18.3.13

Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor (18 March 1496 – 25 June 1533) was the younger of the two surviving daughters of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, and the younger sister of King Henry VIII of England. She was also queen consort of France through her marriage to Louis XII. The latter was more than 30 years her senior. Following his death, which occurred less than two months after her coronation as his third wife, she married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. The marriage, which was performed secretly in France, took place without her brother Henry's consent. This necessitated the intervention of Thomas Wolsey and the couple were eventually pardoned by King Henry, although they were forced to pay a large fine.

Mary's second marriage produced four children; and through her eldest daughter Frances, Mary was the maternal grandmother of Lady Jane Grey, who was the de facto monarch of England for a little over a week in July 1553.

First marriage: Queen of France

Mary was the fifth child of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, and the youngest to survive infancy. She was born at Richmond Palace. She and her brother, Henry, were close as children—he named his daughter, the future Queen Mary I, after her.

Known in her youth as one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, Mary was betrothed in December 1507 to Charles of Castile, later Holy Roman Emperor. 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 on 9 October 1514, at the age of 18, Mary married its 52-year-old King Louis XII at Abbeville. One of the Maids of Honour who attended her 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, Louis had no living sons, and sought to produce an heir; but he died on 1 January 1515, less than three months after marrying Mary, reputedly worn out by his exertions in the bedchamber. Their union produced no children. Following Louis' death, the new King Francis I made attempts to arrange a second marriage for the beautiful widow.

Second marriage: Duchess of Suffolk

Mary had been unhappy with her marriage of state to Louis, as at this time she was almost certainly already in love with 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 Thomas 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.

Mary was Brandon's third wife, and he had two daughters, Anne Brandon and Mary by his second marriage to Anne Browne. She had died in 1511. Mary would raise the girls alongside her own children.

Even after her second marriage, Mary was normally referred to at the English Court as "the French Queen", and was not known as "the Duchess of Suffolk" in her lifetime. Mary spent most of her time at the Duke's country seat of Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk. Relations between Henry VIII and Mary were strained in the late 1520s when she opposed the King's attempt to obtain an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, whom Mary had known for many years. She had developed a strong dislike for the future Queen, Anne Boleyn, whom she had first encountered in France.

Mary died at Westhorpe, Suffolk, on 25 June 1533, and was first buried at the abbey at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Her body was moved to nearby St Mary's Church, Bury St Edmunds, when the abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Her husband soon married their son's betrothed, who was also his ward, the fourteen-year-old Catherine Willoughby, by whom he later had two sons.
Today is her Birthday 18 march 1496.

Jhesu+Marie,
Brantigny

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