The Marriages Of Alice Chaucer (Guest Post)

Guest post by Michéle Schindler

Alice Chaucer was a formidable lady. Living to nearly 71 years of age, she was a royal confidante and friend, mother-in-law to a king`s sister, a politican and a reviled widow in her time. Though born a commoner, she moved in royal circles, her approval sought after and her opinion considered even by her king and queen. 

Though this rise was in large parts due to Alice herself, and her reportedly witty and charming personality, it was made possible through her connections, partly inherited from her father and partly gained through marriage. 

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Excerpt from his new book, Brandon – Tudor Knight (Guest Post by Tony Riches)


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

From the author of the international bestselling Tudor Trilogy comes a true story of adventure, courtly love and chivalric loyalty. 

Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the King’s consent.

Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry’s wars in France. Mary’s public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king’s new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.

Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?

Excerpt from Chapter One, April 1505:

Cold rain dripped from the brim of Brandon’s hat as he waited in the shadows at Anne’s back door. He cursed and tried his secret knock again. Candlelight glimmered through the gap between the closed wooden shutters, so he knew she was at home. He was beginning to wonder if she would ever answer when the door opened.

Anne Browne leaned out and glanced down the narrow street, then ushered him inside before anyone could see. She looked beautiful, in a cornflower-blue silk gown, and wore a fine silver necklace with a pearl pendant, his present to her last New Year’s Day. Her dark hair, normally plaited under a fashionable French hood, hung loose and lustrous, reaching over her shoulders.

Anne’s father, Sir Anthony Browne, had been the king’s standard-bearer and an important man at court. He’d found her a position in the Palace of Westminster, which was how she shared her lodging with two ladies of the king’s household. As they were away at Richmond Palace, Anne had the lodging to herself – a rare chance to entertain in private.

Brandon, at over six feet tall, had to duck his head under the wooden roof beams in the low-ceilinged room. He glanced around out of habit to make sure they were alone. There was always the risk of being discovered, yet he felt more at home in Anne’s cramped lodgings than in his Uncle Thomas’s grand manor house in Southwark.

A welcoming log fire blazed in the stone hearth and beeswax candles lit the room with a soft yellow light. Brandon pulled off his damp coat and hat while Anne poured him a goblet of warmed mead. He sipped it gratefully and felt its sweet heat warm his throat.

She studied his face and frowned. ‘The bruising is worse.’ She reached out a hand as if to touch his swollen cheek but stopped herself and let it fall to her side. ‘My mother used to make a poultice from parsley – or perhaps it was daisies – for the bruising.’ She gave him a mischievous look. ‘I don’t think I’ll find either at this time of night though.’

He drained his goblet of mead. ‘I’ll live.’ Taking her in his arms, he gave her the long, slow kiss he’d been looking forward to all day. He liked the soft touch of her hands on his back, holding him close. The delicate scent of lavender aroused memories of their first time together. With reluctance he pulled himself away and gave her a wry grin. ‘It might have been worth it, after all. I have news. Good news.’

‘You’ve been spared a flogging?’ She raised an eyebrow.

He smiled. ‘It seems my luck is changing, for the better. Sir George Talbot has agreed to put my name forward for the King’s Spears.’

‘His personal bodyguard?’

‘The king’s yeomen are his bodyguard.’ He had to think for a moment, and then decided to be honest with her. ‘In truth, the Spears are something of a club for gentlemen adventurers – I’ve yet to learn what they get up to all day. The important thing is I’ll be one of the king’s trusted men.’ He heard the pride in his voice.

‘You already are. You’ve been serving at his table for how many years?’

Brandon frowned as he tried to remember. ‘Three, maybe four – but this is different. The king takes little enough notice of his servants.’ He realised she was teasing him.

Anne looked thoughtful. ‘You’ll be paid more?’

‘Of course.’ He grinned.

‘Enough to make an honest woman of me?’ There was an edge to her voice.

Brandon studied her face, unsure what to say. ‘I need the forty pounds’ worth of estates which would make me eligible for a knighthood. Then we shall talk of marriage.’

‘You talk of being a knight but do you think it will ever happen?’ She sounded doubtful.

‘I do. My father and my grandfather were both respected knights, and one day I will be too. This chance with the Spears is just the beginning. I’m going to make a name for myself, Anne. The King’s Spears are chosen men. If we go to war against the French we’ll be made captains and commanders – and I’ll be in all the jousts now, not just filling in when everyone else has fallen off.’

