn’t execute him but he did put him in stocks and made him read aloud his confession then returned to the Tower.
Henry and Elizabeth now focused on the wedding of Arthur and Katherine. And Henry was also negotiated a marriage between Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland so to bring peace to the nations and his put his bloodline on the Scottish throne. Elizabeth, though, demanded that her daughter not marry before September 1503 when Margaret would be fourteen.
But the royal couple had another reason to celebrate. Elizabeth bore a third son and her sixth child on February 21, 1499 at Greenwich. The young prince was named Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond. It was a difficult pregnancy for the queen.
For Henry and Elizabeth much was changing. Those changes would bring happiness and grief.
Henry and Elizabeth’s vows have been spoken and now comes time for the celebration, which was a lavish nuptial feast of “roasted peacocks, swans, larks and quails, followed by sugared almonds and fruit tarts.”
After the celebrations, Elizabeth spent her wedding night in the King’s Bedchamber, which was the Painted Chamber of the Palace of Westminster. The newlyweds went to bed to do their duty to England and untied the two Houses of York and Lancaster so peace would come to the realm. It was this time that the white and red roses of York and Lancaster were combined to the Tudor Rose. Henry VII actively promoted the design. The English people hoped that peace would come to their shores. Meanwhile, the young couple was falling in love.
The first morning as husband and wife, Henry presented Elizabeth with Giovanni de Gigli’s poem, which was her morning gift. Next, there was the traditional ceremony of her uprising as a new wife. Now, Elizabeth was expected to bind up her hair and cover it with a hood. She would only be permitted to wear her hair loose on ceremonial occasions when she donned a crow.
The new King of England was “a man of vast abilities and hidden depths. He knew four languages, was well read, good at economics, and well versed in the arts of the period.” Good characteristics because the king would need this skills to lead. Henry planned to secure his throne, increase the coffers of the realm and the standing of the isle nation in Europe. To accomplish that, he used his cleverness, shrewd mind, hard-working personality and his family to make it happen.
But Henry wasn’t just King. He lavished his wife with gifts and his servants. He enjoyed court ceremony, being witty and cheerful. Elizabeth and Henry enjoyed a full social life at court. They spent much time together, sharing a common piety and sense of humor. Elizabeth and Henry traveled together even. There has never been talk about an affair or a scandal. The only bastard child of Henry VII is Roland de Velville conceived during his time in Brittany before his marriage.
Elizabeth in turn was a helpmate to her husband. She promoted his interests. And never openly complained or interfered in his ruling. Elizabeth was unlike her mother, never aligning with factions at court and did not promote her relatives. However, as they had deep affection and love for each other, she must have voiced her opinion to her husband but her main focus was the household, estates and court.
Not an easy task but Elizabeth was described by her contemporaries as a charming woman who was generous who had many charities she supported that included orphans, “took children under her wing and raised them and liberated debtors from London prisons.” All this, she had her mother-in-law around. Margaret Beaufort has a strong influence at court. Margaret even had her own state of cloth that she sat beneath. Yet, Elizabeth didn’t seem to battle against her for whatever reason and seemed to have a fine relationship with her mother-in-law who lived only for her son.
So, their marriage pressed on. With Elizabeth’s court as magnificent as her father’s (Edward IV) who modeled his on the Burgundy court. Their court would be the scene for lavish feasts, tournaments, and pageants. All the necessary events for a grand court.
This young couple wished for their own private world. It was Henry VII who created “the Privy Chamber, the department of state comprising the influential and often powerful gentlemen who waited personally upon the sovereign and thus able to influence him and bestow patronage. Elizabeth had her own apartments as well.
By Lent of 1486, Elizabeth was expecting her first child. However, there had been no coronation. Nevertheless, many expressed joy for the coming child. In March, Pope Innocent VIII issued a bull confirmed the dispensation issued by Bishop of Imola for their marriage. Then a couple weeks later, Pope also granted a dispensation that recognized Henry VII as King and threatened any who rose against him with excommunication. Henry papered England with the dispensation. The pope also confirmed Henry’s title so if Elizabeth died without issue then Henry’s children could inherit the English throne.
Not all was happy in England even as Rome sent good news. That summer Henry had to ride to the north to stop sedition. Meanwhile, Elizabeth grew increased. By the end of August, Henry and Elizabeth moved into Winchester, “the ancient capital of England, where Henry wanted his heir to be born, for he believed it to be the site of Camelot, King Arthur’s fabled seat, and that being born there would be portentous for the prince who would bring a new golden age to England.
It was during this time that Henry concocted the series of ordinances governing the running of the royal household and set the ceremonials to be observed there “Including ordinances as to what preparation is to be made against deliverances of the Queen and the christening of the children. The Royal Book, as it was known. According to Alison Weir’s book, Elizabeth of York, “These determined the color and quality of the furnishing for her chamber and bed, which was to be made up with pillows of down and a scarlet counterpane bordered with ermine, velvet, or cloth of gold.”
