Saturday, October 9, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 9, 1514, Mary Tudor--sister of King Henry VIII--married King Louis XII of France.

Known in her youth as one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, Mary was betrothed in December 1507 to Charles of Castile, nephew of Katherine of Aragon -- twice Mary's sister-in-law. However, changes in the political alliances of the European powers meant this wedding did not take place. Instead, Cardinal Wolsey negotiated a peace treaty with France, and at the age of 18, Mary married its 52-year-old king at Abbeville. One of her Maids of Honour who attended her during life in France was Anne Boleyn.

Mary was described by the Venetian ambassador as "a paradise—tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor". She wore her glorious silken red-gold hair flowing loose to her waist. Despite two previous marriages, the king had no living sons and sought to produce an heir; but Louis died less than three months after he married Mary, rumored to be worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber. Their union produced no children.

Following Louis's death, the new King Francis I made attempts to arrange a second marriage for the beautiful widow. However, Mary had been unhappy with her marriage of state to Louis, and wanted to marry for love. She happened to be in love with her brother's best friend, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk.

Henry knew of his sister's feelings, but wanted any future marriage to be to his
advantage. When he sent Brandon to bring Mary back to England in late January 1515, he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her. However, the couple married in secret in France on 3 March 1515. Technically this was treason, as Brandon had married a Royal Princess without Henry's consent. The King was outraged, and the Privy Council urged that Brandon should be imprisoned or executed. Because of the intervention of Cardinal Wolsey, and Henry's affection for both his sister and Brandon, the couple were let off with a heavy fine. They were officially married on 13 May 1515 at Greenwich Palace.

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