It was the most heartfelt speech he’d made in a long time and he believed the truth of his words. He’d somehow won over the Lord Steward and been offered the chance he’d been waiting for since becoming a servant of the king.

She pulled him closer with a look of concern. ‘You will take care? I’ve seen good men horribly wounded and even killed at the king’s jousts…’

Brandon kissed her again to silence her. ‘I promise to take care. That’s how I will become famous – by winning.’


Purchase: on Amazon UK and Amazon US

* * * 

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony was a finalist in the 2017 Amazon Storyteller Awards and is listed 130th in the 2018 Top 200 list of the Most Influential Authors. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on  Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

Secret Marriage: Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon


When Mary Tudor arrived in France she experience a French court that wasreasonably well ordered and steadily developing as the trend-setter in French material culture. Louis most definitely spoiled his new, young bride and Maryappears to have done her duty as an English Princess and made the King of France, her husband, very happy. As he said himself, “I cansufficiently praise and express my delight in her.

Nearly three months into their marriage, on 1 January 1515, King Louis XII of France died – he was 52 years old. He had been afflicted with gout for some time and just before his death had suffered a severe case of it.

After the King’s death, Mary was required to stay in France for awhile to ensure she was not carrying the late King’s heir. She was isolated from men for six weeks atPalais de Cluny until it was determined she was not with child.

Charles Brandon, newly titled Duke of Suffolk, was sent to France to escort marry back to England on the order of King Henry VIII. Charles was Mary’s true love – she secretly wished to marry him instead of Louis but had to abide by the order of her brother, the King. Henry was awarethat his sister did not want to marry the elderly French King. She had informed Henry that she would gladly marry Louis if heagreed to allow Mary to marry whomever she wanted if she were tooutlive her elderly husband.Henry undoubtedly agreed, but whether he meant it was a whole other story. He most likely just agreed to get his sister to leave for France and fulfill his own agenda.

Unfortunately, it seems that Henry never really meant what he said, as you’ll see from the below letters.

In our first letter, written a month and a half after the death of her husband, we see Mary discussing the new French king, Francis I, and his desire to arrange a new marriage for her. The new French King asked her if she had ever made a promise of marriage and she confessed that she wished to wed Charles, Duke of Suffolk. Francis seems to have encouraged the marriage. The French King’s motives are unknown.

According to Jean Perral, Mary Tudor BrandonFlorence, Uffizi, Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, inv. 3911 F.

Mary Queen-Dowager of France to Henry VIII
[Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies]
Paris, February 15, 1515

Pleaseth it your grace, the French king, on Tuesday night last past, came to visit me, and had with me many diverse discoursing, among the which he demanded me whether I had ever made any promise of marriage in any place, assuring me upon his honour, and upon the word of a prince, that in case I would be plain with him in that affair, that he would do for me therein to the best of his power, whether it were in his realm or out of the same. Whereunto I answered, that I would disclose unto him the secret of my heart in humility, as unto the prince of the world after your grace in whom I had most trust, and so declared unto him the good mind which for divers considerations I bear to my lord of Suffolk, asking him not only to grant me his favour and consent thereunto, but also that he would of his own hand write unto your grace, and to pray you to bear your like favour unto me, and to be content with the same; the which he granted me to do, and so hath done, according as shall appear unto your grace by his said letters. And, sir, I most humbly beseech you to take this answer which I have made unto the French king in good part, the which I did only to be discharged of the extreme pain and annoyance I was in, by reason of such suit as the French king made unto me not according with mine honour, the which he hath clearly left off. Also, sir, I feared greatly lest, in case that I had kept the matter from his knowledge, that he might have not well entreated my said lord of Suffolk, and the rather for to have returned to his former malfantasy and suits. Wherefore, sir, since it hath pleased the said king to desire and pray you of your favour and consent, I most humbly and heartily beseech you that it may like your grace to bear your favour and consent to the same, and to advertise the said king by your writing of your own hand of your pleasure, and in that he hath acted after mine opinion in his letter of request, it shall be to your great honour….to content with all your counsel and with all the other nobles of the realm, and agree thereto for your grace and for all the world; and therefore I eftsoon require you, for all the love that it liked your grace to bear me, that you do not refuse but grant me your favour and consent in form before rehearsed, the which if you shall deny me, I am well assured to lead as desolate a life as ever had creature, the which I know well shall be mine end. Always praying your grace to have compassion of me, my most loving and sovereign lord and brother, whereunto I have entreated you, beseeching God always to preserve your most royal estate.

