|Anne de Montmorency|
At the French Court
The arrival of the two English boys at court was not taken much notice of by the courtiers; but Anne de Montmorency, Marshall of France, Constable of France and the Dauphin’s Governor, reported;
‘The King of England has sent here his bastard son, and the son of the lord of Norfolk, who are being nurtured with the King’s children. I assure you that the dauphin is now nearly as tall as I am.’[i]
By 11th December Henry’s fever had broken. The two boys ate with the French princes, both of whom showed mental scars from their 4½ years as hostages in Spain where they had been kept in dark, damp cells[ii].
The Dauphin François was cold and staid and only ever wore sombre clothes. His younger brother Henri Duc d’Orléans, was prone to melancholy and the brothers were both subject to mood swings. Also living with the Dauphin and his brothers were scions of the Lorraine, Cleves and Guise families.
François was impatient with his two more staid and deeply introverted elder sons, instead lavishing his attention on the youngest and most boisterous Charles[iii], Duc d’Angoulême. All three French princes loved playing tennis and hunting which must have struck a chord with Henry and Fitzroy. While the boys were in Paris Fitzroy’s physician David Edwardes, dedicated an anatomical treatise, ‘Introductio ad Anatomicen’, to his patron’s friend;
‘I see you established above what can be said for many young men in this age, and turning your mind so seriously to those things which will render it better.’[iv]
On 23rd April François celebrated the Feast of St George at Fontainebleau. Shortly after the court left to travel on a circuitous route to Provence François was going on progress prior to the marriage of the Duc d’Orléans and Henry and Fitzroy accompanied him. The court travelled to Lyons, reaching there at the end of May. Once there it was found that the town was too overcrowded to house all the court so the king’s sons went with their stepmother Queen Eleanor to Nîmes.
The king then journeyed on to Toulouse and thence to Montpellier with Henry and Fitzroy in his train. His final destination was Marseilleswhere the marriage between Henri of Orléans and Catherine de’ Medici[v] was to take place; in addition François was to meet with the Pope.
Henry VIII sent Norfolk to remind François of his responsibilities under the agreement made in Calais. Henry VIII was now married to Anne Boleyn[vi] and she was pregnant. Norfolk was to remind François that Clement VII was still under the sway of their joint enemy, Charles V, in an attempt to get François to cancel the interview.
Norfolk outrode his colleagues on the journey south. Henry was impatient to see his father and rode out with Fitzroy from Riom, where the court was ensconced. François greeted Norfolk with flattering attention. On 11th July the Pope declared that the English king’s divorce and subsequent remarriage were invalid. Henry VIII was livid with anger. The pope demanded that Henry put aside Anne and replace Catherine in her rightful position as queen.
According to one member of the court;
‘The poor Duke [Norfolk] was so astonished that he nearly fainted.’[vii]
François suggested that his visitor travel on to Marseilles while the court resumed its leisurely progress. Norfolk was ordered home when it became clear to Henry VIII that François would not be dissuaded from his meeting with the pope. Norfolk was to bring the two boys home with him.
Norfolk arrived back in England in time for the birth of Princess Elizabeth. Henry and Fitzroy travelled back in a more leisurely fashion, arriving in Calais on 25th September. Norfolk was pleased with his son’s demeanour after his stay with the French court and determined that he would send his son younger Thomas for a French polish when he was of age.
A Dysfunctional Family
|Catherine of Aragon|
When Henry arrived home it was to find that Bess Holland had replaced his mother as head of the house at Kenninghall. By 1533 things had become so bad in the Norfolk household that Norfolk tried to persuade his brother-in-law Lord Stafford to take his wilful sister back into the bosom of her family. Stafford refused, saying that having his sister in his house;
‘Shuld be my utter undoing. Which is to put your Grace in remembrance of her acustomed wild langiage whiche lyeth not in my power to stope, wherebye so greate daunger might insue to me and all mynne.’[viii]
At court Elizabeth Howard had championed the cause of Queen Catherine who she had served as a lady-in-waiting for sixteen years. She spied on her husband and passed messages to Catherine, at times using the offices of the Spanish ambassador. Elizabeth refused to attend Anne’s coronation or the christening of Princess Elizabeth.
Norfolk offered to divorce his wife but Elizabeth refused, despite a relatively generous offer of jewellery, apparel and household goods. At Easter 1534 Elizabeth was packed off to Redbourn[ix] where Norfolk rented a manor house and provided twenty servants. Elizabeth claimed that;
‘He [Norfolk] hath taken away all my jewels and my apparel. And kept me four years and more like a prisoner.’[x]
Elizabeth was not allowed to leave the manor and nor were her friends allowed to visit. She enlivened her dull hours by venting her spleen in letters to Henry VIII, the council and to Thomas Cromwell, who had replaced Wolsey. Norfolk was aghast that his wife should wash her dirty linen to one of his enemies; her letters were full of allegations that her husband vigorously denied[xi]. Cromwell was more than happy to correspond with the discarded wife in the hopes of getting hold of information he could use against his rival.
Elizabeth’s children took their father’s side in the war between their parents. Elizabeth called her offspring ‘ungracious’ and unkind’ and referred to them as ‘his offspring’, despite this she wrote;
‘Though my children are unkind to me I have always loved them.’[xii]
Elizabeth also complained that Norfolk failed to provide sufficient monies for her upkeep; this allegation may be true as the notoriously stingy duke failed to pay his wife, and his son and heir, anything but a pittance by way of an allowance. Elizabeth received £200 per annum[xiii]. Henry and his father’s mistress did not get on and Bess claimed that;
‘The Earl of Surrey loved her not.’[xiv]
The feeling appears to have been mutual. Mary, however, became firm friends with Bess much to her mother’s distress.
Although Mary was related to Fitzroy within the bounds on consanguinity[xv], dispensation was received in November 1533. The couple were married shortly thereafter, but did not live together[xvi]. From now on Fitzroy and Henry were to grow apart, no longer seeing each other every day and sharing chambers.
Plans to send Fitzroy to Ireland[xvii] where the situation had deteriorated recently were not actioned; as long as Queen Anne failed to produce a male heir the king may have preferred to keep his son at court. The relationship between Norfolk and Cromwell exploded[xviii]; the imperial ambassador reporting that the cause of the disagreement was;
‘His [Norfolk’s] wishing to keep the Duke of Richmond near him, and near his daughter, his wife.’[xix]
Henry VIII may also have been moved by the considerations of cost; fitting out Fitzroy with a quasi-royal household would cost and there was only one person the king liked to spend money on, himself. For a New Year 1534 gift the king gave Henry a silver ewer, conceivably in a fit of enthusiasm because Queen Anne, whose star was waning fast[xx], was pregnant again and the possibility of a legitimate male heir was close enough to touch. Anne lost the baby at eight months.
Henry VIII’s Last Victim – Jessie Childs, Vintage Books 2008
The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune – David M Head, University of Georgia Press 2009
House of Treason – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2009
Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1972
The Earlier Tudors – J D Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992
Bastard Prince – Beverley A Murphy, Sutton Publishing 2001
Rivals in Power – David Starkey, MacMillan London Ltd 1990
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992
[i] Bastard Prince - Murphy
[ii] The elder brother François was to die four years later, possibly from complications arising from his imprisonment
[iii] Later Duc d’Orléans
[iv] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[vii] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[viii] The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune - Head
[x] Rivals in Power - Starkey
[xi] After five years of these letters from Elizabeth Cromwell became tired of the correspondence and brusquely told her to go back to Norfolk and live in peace with her husband
[xii] House of Treason - Hutchinson
[xiii] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £122,400.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £1,113,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £3,803,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £51,400,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xiv] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[xvi] The marriage was never consummated
[xviii] Cromwell was to remain in the ascendant until after the death of Henry VIII’s third queen
[xix] Bastard Prince - Murphy