In the early hours of September 20, 1486, also known as St. Eustace’s Day, Arthur Tudor was born. Through born in his eighth month, Arthur was born, as Alison Weir quotes, “vital and vigorous, contrary to the rules of physicians.” It seems that the young couple enjoyed the wedding night before partaking the ceremony.
Elizabeth meanwhile was weak from the birth and she is “recorded as suffering an ague–an acute fever–during her lying-in period. But the queen recovered enough to be churched and now returned to her daily life though, she didn’t recover her full bloom.
Henry Tudor won the English crown at Bosworth and rode to London. A new dynasty reigned in England. For Tudor to hold the crown, a marriage was necessary. Elizabeth of York could transfer her claim to the crown to the man she married. Because there was another who could claim the throne, Elizabeth’s young cousin, the Earl of Warwick. The Earl was the son of Elizabeth’s uncle, the Duke of Clarence and his wife who were both dead, and the nobles could support this boy instead of Henry.
So Henry had to act. He had Elizabeth with the young Earl to be brought south to London. Henry entered the city on September 3, 1485 and proclaimed to the Privy Council “his intention of marrying Elizabeth of York.”
Now, Parliament had to act. They repealed the act that made Elizabeth and her siblings illegitimate and restored her royal status. She was also declared Duchess of York. With that seen to now a dispensation for marriage had to be obtained since Elizabeth and Henry had a “fourth degree of kinship.”
In the meantime, Henry claimed the throne by “right of conquest.” He “declared it was the true judgment of God, expressed in his victory at Bosworth. That gave him the crown by divine right.” No matter what he said, his support from the nobles would only come with the marriage and bring peace between the two house of York and Lancaster.
So, who was this man who brought the two houses together. Alison Weir writes in Elizabeth of York that Spanish ambassador described Henry Tudor as “there is nothing purely English in the English king’s face.”
Yet, noted in the same book, Henry was describe with more detail. “His body was slender but well-built and strong; his height above average. His appearance was remarkably attractive; his eyes were small and blue.” This king stood over six feet tall.
During the wait for the dispensation, Henry courted his royal betrothed with private meetings between the couple. But the courting didn’t stop Henry’s plans for his coronation.
On October 30, 1485, the coronation ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey. This displeased some nobles who believed that Henry should have only been king through his marriage to Elizabeth. The crown could be trasmit through the female line but would not wield sovereign power. This had happened since the royal houses of Plantagenet, York and now Tudor all possessed a claim through the female line.
No matter, this political marriage became a love match. Nobles spoke of the love between the couple and in December of 1485, the marriage date was set for January 18, 1486. It was reported that Henry held a “singular love” for Elizabeth.
From December 10 onward, Elizabeth was treated as the Queen of England as the royal preparations began.
With the wedding only four days away, Henry and Elizabeth presented a petition to the legate in chapel of Westiminster Abbey since the papal dispensation hadn’t reached the shores of England and a marriage was being demanded by the people. With their ordinary dispensation was granted to the couple.
The wedding day arrived and the royal couple were married at Westminster. Henry was 29 and Elizabeth 19.
The bride wore “a gown of silk damask and crimson satin.” It had a “kirtle of white cloth of gold damask and a mantle of the same suit, furred with ermine.” Her blonde hair hung loose and was “threaded with jewels, not the color of her clothes, that proclaimed her virginity.”
The groom was “attired in cloth of gold. Henry gave the queen a wedding ring of gold, that he purchased in December.
Return for the third part of Elizabeth and Henry’s love story and learn more about the marriage that was the only successful union of the Tudor dynasty .
The Cousins’ War started in 1399. We know it as The War of the Roses. The House of Lancaster battle the House of York—the red rose and the white rose. By the fifteenth century, Edward Plantagenet claimed the throne from Henry VI. Edward became King Edward IV.
Edward IV married Elizabeth Wydeville, Lady Grey, an impoverished Lancastarian widow. The king and queen’s first child was born on 11 February 1466 at Westminster. That child was Elizabeth Plantagenet, Princess of England, or Elizabeth of York. She was the first born princess in more than a century.
She grew up in “the most splendid court that could be found in all Christendom.”
Meanwhile, Margaret Beaufort was born in 1443 to John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, a descendent from King Edward III through the illegitimate blood line. Though the four Beaufort children were legitimated by Richard II, there was an added provision to act that stated the Beauforts could not inherit the crown. At twelve, Margaret who was a very desired heiress was married to Edmund Tudor—a man with royal blood as well. His mother was Queen Katherine of Valois, the widowed French wife of Henry V of England (and Agincourt fame), and a lowly Welsh squire Owen Tudor. Though, Edmund Tudor was fourteen years older than his wife. Such marriages were not uncommon among the nobility. Most bridegrooms waited until the young bride had reached an appropriate age. Not Edmund Tudor.
Margaret became pregnant and bore her son, Henry, on January 28, 1457. She had a traumatic birth and never bore any more children. As for Edmund Tudor, he died of plague before the birth of this future king. Now, Margaret was thirteen, a mother and a widow for twelve weeks. And a Lancastrian in a Yorkist time.
While Elizabeth grew up in “the most splendid court that could be found in all Christendom”, Henry, the Earl of Richmond, and his mother, a mother and son on the wrong side, were placed under the guardianship of William Herbert, an equally staunch Yorkist, after their home, Pembroke Castle fell.
In time to come, Margaret married her second husband, Sir Henry Strafford, a Yorkist, in order to have her son’s earldom returned to him especially since Edward IV didn’t like Margaret.
But in these turmoil times peace never last long. The Earl of Warwick—known as the Kingmaker and the man who helped Edward win the crown—along with the king’s brother George, Duke of Clarence, rebelled against Edward and set the feeble Henry VI back on the throne. With the Yorkist fleeing, Jasper Tudor, Henry’s uncle, claimed custody of his nephew while, Elizabeth, her mother, and siblings sought out sanctuary in Westminster Abbey.
But the tender peace shatters when Edward VI returns and reclaims his throne. Jasper and Henry flee England and become fugitives. Henry Tudor is fourteen. His life would be one of penury and danger, meanwhile, Elizabeth was reared a Princess. She received an education of a princess, which was lacking, and by our modern eyes not much of an education. Her granddaughter and namesake would receive a better one.
Elizabeth loved books so she possessed the capability of reading and writing. Yet, the princess struggled to speak French, knew no Latin (that was a male’s subject) and as was schooled to run a household—even a royal household—and entertain. She was raised to be a Queen, wife, and mother.
During this time, it might appear as if this royal couple would never find their way to each other. Elizabeth’s father saw Henry Tudor as a threat to his throne and wanted Henry to be returned to England, offering a grand amount of gold to Francis II, Duke of Brittany, where Henry was living. Yet, Edward didn’t plan to kill Henry but marry him to his daughter, Elizabeth in order to unite the two rival houses.
Henry though, not trusting the king, feigned illness and received sanctuary in a church in St. Malo.
In 1482, the king made one more offer to Henry. He granted the lands of his maternal grandmother, heiress to manors in three English counties, as long as he returned from “exile to be in the grace and favor of the King’s highness.” Henry didn’t sail to England.
With his life as a fugitive, Henry trusted a scant number of people. His mother and his uncle and no more beyond those two. This way of life would increase during his lifetime.
On April 9, 1483, both Henry and Elizabeth’s lives changed. Edward IV died at forty-one with his oldest child aged seventeen and his heir, Edward, a mere boy. Now, Richard III, Elizabeth’s uncle, would claim the throne for himself and take control of Edward (the rightful king— Edward V) and his brother Richard. Elizabeth and her mother and siblings would once again seek sanctuary in Westminster again.
During this time, Richard III through machinations was able to prove (more like scheme) that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville invalid and his nephews and nieces, including Elizabeth, bastards and legally unable to inherit the throne.
This acts upset powerful Englishmen who sailed to Henry Tudor’s side. Henry’s opportunity was drawing nearer thanks to Richard’s action and his mother. By this time, she had married Thomas Stanley. Stanley was a rich and powerful man and Richard couldn’t alienate him. So, Margaret waited and plotted with Elizabeth Wydeville to marry their children. Henry Tudor would be king and Elizabeth would be queen. Then the Princes in the Tower disappeared and all accused Richard III of killing the young brothers. Whether Richard killed them or not, I cannot say. That truth is lost to history.
But the accusatory talk ate away at more of Richard’s support. The proposed marriage had much support and brought more people to Henry’s side though his claim was dubious even according to the act impossible. Then Richard’s trust man, the Duke of Buckingham, switched sides. The duke informed Henry that on “St. Luke’s Day, October 18, and that he himself would raise the men of Wales. A proclamation was then made to the confederacies that Buckingham ‘had repented of his former conduct and would be the chief mover’ in the planned risings.”
Henry Tudor joined in with Buckingham’s rebellion. But Richard had already learned of the conspiracy. So when Henry sailed on October 31, the rebellion had failed yet Henry was unaware. Bad weather had blown Henry off course and he was just off Plymouth’s coast when he learned of Buckingham’s death and the army roused by the dead duke had fled. Henry sailed back to Brittany—crownless.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth stepped out of sanctuary and went to her uncle Richard and joined the Queen Anne’s household. In January, Parliament labeled Henry Tudor a traitor and if he returned to England, he would executed.
Much happened around Elizabeth and Henry. Politics and intrigue that affected this young couple. Both just had to wait for their moment. Richard had control of Elizabeth and hunted for Henry. There is talk about Richard wanting to marry his niece. But two problems stood in his way. She was a bastard as he had declared and was his reason for claiming the English throne. The second was that she was his niece which was a close blood relation and would need a dispensation for a marriage. Richard denied that he wished to marry Elizabeth. And with the reputation that the Tudor concocted of him, it is easy to believe that’s denial was a lie.
But this was the year were much changed. Charles VIII of France recognized Henry Tudor as King of England “and gave him money, ships and French troops for an invasion, with the aim—as Henry put it—of ‘the just depriving of that homicide and unnatural tyrant.’”
This recognition brought more Englishmen to Henry’s side and Henry had to act soon.
On August 1, Henry Tudor sail from Harfleur in Normandy. Six days later, he landed at Milford Haven near Pembroke. The Welshman set his foot on Welsh soil and fell to his knees and said, “’Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an unworthy nation’”—and kissed the ground. Then, calling on the aid of God and St. George, he urged his men onward, marching under a white and green banner proudly displaying the red dragon traditionally attributed to Cadwaladr. He came, as he was at pains to make clear, to reconcile the warring factions.”
Henry and his army marched eastward and on August 15, he crossed into England. Richard rode to confront him. On August 22, 1485, the two armies met. The Battle of Bosworth raged and at the end of the bloody meeting, the Tudor dynasty was born.
In the next installment the young couple meet.
Can you please help me? If you enjoyed this post, please share on your social media. I’m trying to grow this feature and I’m so horrible at it. Thank you.
The Scottish lords should have been pleased. They never liked him and for them, Lord Darnley’s death benefitted them greatly.
His death was the beginning of the end of their Catholic queen. According to Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley, “Parliament held in December 1567, when Mary had reached twenty-five and, had she not by then been deposed, would have legally been able to revoke grants made during her minority.”
What did that mean to the Scottish Lords?
Mary granted the Earldoms of Moray, Morton and Angus during her minority to men of Protestant faith, including the Earldom of Moray to her bastard brother, Lord James Stewart, and she could revoke them.
What does this have to do with historical couples? Now once again, Mary’s hand and very reign was in danger in a way that had not been since the Rough Wooing of her childhood.
Now every action, word or look Mary made was judged and used against her. And she made some bad choices. There are two reasons for her actions: First, grief (not the best time to be thinking clearly) and second, she believed Darnley’s death was a plot to kill her. Nevertheless, Mary entered mourning. Black hung in her apartments.
She didn’t remain at Holyrood for long. She took Prince James (who had remained with her since his birth) and went to the safety of Edinburgh Castle to be locked away for the forty days of mourning–the same she had done for her first husband.
Enter husband number three, the Earl of Bothwell. James Hepburn, the fourth Earl of Bothwell was described as “glorious (vainglorious), rash, and hazardous young man.” He stood about five feet six inches, which was described as middle stature and well below Mary and Lord Darnley’s height. Another member at court described him as “an ape” and “of greatly bodily strength and beauty, although vicious and isolate in his habits.” He had a swarthy complexion and a nose that appears to have been broken.
His power base resided in East Lothian and the Borders. He didn’t like the English and given his region along the borders, such a feeling was understandable. He was not just an Earl, he was the Lord High Admiral of Scotland, a heredity position. As much as many Scottish lords and English hated the man, they knew he was not stupid.
During this time, he was married to Jean Gordon, the daughter of the dead fourth Earl of Huntly, and sister to the new fifth Earl of Huntly.
Lord Bothwell took control of the government.
On the 12 February 1566, Darnley’s embalmed body was laid in state and three days later, he was buried. The next day, the council concerned for Mary’s health persuade her to give up her mourning since it affected her health adversely. Since October 1566, Mary had been ill. The queen agreed never knowing that this was another mark that would be used against her later in life. So, she traveled to Seton Castle.
On the 16th of February, the placards began to appeared on the Tollbooth’s door in Edinburgh. The first accused Bothwell of Darnley’s murder. Two nights later, another appeared, this one accusing Mary’s foreign servants.
Mary briefly returned to Edinburgh only to leave again, this time Bothwell was included in her train. During this time, Queen Elizabeth and mother-in-law Catherine de Medici, dowager Queen of France, advised her in letters to seize the murders. Both understood the danger especially Elizabeth as she had faced fierce talk about Lord Dudley’s wife’s death and her invovlement.
Mary placed the investigation in the hands of her Councillors (though most didn’t want the murder to be solved) as well as issuing a proclamation offering a worthy reward to anyone who identified the murderers and she summoned Parliament to debate the next steps in inquiry.
Lord Lennox (Darnley’s father and a Scottish Lord) placed her in a difficult position by asking her to arrest members of her council and her servants on evidence that was more hearsay than fact, which was illegal. Yet, she couldn’t refused.
The next day, another placard was nailed to Tollbooth. This one was “where was these letters written in Roman hand, very great, M.R., with a sword in her hand near the same letters; then an L.B. (for Lord Bothwell?) with a mallet near them.” This started linking the queen to the accused murderers of her husband and started shifting the well-favored opinion of their queen. More placards appeared and continued but the most infamous one was that truly damned her reputation was the mermaid one.
According to Weir, “It depicted a bare-breasted and crowned mermaid–a mermaid then being a symbol for a siren or prostitute–holding a whip above a hare surrounded by swords; the mermaid was undoubtedly meant to be the Queen, while the hare was Bothwell’s heraldic device. The mermaid was protecting the hare with a whip, but none dared approach it anyway because of the threatening swords.”
Still Mary didn’t turn from Bothwell not even banishing him from her side at the very least. She talked of living in France. She was becoming more stressed. It appears that her fears of her coming death and mixed with her grief, she was spiraling and her mental health was very disturbed. She decided that the Prince would be safer at Stirling.
Factions were splitting. Meanwhile, the Countess of Bothwell recovered from her illness. In a letter, Lady Bothwell wrote that she had been poisoned and many believed it to be so. She sought out a divorce and with her brother’s support, she issued the first procuratory– a document authorizing legal action. She filed on the grounds of adultery.
Not all was against Mary, accusations flowed in Scotland, France, and even England against the Earl of Moray. Still, Mary’s health was failing and soon came Bothwell’s trial.
On April 12, 1567, Bothwell’s trial began. In the dawn hours of that day, Queen Elizabeth’s messenger arrived with a letter for Mary, telling her to postpone Bothwell’s trial. The messenger was told that Mary was not to be disturbed at that early an hour. But when he returned Bothwell’s men promised to give it to her. It seems she never received it.
At noon, the trial began and seven hours later, Bothwell was free. Two days later, Parliament met and by April 19, it closed. That night Bothwell hosted a supper for the lords at a tavern most historians agree was named Ainslie’s Tavern in Edinburgh.
Once food had been consumed along with wine, Bothwell whipped out a bond and asked for them to sign it. The bond was for their agreement that the Earl of Bothwell become husband number three.
Present at this supper were both Catholic and Protestant lords. The original no longer survives but there were suppose to be 28 or 29 signatures but some lords were not known to have signed but their names are rumored to be included.
After this night, Mary’s ruin had began and as history shows would not be halted.
Now in the Royal Castle, Mary gathered her loyal supporters. Days laters, those men invovled in Rizzio’s death fled. By now, Mary’s army numbered 8000 men, she rode at the head of army into Edinburgh. She regained control of her realm. She pardoned some conspirators who were not directly involved with Rizzio’s murder. Her plan was simple, drive a wedge between these group of men.
Darnley signed a declaration that he was not a part of the murder. This fit Mary’s needs because she couldn’t have doubts about her unborn child’s legitimacy. In April of 1566, the Earl of Moray (Lord James Stewart, bastard half-brother to Mary and Protestant) arrived at Edinburgh Castle, where Mary was residing.
She gave Moray permission to stay at the imposing castle to keep a close watch on him. She knew that Moray held the support of Protestant lords as well as England and had to play it this way to keep support for her. This time Mary wouldn’t trust her half-brother but she knew that she needed him. The Protestants of Scotland looked to him as their leader. And Scottish lords had no problem rebelling against or killing their monarch. They had done so before.
Before the Scottish court, Mary gave the appearance of marital happiness but Darnley had been shut out from her graces and the seat of power. On 19 June 1566, Mary gave birth to James, the Duke of Rothesay (future James VI of Scotland and James I of England). Scotland had an heir to the throne and they rejoiced. Mary soared to great heights.
Darnley, though, was leading “a very disorderly life. Every night, he left the castle and went out vagabonding and drinking heavily with his young male friends in the streets of Edinburgh. He would return at all hours of the night, so that the castle gates had to be unlocked for him, which left Mary feeling ‘there was no safety, either for herself or her son.'”
Mary decided to keep James with her. She was fearful her enemies make steal him away and rule in his name. (Spoiler: That would happen) It didn’t help Mary that Darnley was still plotting to become king. The man was far from Mary’s good graces. He knew nothing of the Queen’s actions, daily life and certainly knew nothing of her affection. Mary seeking someone she could trust, she was turning more and more to the Earl of Bothwell.
Sadly for Mary, the men in her life sucked. And Darnley’s intrigue wasn’t the only on occurring. Moray and Bothwell, both had their own separate plans that would lead to death and the loss of the Scottish crown.
In October 1566, Mary gathered her Border lords for a justice eyre (a circuit court to hear legal cases). Darnley requested to accompany her and he was refused. Not pleased, Darnley starts to throw what I call hissy fits. One fit was his threat to sail away from Scotland. Mary could not allow such a thing. That posed a threat to her, her son and realm.
In the lowlands, during the eyre, Lord Bothwell had been attacked and injured. On 15 October, Mary learned on this and rode from Jedburgh to Hermitage Castle (The Earl of Bothwell’s, James Hepburn, holding) then rode back to Jedburgh. A sixty mile round trip that would be come to bite her in the ass.
The rest of 1566, Mary was ill and rested at Craigmillar Castle. During her recovery, Darnley appears again only to disappear to Mary’s relief. Her husband was a necessary nuisance. Her lords were trying to find a way to divorce her from her wastrel of a husband. He was a danger to her yet she couldn’t risk the standing of her son–a divorce would have James declared illegitmate. Yet, Mary knew that her husband wanted her dead. Her death would lead to a regency and Darnley wanted to be appointed Regent. Scotland had had a regency since 1393 and Mary, Queen of Scots (Scotland would have another under Mary’s son).
But many wanted Darnley dead too.
In 1567, (According to testimony made in 1573) a bond was drawn up to kill Darnley. No record exists and no one saw this written bond. But that didn’t stop the English and Cecil and Walingsham from using this testimony)
At the end of 1566, Darnley became ill with pox, syphillis as the Diurnal of Occurents’ stated. The sixteenth century cure wasn’t an easy one. It was mercury baths. He was at his father’s stronghold near Glasgow. That wasn’t necessary a good thing for Mary.
In the beginning in 1567, Mary had proof of two conspiracies: Lords against Darnely with plans to kill him and Darnley against Mary. With no other choice, Mary rode to Glasgow to confront her husband and bring him to Edinburgh to watch him.
Now the queen had her husband and Bothwell had recovered from his injuries and journeyed to the royal burgh. The plan was to lodge Darnely in Craigmillar. But he feared being locked up and killed so he went to Kirk o’ Field. Later many would say that Mary had set up the house in order to kill him. But that choice was Darnley’s.
The house “lay to the south of Edinburgh, on a hill overlooking the Cowgate; it stood just inside the city wall and three-quarters of a mile from Holyrood Palace, in a semi-rural location, ‘environed with pleasant gardens, and removed from the noise of the people.'”
Mary saw that her husband had all the luxuries the husband of the queen could want or need. As he recovered, the queen “visited her husband daily.” According to Alison Weir’s book, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, she spent two nights at Kirk o’ Field, sleeping in the bedroom below his. They sat up late, sometimes until midnight, talking, playing cards or listening to music, and ‘many nobles’ came with the Queen to divert the convalescent.
Though, Mary might have shown kindess to her husband, she didn’t trust him and continued to learn of all his undermined plans against her.
On 9 February 1567, the last day of Sunday before the beginning of Lent, the queen had a full schedule. She had a wedding of her favorite servants, attended a banquet and around 7, she rode to Kirk o’ Field in the company of Lords Bothwell, Argyll and Huntly. They spent the time playing dice and chatting. The group including the Queen were dressed for the wedding masque that they would be attending later that night.
At midnight, Mary and the lords departed. This night has many stories depending on who you believe and when the story is told. Whatever you believe, Mary returned to Holyrood, attended the masque and took part in the bedding ceremony of the newlyweds then returned to her apartments.
There she held a meeting with the Captain of her Guards and Bothwell. The captain left Bothwell and the queen alone where they talked in private for some time then Bothwell left and Mary went to bed. Another act that would be used against Mary.
Shortly before 2 a.m. Mary was woken by an explosion. She thought it might be cannon fire and sent messengers to learn what was happening. They returned with the news of an explosion of Kirk o’ Field and the belief that Darnley was dead.
Lord Bothwell was the Sheriff of Edinburgh and the duty to investigate fell to him. His servant had to wake him. He sent his men then returned to bed.
Bodies of servants were discovered in the rubble remains of the house but Darnley had not been find. “At last, at 5 a.m., three hours after the explosion, someone thought to look in the south garden and orchard, beyond Flodden Wall, and it was there that they found the bodies of the twenty-year-old king and his valet.” Both men were dressed in short nightshirts and neither body had a mark on their flesh. “Darnley was stretched out on his back, under a pear tree, with one hand draped modestly over his genitals.”
Near the bodies was a chair, rope, and a dagger. The clothing weren’t burned, scorched or black from powder.
Mary learned of the news. She fell into deep grief and stayed in her chamber all day. Weir writes, “There is no doubt that Darnley’s murder left Mary grief-stricken, emotionally shattered and fearful for her own safety. For several months afterwards, she seems not to have functioned normally, and her judgment, never very good at the best of times, utterly failed her.”
This was the beginning in the end for her as Scotland’s queen and her life.
Mary’s second marriage held all of Europe enthralled. Many European countries had a political interest in the man Mary would walk down the aisle with. No country more than England and its queen, Elizabeth I and her most trusted advisor, Sir William Cecil.
Elizabeth even offered her favorite, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. But Mary refused her cousin’s rumored lover. But Mary did marry an Englishman. The Englishman that Elizabeth and Cecil didn’t want her to bind herself to.
Her second husband was Henry Stuart known as Lord Darnley, his courtesy title from his Scottish father, the Earl of Lennox. Now this is a crazy intersecting blood line.
So here we go: Lord Darnley’s mother was Lady Margaret Douglas. Her mother was Margaret Tudor who was Henry VIII sister. Mother Margaret (let’s call her to distinguish her from her daughter) had married the King of Scotland James IV (Mary, Queen of Scots grandfather) who died. Mother Margaret then married the Earl of Angus, Margaret’s father. Lady Margaret Douglas had a claim to the English throne as the granddaughter of Henry VII and as niece of Henry VIII. Both Margarets ended up in England and Henry VIII’s court because of some very crazy Scottish in-fighting (too long and soap opera-esque to explain here).
Now Lord Darnley’s father was the Scottish lord, Matthew Stuart, the 4th Earl of Lennox. His estates were located near Glasgow. He fled Scotland in 1534 then married Margaret Douglas.
Both mother and father had grand plans for their son and that plan was to wear a crown and the Scottish crown would do nicely.
Lord Darnley was the second of eight children (the eldest had died). He was born in December of 1545 or 1546. He was reared a Roman Catholic but would follow any religion if it gained him what he wanted.
Darnley was considered handsome even being described as “most handsome”. He stood between 6’1 to 6’3 so he was taller than Mary’s 5’10 to 5’11. He had a slim, strong and athletic physique that was desirable. He had fair, close-cropped curly hair. Darnley was the perfect courtier. He played instruments like the lute, played games and danced. Yet, this boy had his faults. He was spoiled, immature, and a drunk.
In 1565, Darnley was presented to Mary at Wemyss Castle then they parted ways. But they were soon reunited. Darnley charmed all the Scottish lords whose support he needed to marry Mary. He attended church with Lord James Stewart, a Protestant, as well as Mary. As stated before, anything to get the crown.
During this time, Mary’s talks with Elizabeth to be named as her heir fell apart. This was Darnley’s chance to gain Mary’s hand and Mary’s chance to get back at Elizabeth.
In April of that year, Darnley fell ill and Mary rushed to his side and cared for him herself. After that, Mary lavished him with gifts. She decided to wed Lord Henry Darnley. She believed herself in love but it was most certainly infatuation. As an English subject, he was required to gain Elizabeth’s consent. She did not give it but that didn’t stop the marriage from occurring.
Lord James Stewart, now Earl of Moray, was against this union and refused to sign a document in support of the marriage. This is the start when Lord James turned against his half-sister. Yet, the wedding date was set for July 29, 1565. The day before, Mary proclaimed Darnley King of Scots.
In August, Lord James and some other lords rebelled. It is called The Chaseabout Raid. This rebellion got its name because both sides just rode about, chasing (in Mary’s case) and fleeing (Lord James’ case). It ended because Lord James fled to England.
As Mary was at the height of her reign, her marriage was at its lowest. Darnley was a drunk. He spent his time carousing in taverns and brothels. Worse, the so-called King believed the hype (when he was king in name only). Meanwhile, Mary began spending time with Rizzio, her Italian secretary. Naturally this sparked talk of an affair between the queen and the upstart who came to Mary’s court as a musician and rose to secretary and close confidant of the queen.
People have said that she was foolish to do this but Henry VIII liked to appoint “lower classes” to high positions because they would know where their lives hung. After all Cromwell and Worsley were sons of a blacksmith and a butcher.
Now, this royal couple lived very separate lives. During this time, a conspiracy began with Darnley being played by the lords. It is believed that this started so the rebel lords could return to Scotland. The Earl of Ruthven played a part along with the Earl of Morton, the Earl of Lennox and other Scottish nobles along with Sir William Cecil. It was decided that Rizzio had to die and the now pregnant queen must be detained until her child was born and Darnley given the Crown Matrimonal (which would have made him King of Scotland).
The plan to murder Rizzio happened as Darnley wished. In March 1566, the pregnant Mary hosted a few close courtiers for supper in her closet (a small room). During the night, Darnley made an appearance, playing the charming husband, when Lord Ruthven burst in, demanding Rizzio be handed over to him. Rizzio cowered behind the queen.
The other conspirators rushed in to the small room that could hold a dozen and was now crammed with at least thirty people. The men grabbed at Rizzio. Mary was thrown into Darnley’s arms and he was told to take his wife away. Darnley pulled Mary from the closet into the large space and Rizzio chased after her. Just then the men attacked, stabbing Rizzio. He cried out and clutched at the queen’s skirts as they stabbed him. Darnley bent back his fingers and the assassins dragged Rizzio away.
If you visit Holyrood Palace in Scotland, there is a plaque that states that this is the spot Rizzio died. People claim that they can see the blood stain on the wooden floorboards but those board had been replaced. Rizzio laid died in the queen’s rooms and Darnley’s dagger was demanded. His dagger was “embedded in Rizzio’s side to proclaim the King’s invovlement in the deed.”
The queen proclaimed that these lords planned to kill her and her unborn child. According to Alison Weir in Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley, “that Fawdonside (a member of the conspiracy) had held a loaded pistol to her womb and would have killed her had not his gun refused to give fire.”
She could be right because “one of Ruthven’s followers…told James I (Of England and James VI of Scotland and son of Mary and Henry) that he had saved his life and that of his mother.”
That night, the queen was locked in her rooms with “Dowager Countess of Huntly and a few female servants with eighty Douglas men standing guard outside the palace gates and her bedchamber door, preventing her from communciating with the rest of her household.”
The next day, Darnley went to the queen in terror and begging her forgiveness. He swore that Rizzio’s murder was not his plan.
Mary replied, “Sire, within the last 24 hours you have done me such a wrong that neither the recollection of our early friendship nor all the hope you can give me of the future can ever make me forget it. I think you may never be able to undo what you have done. You say you are sorry, and this gives me some comfort. Yet I cannot but think that you are driven to it rather by necessity than led by any sentiment of true and sincere affection.”
She demanded Darnley reveal all and he did. He told of the plan to imprison her in Stirling Castle until she died. Mary can up with a plan.
Together, the royal couple escaped through the back stairs and through the wine cellar. They had to make their way through the cemetery and there two men waited with four horses. Mary heavily pregnant mounted her horse and rode away to Seton Castle then onto Dunbar Castle. After five hours in the saddle, Mary arrived safely.
You may not know this but I love–and I mean love Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland. I first learned of her when I was a little girl about nine or ten years old. And I must confess that I was heartbroken when I learned of her execution. When I say heartbroken, I mean that I mourned her as I have never mourned a person I did not know personally let alone one who had been dead for hundreds of years.
So when the Mary, Queen of Scots movie was released I was thrilled. I must confess something else that is very shameful. I haven’t seen the film yet. Every time I plan to go something comes up and I’m unable to go to the movies.
Naturally, I had to write Mary Stuart and the men she married. First is Francis, the Dauphin of France and her first husband. Their love story doesn’t start with their marriage. The story begin in Scotland.
Mary Stuart was born on 8 December 1542. About a week old and this tiny infant became Queen of Scotland. Her father, James V died days after the defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss. She was crowned September 9, 1543.
Henry VIII, the king of England, decided that the Scottish Queen should marry his five-year-old son, Prince Edward and that the young queen be reared in the English court.
Well her mother, Mary of Guise, didn’t agree with that. So started the Rough Wooing. At this time, the future Dauphin Francis (The title for the French heir to the throne) was not yet born so to Henry’s thinking who else but the future king of England for the Scottish queen. That would bring England and Scotland under one crowned couple. Henry’s attitude to Scotland was burn it to the ground. During this time, the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh was fought. The queen was moved from castle to castle, home to home in order to keep her safe and far from English hands.
In 1548, her mother made a marriage agreement with France (her home nation) for Mary to wed Francis. In July, she sailed to France.
Francis of Valois was born in 1544 to the King of France and Catherine de Medici. He was sickly from birth. The cause was believed due to all the concoctions Catherine took to get pregnant. It took her ten years before she had Francis.
Mary met her future husband and these two got along from the start. Mary was raised in the nursery alongside Francis and his sister Elisabeth as royal children. There she lived in luxury and in the splendour that is France and its castles. She learned to speak French, her preferred tongue, but this Queen of Scots never lost the Scots tongue.
The time came for the young royal couple to wed. On Sunday, April 24, 1558, Francis and Mary wed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Mary–according to Antonia Fraser’s biography Mary Queen of Scots— “was dressed in a robe as white as lilies, so sumptuous and rich that the pen of the contemporary observer fell from his hands at the thought of describing it.”
White was a favorite shade of Mary since she looked best in that color. But it was also the traditional color of mourning for the queens of France. The wedding celebrations were a three-day affair.
These two seemed to have a very caring, loving relationship with reports of them sitting in the corners of the court, apart from everyone with their heads together and giving kisses to each other. Though, they were different in nature. Mary was fearless and Francis was timid.
Now whether their marriage was consummated is up for debate. Francis had a delicate nature as well as a deformity–undescended testicles, which lead to his stunted height and lacking physique. Mary towered over him as she did with most people.
Yet, Mary says that it did. However, people say that as an untried miss ignorant of such things, she would think that sleeping together in the same bed and some petting and such would mean that the royal couple had sex.
On July 10, 1559, King Henry II of France died and now Francis was king and Mary was Queen of France and Scotland. They were just teenagers with the king fifteen and Mary sixteen. The French court went into mourning.
Francis was crowned in September but Mary wasn’t since she was already Queen of Scotland there was no need to confirm her royal state. The court returned to mourning.
It was during this time her mother died. Then in 1560, Francis complained of a ghastly ear-ache then a few days later he fell down in a faint. He had a large swelling behind his left ear. Mary and her mother-in-law, Catherine de Medici nursed him themselves. Mary left his side once to go to church to pray for Francis’ recovery. Other than that, she was at his side.
Francis died a month before his seventeenth birthday. At eighteen, Mary was a widow and Dowager Queen of France. Her and Francis had never been apart for longer than a few months. He had been at her side since she was a girl of five. Mary must have felt lost. No doubt, that they loved each other. But I believe that their relationship was a love that didn’t burn with a passion but was warm and sometimes brotherly and sisterly but was a partnership for them both.
Mary grief was heavy and she wrote a poem (as she did and there is a book of her verses.)
Wherever I may be In the woods or in the fields Whatever the hour of day Be it dawn or the eventide My heart still feels it yet The eternal regret... As I sink into my sleep The absent one is near Alone upon my couch I feel his beloved touch In work or in repose We are forever close...
Now, Mary could no remain in France so to Scotland, she was to go. Where she will meet the English Lord Henry Darnley.
Fraser, Antonia (2001). Mary Queen of Scots. New York, New York: Bantam Dell.