I most humbly beseech your grace to consider, in case that you make difficulty to condescend to the promises as I wish, the French king will take new courage to renew his suits to me; assuring you that I had rather to be out of the world than it so should happen; and how he shall entreat my lord of Suffolk, God knoweth, with many other inconvenience, which might ensue of the same, the which I pray our Lord that I may never have life to see.

by your loving sister and true servant,

Mary Queen of France


In the next letter it appears that Mary heard from her brother and was aware that he was not happy with her and Charles.

Mary Queen-Dowager of France to Henry VIII
[Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies]

Pleaseth it your grace, to my greatest discomfort, sorrow, and disconsolation, but lately I have been advertised of the great and high displeasure which your highness beareth unto me and my lord of Suffolk for the marriage between us. Sir, I will not in any wise deny but that I have offended your grace, for the which I do put myself most humbly in your clemency and mercy. Nevertheless, to the intent that your highness should not think that I had simply, carnally, or of any sensual appetite done the same, I having no regard to fall in your grace’s displeasure, I assure your grace that I had never done against your ordinance and consent, but by the reason of the great despair wherein I was put by the two friars…which hath certified me in case I come to England your counsel would never consent to the marriage between the said lord and me, with many other sayings concerning the same promise, so that I verily thought that the said friars would never have offered to have made me like overture unless they might have had charge from some of your council, the which put me in such consternation, fear and doubt of the obtaining of the thing which I desired most in this world, that I rather chose to put me in your mercy accomplishing the marriage than to put me in the order of your council knowing them to be otherwise minded. Whereupon, sir, I put my lord of Suffolk in choice whether he would accomplish the marriage within four days, or else that he should never have enjoyed me; whereby I know well that I constrained him to break such promises as he made your grace, as well for fear of losing of me as also that I ascertained him that by their consent I would never come into England. And now that our grace knoweth the both offences, of the which I have been the only occasion. I most humbly and as your most sorrowful sister require you to have compassion upon us both and to pardon our offences, and that it will please your grace to write to me and to my lord of Suffolk some comfortable words, for it should be greatest comfort for us both.

By your loving and most humble sister,


believed to be Princess Mary Tudor by unknown artist

It’s possible that this letter was sent from Calais, a stop on their way back to England. In the letter she mentions that it was all her idea and that Charles had not provoked the matter. Mary had set her mind to marrying Charles and so she did. When Henry VIII sent his friend to France to escort marry back he made Charles promise he would not marry his sister (also mentioned in the above letter)- Henry knew how much Mary liked Charles and must have recalled the promise he had made his sister.

Mary Queen-Dowager of France to Henry VIII
[Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies]

My most dear and entirely beloved brother,

In most humble manner, I recommend me to your grace.

Dearest brother, I doubt not but that you have in your good remembrance that whereas for the good of peace and for the furtherance of your affairs you moved me to marry with my lord and late husband, king Louis of France, whose soul God pardon. Though I understood that he was very aged and sickly, yet for advancement of the said peace and for the furtherance of your causes. I was contented to conform myself to your said motion, so that if I should fortune to survive the said late king I might have affixed and clearly determined myself to marry with him; and the same [I] assure you hath proceeded only of mine own mind, without any request or labour of my said lord Suffolk, or of any other person. And to be plain with your grace, I have so bound myself unto him that for no cause earthly I will or may vary or change from the same. Wherefore my good and most kind brother, I now beseech your grace to take this matter in good part, and to give unto me and to my said lord of Suffolk your good will herein. Ascertaining you, that upon the trust and comfort which I have, for that you have always honourably regarded your promise, I am now come out of the realm of France, and have put myself within your jurisdiction in this your town of Calais, where I intend to remain till such time as I shall have answer from you of your good and loving mind herein; which I would not have done but upon the faithful trust that I have in your said promise. Humbly beseeching your grace, for the great and tender love which ever hath been and shall be between you and me, to bear your gracious mind and show yourself to be agreeable thereunto, and to certify me by your most loving letters of the same till which time I will make mine abode here, and no farther enter your realm. And to the intent it may please you the rather to condescend to this my most hearty desire, I am contended and expressly promise and bind me to you, by these presents, to give you all the whole dote which delivered with me, and also all such plate of gold and jewels as I shall have of my said late husband’s. Over and besides this I shall, rather than fail, give you as much yearly part of my dower, to as great a sum as shall stand with your will and pleasure; and of all the premises I promise, upon knowledge of your good mind, to make unto you sufficient bonds. Trusting, verily, that in fulfilling of your said promise to me made, you will show your brotherly love, affection, and good mind to me in this behalf, which to hear of I abide with most desire; and not to be miscontented with my said lord of Suffolk, whom of mine inward good mind and affection to him I have in manner enforced to be agreeable to the same, without any request by him made; as knoweth our Lord, whom I beseech to have your grace in his merciful governance.

Master of the Brandon Portrait (fl. circa 1510-1540) - Christie's
Master of the Brandon Portrait (fl. circa 1510-1540) – Christie’s

The Duke of Suffolk to Henry VIII
[Calendar, Henry VIII, Vol. II, Preface XXXI.]
Montrruil, April 22, 1515

Most gracious Sovereign Lord, – So it is that I am informed divers (many) ways that all your whole council, my Lord of York excepted, with many other, are clearly determined to “tympe” your grace that I may either be put to death or put in prison, and so to be destroyed. Alas, Sir, I may say that I have a hard fortune, seeing that there was never none of them in trouble but I was glad to help them to my power, and that your grace knows best. And now that I am in this none little trouble and sorrow, now they are ready to help to destroy me. But, Sir, I can no more but God forgive them whatsoever comes to me; for I am determined. For, Sir, your grace is he that is my sovereign lord and master, and he that hath brought me up out of nought; and I am your subject and servant, and he that hath offended your grace in breaking my promise that I made your grace touching the queen your sister; for the which I, with most humble heart, will yield myself into your grace’s hands to do with my poor body your gracious pleasure, not fearing the malice of them; for I know your grace of such nature that it cannot lie in their powers to cause you to destroy me for their malice. But what punishment I have I shall thank God and your grace of it, and think that I have well deserved it both to God and your grace; as knows our Lord who send your grace your most honourable heart’s desire with long life, and me most sorrowful wretch your gracious favour, what sorrow soever I endure therefore.

At Mottryll, the 22nd day of April, by your most humble subject and servant,

Charles Suffolke

Mary’s Signature:mary-tudor-signature


Mumby, Frank Arthur; “The Youth of Henry VIII – A Narrative in Contemporary Letters

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Mary Tudor: English Princess, French Queen

Mary’s Motto: La volent De Dieu me suffit - The will of God is sufficient for me.

Mary Tudor
Mary Tudor

Princess Mary Tudor was bornon 18 March 1496 as the fifth of seven childrento Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Mary became a beautiful young lady and was considered to be one of the most attractivewomen in Europe, at the time. This is no surprise as the same was said about her mother, Elizabeth of York. Mary was only seven years old when her mother passed away.

As with her sister Margaret, Mary would play a pivotal role in political alliances.At the of age six, she was given her own household andwas given instruction in French, Latin, music, dancing, and embroidery.

Henry, Duke of York (future Henry VIII) and Mary got along very well as children — they had a very close relationship. It is said that Henry named the Mary Rose after his favorite sister and his daughter Mary as well.

Mary was initially betrothed to the future Charles V of Spain (in 1507) and after many delays, Henry VIII called off the betrothal. The next alliance and betrothal for Mary (at 18 years old) was with the French king, Louis XII. He was 34 years her senior. King Louis had no heir and needed one quickly because his health was failing fast. This was a great alliance for Henry VIII — to have France as an ally would be convenientfor England. At the time, young Princess Mary was already head-over-heals in love with Henry’s best friend, Charles Brandon — marrying Charles was out of the question since he was below her station andnot of noble birth.

Mary refused to wed the French king, weeping and sulking, and demanding to be allowed to marry Charles. Of course, her brother refused. So, Mary struck a deal with Henry: she would do her princess duty and marry the French King. But, if she were to outlive Louis – which was very likely – she wanted her next husband to be one of her own choosing. Henry agreed, quite possibly with the intention of never honoring his promise.” – Quoted via

On 9 October 1514, Princess Mary wed the King of France – Louis XII, and became Queen (consort) of France. Louis had no living son and it was imperative that they produce an heir soon after the wedding. Mary knew that her “elderly”husband was ill — if she became pregnant with a son and Louis died, that sonwould be the next ruler and she, most likely regent.

On 1 January 1515, almost three months after their wedding, King Louis XII died. Mary reputedly wore out the king by his exertions in the bedroom to produce an heir. Their marriage produced no heirs and Mary was called, Dowager Queen after Louis’ death.

The new king of France, Francis I, attempted to arrange a second marriage for the Dowager Queen, but she only wanted Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Her brother, Henry VIII had agreed that she could marry whomever she liked after the death of Louis. Little did she know, Henry would not stand by his promise. In late January 1515, Henry VIII sent Charles Brandon to bring Mary back to England — he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her.[1]

Mary_Tudor_and_Charles_BrandonWhen Charles Brandon arrived in France, Mary quickly convinced him to abandon his agreement with the King of England. Mary had heard rumors that her brother, the king, was planning a new marriage for her and would not follow through on his original promise. Having heard those rumors, Mary and Charles committed treason by secretly marrying, on 3 March 1515, (in the presence of King Francis I) sincethey did not get permission from Henry to wed.

Henry VIII was furious when he found out his best friend, and favorite sister married without his approval, or permission. Henry’s initial reaction was to remove Charles’ head from his body – but after much thought and time he only fined his favorites and allowed them to officially wed in England on13 May 1515 in the presence of the kinghimself, and other courtiers. Mary became the Duchess of Suffolk, but was still called the french queen. Being a queen outranked being a duchess, and it was a reminder to Mary that she married below her station. Did it really bother her? Probably not, since she got her way.

Charles and Mary went on to have four children – their first, a son (1516) – named Henry after the King. Their second child was a daughter, Frances (1517), reportedly named after the king of France who allowed them to wed in the first place. In 1519, they had another daughter, Eleanor, and in 1523 another son named Henry (after their first son had died in 1522).

On 25 June 1533, Mary Tudor died at her home atWesthorpe Hall – she was 37 years old.She was laid to rest in the abbey at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. She was moved to St Marys Church in Bury St Edmunds during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Mary’s Legacy: Marys granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, became the Nine Day Queen after the death of Edward VI in 1553. Lady Jane Grey was overthrown by Mary, who became Mary I, and was executed on the 12th February 1554 after being convicted of treason.[2]

Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36 pp. 397-400 MacMillan: London, 1893
[1] Weir, “Henry VIII,” p. 178
[2] Read more:

You just read Part 5 of the Series – Part 5: Mary Tudor, 5th child and third daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was the last to survive infancy.

Catch up here:

Part 1: The Redemption of Elizabeth of York
Part 2: Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King
Part 3: The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish Queen
Part 4: The Legacy ofHenryVIII

Henry VIII’s Best Friend: Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

by Wenceslaus Hollar, after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 1647
by Wenceslaus Hollar, after Hans Holbein the Younger, line engraving, possibly 1647

Charles Brandon
Born: circa end of 1483/early 1484
Death: 22 August 1545
Parents: Sir William Brandon & Elizabeth Bruyn
Marriage #1: Margaret (Neville) Mortimer (the widow of John Mortimer)
Marriage #2: Anne Browne
Marriage #3: Mary Tudor, Queen Dowager of France (Henry VIII’s sister)
Marriage #4: Catherine Willoughby
Anne Brandon, Baroness Grey of Powis
Mary Brandon, Baroness Monteagle
Frances, Duchess of Suffolk
Eleanor, Countess of Cumberland
Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln
Henry Brandon, Duke of Suffolk
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

The son of William Brandon, who was the standard bearer for Henry Tudor during the Battle of Bosworth, Charles Brandon’s fate was held solely by his father’s decisions. William Brandon was killed during the Battle of Bosworth – some say by the hand of Richard IIIhimself. His loyalty and ultimate sacrifice to Henry Tudor (soon to be Henry VII) catapulted his son, Charles into the circle of the future Henry VIII.Henry VII repaid William’s loyalty by educating Charles with his own children. Henry (VIII) and Charles became fast friends and stayed that way for decades. Charles was rare in the fact that he remained friends with Henry for so long, even after marrying his favorite sister, Mary without his consent.

Charles Brandon Photo Christie’s Images Ltd 2011
by Unknown artist, oil on panel, late 16th century
by Unknown artist, oil on panel, late 16th century
Mary Brandon, Charles' daughter with Anne Browne.
Mary Brandon, Charles’ daughter with Anne Browne.


Frances Brandon, Charles' daughter with Mary Tudor.
Frances Brandon, Charles’ daughter with Mary Tudor.
Eleanor Brandon, Charles’ daughter with Mary Tudor.
Henry Brandon, Charles' son with Mary Tudor.
Henry Brandon, Charles’ son with Mary Tudor.


Henry Brandon, Charles' son with Catherine Willoughby.
Henry Brandon, Charles’ son with Catherine Willoughby.

Charles Brandon, Charles' son with Mary Tudor.

Charles Brandon, Charles’ son with Catherine Willoughby.


Charles Brandon & Mary Tudor - Duke & Duchess of Suffolk
Charles Brandon & Mary Tudor – Duke & Duchess of Suffolk
Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk
Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk