Most Influential Tudor Women: Margaret Beaufort

On my Facebook page called, Tudors Dynasty, I asked my followers who they believed to be the most influential women of the Tudor era. It is because of this poll that I decided to turn this into a series of episodes about some amazing Tudor women.

Before I start, let’s understand what influential truly means.

The Definition of Influential is: having great influence on someone or something.

Now that we know the definition of the word, does that change our ideas about who we believe were some of the most influential of the Tudor period?



Poll Results

When I posed this question on my blog and took a poll, the winner was, with 35% of the votes, Queen Elizabeth I, followed by her great-grandmother, Margaret Beaufort with 27% and rounding off the top three was her mother, Anne Boleyn with 19%. I honestly was not too surprised by the results.

Since I have already done a six-part series on Elizabeth I decided to do this episode on Margaret Beaufort – someone whom many of you have requested I talk more about.

With that, this article could not have happened without the wonderful guidance of Susan Abernethy and her website, The Freelance History Writer. Susan is also the admin for the Facebook page, Tudor History Lovers.

So, here we go…

Margaret Beaufort

Let’s talk about Margaret Beaufort. Authors like Philippa Gregory have not done Margaret the justice she deserves. While Gregory used to be one of my favorite Historical Fiction authors, I agree with many that her dislike for Beaufort is evident in her books.

Margaret lived quite an amazing life. Born on the 31st of May 1443, Margaret was the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset and Margaret Beauchamp. Margaret’s father was the grandson of the well-known, John of Gaunt and his mistress (whom later he married) Katherine Swynford.

Margaret Beaufort was married several times. Not unusual for the time. Her first marriage (which may have only been a betrothal) was around 1450 – Margaret was merely six or seven years old and she wed John de la Pole. Pole’s father, the Earl of Suffolk had arranged the marriage. Whether or not there was an actual marriage is unclear but Margaret was returned to her mother and it is agreed that the marriage was never consummated. However, when the Earl of Suffolk was disgraced in 1450, their marriage (or betrothal) was voided. It was as if the marriage never happened and later in life Margaret never considered him as one of her husbands.

That same year Edmund and Jasper Tudor were granted her wardship by their half-brother, King Henry VI.



Genealogy

Before I go forward, for those unfamiliar with their genealogy, the King, Edmund and Jasper all shared the same mother, Katherine of Valois. Katherine was the wife of King Henry V and they had a son, Henry, who became the Sixth King Henry upon the death of his father and predecessor.

Katherine, still young (not quite 21) and stunningly beautiful fell in love with Owen Tudor (a member of her household), they may have secretly wed (there is no evidence available to prove a marriage) but we do know that they were the parents of Edmund and Jasper. Following along?

First Marriage

Some have speculated that Henry VI planned the wardship of 1453 so that one of his half-brothers could wed Margaret, who was a surviving member of the House of Lancaster. Two years later (1455) Margaret, then twelve years old married Edmund who was twenty-two and the Earl of Richmond.

Even though Margaret was only twelve at the time of their marriage the marriage was consummated and Margaret soon became pregnant. Margaret was just a child by today’s standards and physically she most definitely was still very petite.

In August of 1456, while Margaret was pregnant with his child, Edmund Tudor was captured by an ally of the Duke of York and imprisoned. He died three months later of the plague at Carmarthen Castle. After the death of her husband, the heavily pregnant thirteen year-old girl placed herself under the protection of Jasper Tudor, her brother-in-law at Pembroke Castle, the place her son Henry (named for King Henry VI) was born at the end of January 1457.

Wars of the Roses

Shall we discuss briefly the Wars of the Roses briefly?

The Wars of the Roses were the civil wars fought in England and Wales between the Houses of York and Lancaster between 1455 and 1485 and most definitely ended with the battle of Bosworth in 1485, when the army of Henry Tudor (the future Henry VII, the first Tudor king) killed Richard III. In my opinion, the battles began when King Henry VI could no longer rule his country due to his health condition. What was his health condition?

From HenryVI.com:

The great disorder or illness that struck down King Henry in August 1453 and kept him in what appears to have been a catatonic stupor for over a year. The causes are still not known to modern medicine. Most modern diagnoses of the King’s illness tentatively identify it as catatonic schizophrenia. Henry’s maternal grandfather King Charles VI of France suffered from recurring, severe bouts of “madness”, during which he became dangerously violent, did not recognise his wife or the fact that he was king.

When the Henry VI was having one of his bouts was about the time that Richard, Duke of York (father of Edward IV and Richard III) began to fight for what he believed was his rightful place on the throne of England. Anyway, I digress – Back to Margaret.



Birth of Henry Tudor & Second Marriage

At thirteen years old, the birth of her son had been hard on the young woman’s body. It is believed that Margaret suffered permanent damage from childbirth and would have no other children.

For the first year of Henry’s life Margaret remained at Pembroke with her brother-in-law. She had asked Jasper for assistance in finding her a second husband. Finally an agreement was made and Margaret married the Duke of Buckingham’s son, Henry Stafford in January 1458. After the wedding, young Henry stayed in the custody of his uncle Jasper and Margaret and her husband made regular visits.

Separated From Her Son

Unfortunately their happiness would not last long when in 1461, Edward, Earl of March became King Edward IV, Margaret’s son’s wardship was sold to a Yorkist supporter – Lord Herbert. Luckily for Margaret she was still able to schedule regular visits to see her son and when she could not see him she would send letters to Lord Herbert asking about her son’s well-being.

The Battle of Barnet, in April 1471, was a game changer for Margaret and her little family. Her husband was wounded and had to return home due to his injuries. Less than a month later there was another Yorkist victory at the Battle of Tewkesbury. It was at Tewkesbury that Henry VI’s wife, Margaret of Anjou was defeated and their son Edward was killed.

Roughly a week after the Battle of Tewkesbury, Henry VI, who had been locked in the Tower was killed – or murdered.

Because of the death of Henry VI, Margaret Beaufort and her son held the strongest claim to the English throne on the Lancastrian side. Because of those claims, young Henry’s life was in danger as he posed a threat to Edward IV and the House of York – because of that Jasper Tudor fled England with Henry and ended up in Brittany.

Six months after he sustained his injuries at the Battle of Barnet, Margaret’s second husband (Henry Stafford) died, most likely from his wounds.



Third Marriage

Margaret, a Lancastrian (with rights to the throne) was in danger without a husband during the reign of the Yorkist, Edward IV. Eight months after the death of her second husband, Margaret married for a third time to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby. With Stanley’s influence and position at court Margaret was able to protect her land and wealth, but Stanley, as her husband, would now have access to it all – so it benefited him in the long run.

Since her new husband was tight with King Edward IV both Stanley and Margaret did spend time at court. It does not appear, however, that their marriage was necessarily a happy one. That is no unusual as many marriages during the time were arranged and did not happen out of love.

While at the court of Edward IV, Margaret tried everything in her power to return her son Henry to favor.

It wasn’t until 1476 that she gained favor with the Queen consort, Elizabeth Woodville and six years later Margaret was given the honor of holding Princess Bridget at her christening.

After ingratiating herself with the King and Queen she was able to persuade Edward IV to allow her son, Henry to return to England. Part of the deal was that they had also discussed a marriage between their daughter the Princess Elizabeth and Henry Tudor. Unfortunately, before the deal could be finalized Edward IV died. Henry could not yet return to England – it was not safe.

Reign of Richard III

Margaret and her son were once again thrown into political uncertainty with the reign of the new young King Edward V. Because of the young King’s youth his uncle and protector, Richard of Gloucester had the children of his brother (Edward IV) and Elizabeth Woodville declared illegitimate due to a marriage between the deceased King and Eleanor Butler prior to his marriage to Woodville. The next in line to the throne after Edward’s children was….you called it, Richard. He then became Richard III.

Richard did not have an easy time of it. There were many who believed what he had done was completely unacceptable (especially Elizabeth Woodville) and would do whatever it took to remove the usurper.

This was about the time that Margaret Beaufort and dowager queen Elizabeth Woodville began to discuss more seriously a marriage between their children. This marriage would benefit both parties and the two women were eager to see it come to fruition.

Richard III at the time was not sure who he could trust, I mean, it was really his own fault. Did he truly believe that his nieces and nephews were illegitimate? Or did he just use it as an excuse for his ambition? Since Richard did not know for sure if Stanley, the husband of a Lancastrian heir would be loyal to him, he imprisoned him for a short while. Once Stanley had declared his support for Richard III he was released. Surprisingly, both Stanley and Margaret took part in the coronation of Richard and his consort, Anne Neville. Margaret had gained enough favor that she carried the queen’s train.

Henry was constantly on Margaret’s mind. All she wanted for her son was to regain his titles and lands that were stripped from him when Edward IV came to throne. In addition, she wished for her son to return to England after YEARS in exile.

With the help of her nephew, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret felt confident that her son could return to England and fight for the Crown.

When Richard III discovered the plot to remove him from the throne, the Duke of Buckingham was apprehended and executed. Margaret’s life was spared (only because of Stanley’s loyalty to the king) but she was attained for treason by Parliament and sentenced to life in prison (really house arrest) – her goods and lands were also confiscated by the Crown.

Battle of Bosworth

Even though Margaret was under house arrest she was still able to keep in contact with her son. By the Summer of 1485, Henry was on his way to England with his uncle Jasper and troops. It was the Battle of Bosworth that changed the course of history when the troops of Henry Tudor (along with the help of his step-father) defeated and killed Richard III.

Henry Tudor became King Henry VII of England when Richard III took his last breath and his army was defeated.

Margaret, at least for a moment, could breathe a sigh of relief. She was released from her house arrest (and obviously got back her goods and land) and after fourteen years apart the mother and son were reunited.



Henry VII

With her son was back in England and now King, the marriage she had planned with Elizabeth Woodville happened on the 18th of January 1486, about two months after his coronation. This marriage combined together the Houses of York and Lancaster, effectively ending the War of the Roses.

From day one of Henry’s reign Margaret was by her son’s side. He had been away from England for over a decade and she was able to offer him advice on politics when needed. Margaret also played an important role in Henry’s new reign as she assisted in many matters including ceremonies and special commissions.

I love this next part – due to her new position as My Lady, the King’s Mother, Margaret was able to gain independence from her husband. This allowed her to have sole claim to all her property and land. Almost unheard of back then.

Margaret may have also been a mother-in-law from hell. Poor Elizabeth of York (who had been raised to marry one day and become a consort) was overshadowed by Margaret who essentially acted like she was Queen.

When it came to her grandchild, Margaret was delighted. She is said to have had a special relationship with her grandson, Henry.

From Susan Abernethy and her website, thefreelancehistorywriter.com:

In her later years Margaret made significant religious, educational and literary contributions. She became a patron and benefactor of two colleges at Cambridge University.

Margaret would just barely outlive her son, Henry VII who died in April 1509. She was able to witness the wedding of her grandson Henry to Katherine of Aragon and then the dual coronation. Margaret passed away on the 29th of June 1509 – five days after Henry’s coronation.

After years of upheaval and struggles, Margaret Beaufort could finally rest in peace knowing that the Tudor name would be carried on through her grandson Henry VIII. Little did she know how it would all play out. The Tudor dynasty reigned 118 years.

Sources:

https://thefreelancehistorywriter.com/2014/01/10/lady-margaret-beaufort-the-kings-mother/

https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/lady-margaret-beaufort/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Beaufort,_Countess_of_Richmond_and_Derby

https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/12-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-wars-of-the-roses/


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Researching the Tudors (Guest Post)

Today we welcome best-selling author, Tony Riches, whose newest book, “Henry” (from his Tudor Trilogy) has reached #1 on Amazon. Congratulations to Tony!

Researching the Tudor Trilogy – Tony Riches

The idea for the Tudor Trilogy came to me when I began looking into the life of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen, and was surprised to find there were no books offering a full picture of his amazing story.  I soon found out why, as the known facts of Owen Tudor’s life are so sparse. There are no images of him and even his name is sometimes written as ‘Tidder’ or ‘Tetyr’ and was probably Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwror).

As my research progressed I began to collect fascinating details of the lives of Owen’s sons, Edmund and Jasper. I realised that if I planned it as a trilogy, Henry Tudor would be born in the first book, come of age in the second and become King of England in the final book.

The research for the first book, OWEN, consisted mostly of reading about the well documented life of his wife, Queen Catherine of Valois. Although there are plenty of references to their marriage I found no real evidence – so it seems to have happened in secret. I had to piece together the details of Owen’s life by cross-checking different sources, then try to ‘fill in the gaps’ from other records of the period. As an example of how tricky that was, here’s a contemporary account of how Owen met his end from The Chronicle of William Gregory:

Ande in that jornay was Owyn Tetyr i-take and brought unto Herforde este, an he was be heddyde at the market place, and hys hedde sette a-pone the hygheyste gryce of the market crosse, and a madde woman kembyd hys here and wysche a way the blode of hys face, and she gate candellys and sette a-boute hym brennynge, moo then a C. Thys Owyne Tytyr was fadyr unto the Erle of Penbroke, and hadde weddyd Quene Kateryn, Kyng Harry the VI. ys modyr, wenyng and trustyng all eway that he shulde not be hedyd tylle he sawe the axe and the blocke, and whenn that he was in hys dobelet he trustyd on pardon and grace tylle the coler of hys redde vellvet dobbelet was ryppyd of. Then he sayde, “That hede shalle ly on the stocke that was wonte to ly on Quene Kateryns lappe,” and put hys herte and mynde holy unto God, and fulle mekely toke hys dethe.

(Source: British History Online)

Owen’s first son Edmund died from wounds or a form of bubonic plague while in prison in November 1456, two months before Margaret Beaufort gave birth to Henry in Pembroke Castle.  I visited the scene of Edmund’s death at Carmarthen Castle and found only the gatehouse remains, as the castle was largely demolished to build a Victorian Prison.

Fortunately, Edmund’s tomb was rescued from Carmarthen Priory during the dissolution, so I was able to visit it at St David’s Cathedral, although even there it wasn’t safe. Stripped of its finery by Oliver Cromwell’s army in the seventeenth century, the tomb was restored in 1873 with an engraved brass representing Edmund Tudor by Thomas Waller.

Edmund Tudor’s tomb in St David’s Cathedral ©Tony Riches

It was left to Edmund’s younger brother to continue the story of the Tudors in the second book of the trilogy, JASPER. Now my research became easier, as he was based at Pembroke Castle (in the town where I was born) and owned a house in Tenby, close to where I now live. I was also able to get a sense of the sort of man Jasper was from his letters which still survive, such as this one, written on the 25th of February 1461, three weeks after the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross:

To the right-trusty and well-beloved Roger à Puleston, and to John Eyton, and to either of them. Right-trusty and well-beloved Cousins and frinds, we grete you well. And suppose that yee have well in yor remembrance the great dishonor and rebuke that we and yee now late have by traytors Marche, Harbert, and Dunns, with their affinityes, as well in letting us of our Journey to the Kinge, as in putting my father yor Kinsman to the death, and their trayterously demeaning, we purpose with the might of our Lord, and assistance of you and other our kinsmen & frinds, within short time to avenge. Trusting verily that yee will be well-willed and put your hands unto the same, and of your disposicon, with your good advice therein we pray you to ascertayne us in all hast possible, as our especiall trust is in you. Written at our towne of Tenbye the xxvth of ffeu’r.

  1. PEMBROKE

(Source Welsh Journals No. II April 1846)

Eventually the Yorkists forced Jasper and the young Henry Tudor to flee for their lives. The secret tunnel they used to reach the harbour still exists, so I was able to see it for myself and walk in their footsteps deep under the streets of Tenby.

‘Secret’ Tunnel under Tenby ©Tony Riches

I’ve sailed from Tenby harbour many times, including at night, so have a good understanding of how they might have felt as they slipped away to Brittany. Rather than follow their course around Land’s End I chose to sail on the car ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo in Brittany, where I began to retrace the Tudor’s time in exile.

I’ve read that little happened during those fourteen years but of course Brittany was where Henry would come of age and begin to plan his return. Starting at the impressive palace of Duke Francis of Brittany in Vannes, I followed the Tudors to the Château de Suscinio on the coast. I was amazed to find it has been restored to look much as it might have when Jasper and Henry were there, and the surrounding countryside and coastline is largely unchanged.

The Château de Suscinio in Brittany ©Tony Riches

Duke Francis of Brittany, began to worry when Yorkist agents began plotting to capture the Tudors, so he moved them to different fortresses further inland. I stayed by the river within sight of the magnificent Château de Josselin, were Jasper was effectively held prisoner. Although the inside has been updated over the years, the tower where Jasper lived survives and I was even able to identify Tudor period houses in the medieval town which he would have seen from his window.

Château de Josselin ©Tony Riches

Henry’s château was harder to find but worth the effort. The Forteresse de Largoët is deep in the forest outside of the town of Elven. His custodian, Marshall of Brittany, Jean IV, Lord of Rieux and Rochefort, had two sons of similar age to Henry and it is thought they continued their education together. Proof I was at the right place was in the useful leaflet in English which confirmed that: ‘On the second floor of the Dungeon Tower and to the left is found a small vaulted room where the Count of Richemont was imprisoned for 18 months (1474-1475).

The Forteresse de Largoët ©Tony Riches

 

Entering the Dungeon Tower through a dark corridor, I regretted not bringing a torch, as the high stairway is lit only by the small window openings. Interestingly, the lower level is octagonal, with the second hexagonal and the rest square. Cautiously feeling my way up the staircase I was walking in the footsteps of the young Henry Tudor, who would also have steadied himself by placing his hand against the cold stone walls, nearly five and a half centuries before. (Although it was called the ‘dungeon tower’, in subsequent research I discovered intriguing details at the National Library of Wales which suggest Henry Tudor enjoyed more freedom at this time than is generally imagined. The papers claim that, ‘by a Breton lady’, Henry Tudor fathered a son, Roland Velville, whom he knighted after coming to the throne.)

When I returned to Wales I made the journey to remote Mill Bay, where Henry and Jasper landed with their small invasion fleet. A bronze plaque records the event and it was easy to imagine how they might have felt as they began the long march to confront King Richard at Bosworth. On the anniversary of the battle I walked across Bosworth field and watched hundreds of re-enactors recreate the battle, complete with cavalry and cannon fire.

Re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth ©Tony Riches

The challenge I faced for the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, was too much information. Henry left a wealth of detailed records, often initialing every line in his ledgers, which still survive. At the same time, I had to deal with the contradictions, myths and legends that cloud interpretation of the facts. I decided the only way was to immerse myself in Henry’s world and explore events as they might have appeared from his point of view. I stood in the small room in Pembroke Castle where Henry Tudor is thought to have been born, (within sight of where I was born) and began three years of intensive research about this enigmatic king.

I bought every book I could find about Henry and his times, and also studied the lives of those around him, including his mother, Margaret Beaufort, and his queen, Elizabeth of York. As I reached the end I decided to visit Henry’s Tomb in Westminster Abbey. There is something quite surreal about making your way through Westminster Abbey to the Lady Chapel at the far end. There are many amazing distractions, as you pass the tombs of earlier kings and Henry’s granddaughter Elizabeth I in a side chapel. Henry’s tomb dominates the centre of the Lady Chapel and is surrounded by a high bronze grille. His effigy is raised too high to see, so I climbed a convenient step and peered through the holes in the grille. There lay Henry with his wife, Elizabeth of York, their gilded hands clasped in prayer.

I am pleased to say that after all these years researching the lives of the early Tudors, all three books of the trilogy have become international best sellers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers around the world who have been on this journey with me. Although this is the end of the Tudor trilogy, I am now researching the life of Henry’s daughter Mary and her adventurous husband Charles Brandon, so the story of the Tudors is far from over.

Tony Riches

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.  The Tudor Trilogy is available on Amazon UK  Amazon US and Amazon AU

 

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Introducing My Tudors Dynasty Podcast Page

Hello! As you may or may not know already, I have started a separate site where I will be posting podcasts for your listening pleasure. I shared my first one the Tudors Dynasty Facebook page (and Twitter page) for free and I’m very excited about all the positive feedback I’ve received thus far. I’m already working on my second podcast. 🙂

To make sure you do not miss out on future podcasts, articles, polls and more items that are different than what you see here - please check out my #Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/tudorsdynasty - if each of you signed up at the $1 per month level (can cancel anytime) you would be allowing me to spend A LOT more time researching and providing you with more Tudor stories. This is what the page looks like, all you have to do is click on “Become a patron” and then choose the level you’d like to be at – each level unlocks more prizes for you each month!

CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DIFFERENT OPTIONS FOR BECOMING A PATRON

Here is the first podcast that is available for free to everyone – all future podcasts will require only $1 per month membership.

Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me over the past couple years. I’ve been working hard to learn more every day so I can provide you with facts and stories that you may not have heard before. This growth project will only continue to bring you more!

-Rebecca

My Book Review: Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy

Jane Seymour

In recent years I’ve recognized that my favorite books are ones that are written in the first person. It allows me to imagine that I’m that character meandering through the story. This book does not disappoint.

Until reading “Owen” by Tony Riches I previously only read Tudor period historical fiction books written by women. The ones I enjoyed the most were all written in the first person style, including this one. Reading a book written by a man gave me a different insight into the story.

Owen Tudor is rarely written about – as far as I know this is the first book about him. The fact that it’s written by a fellow Welshman adds a sense of credibility to it. This book allowed my imagine to run wild with ideas of what it was like.

Catherine de Valois? wooden funeral effigy
Catherine Valois? wooden funeral effigy

Owen Tudor worked his way into the household of dowager queen Catherine of Valois sometime after the death of her husband, Henry V. From the beginning Owen was enamored by the beauty and frailty of the queen – he was instantly attracted to her, but she didn’t really know he existed.

As I’m sure was quite common in a large household, Owen found ‘love’ with another servant, Juliette. Juliette made the first move and showed up at Owen’s door one night. They ended up sleeping together that night – Owen couldn’t resist her beauty.

While Owen and Juliette continued their secret affair, he secretly only had eyes for the queen. It wasn’t long before Juliette figured it out, however, she was willing to share Owen with his fantasy, assuming it wouldn’t become a reality.

As we all know already, Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois married (some may dispute the marriage) and had children together. If you’re a fan of the Outlander books or TV series you’ll appreciate the nature of their romance and all the troubles along the way…all the people who tried to come between them and keep them apart. Owen always had Catherine in his heart. Until the very end. Just like Jamie and his Sassenauch.

While reading the book I kept wondering how Tony Riches was going to end the story of Owen. When I reached the last page of the book I was very pleased with the ending – he couldn’t have written a better ending to a story about a warrior, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a lover. Owen Tudor was a real person. This book brings him to life in a beautiful way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was an easy read. If you’re a fan of the Tudor dynasty you truly need to read about where it all began. Owen and Catherine.

xoxo Rebecca

Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling historical fiction and non-fiction books. His latest novel, JASPER ? Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy, can be found on Amazon UK??Amazon US?and?Amazon AU. For more information about Tony?s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

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Catherine of Valois: Family History with Mental Illness

catherine-of-valois-family-history-withmental-illness

Catherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI of France and Isabelle of Bavaria was born into royalty at the royal palace of the Hôtel Saint-Pol in Paris on 27 October 1401.

Catherine’s father was called, “Charles the Mad” because of his bouts with mental illness.  Through my research I’ve discovered that he is not the only family member with mental illness. There were more – it’s almost alarming and mostly surprising that she did not suffer from it herself.

Catherine’s father, Charles VI was mentally ill, he is believed to have suffered from schizophrenia, Charles experienced delusions, believing he was made of glass or denying he had a wife and children. He ran from room to room until he collapsed from exhaustion, declaring that his enemies were upon him. Charles’ illness is believed to have been later inherited by his grandson, Henry VI of England. Charles’ ancestors were closely related. His mother, the French Princess, Joan of Bourbon (1338-1377) was slightly unstable, as were her brother, Louis, Duke of Bourbon, her father and grandfather, she suffered a complete nervous breakdown in 1373 after the birth of her seventh child.” ¹

In general, medieval Europeans allowed the mentally ill their freedom, as long as they were not dangerous to others. With that being said there were often times when the mentally ill were labeled as witches or said to be possessed by demons.



I’m not sure how they treated Charles VI for his illness but it is known that common “remedies” were: Bleeding of the humors, exorcism, shaving a cross on the head of the “infected” person and having them drink ice-cold water.

Did the royal family understand that this was something that was genetic? Obviously it was passed down through the generations. Some were spared but some of the unlucky ones had a very confusing and difficult life. Did Catherine of Valois understand that when she had a child that it was possible this child could also carry this family “curse?”

The early years for Catherine of Valois were not as rich and glamorous as one might expect of a royal family. She was the tenth child of her parents and at the time France was in chaos due to her father’s bouts of insanity.² This left an opening for other countries, like England, to fight for throne of France.

In 1405, Henry IV of England had suffered the first of many debilitating illnesses. In pain, and clearly unable to rule his nation he ceded power to his council, which included his son, Henry, also known as “Hal.” Over the final years of King Henry’s reign it is believed there was tension between the king and his son. It is said that when the king lay dying his young son took the crown from his head. Still alive, Henry IV asked his son what right he had to the crown since it had been won in blood and not received through a divinely blessed hereditary line. Hal replied, “As you have kept the crown by the sword, so will I keep it while my life lasts.

Henry V

In early July 1415 the now reigning King Henry V declared his intention to fight for the throne of France. He claimed it through his lineage to Edward III – his great-grandfather. Edward III’s mother was the daughter of the French king Philip IV. Henry V saw this as his right to France since the French king, Charles VI, was widely known to have bouts of madness and was unable to rule his own country.

England advanced upon France and captured Harfleur, then marched to Calais. He defeated the french at Agincourt with his army outnumbered (6,000 vs. 20,000) and then returned to London where he was acclaimed as King Henry V of England and France by his subjects as he rode through the streets of London.

From 1417 – 1419 there was a second campaign on France and Henry captured Caen and Rouen, capital of Normandy. At this point France had suffered many losses and the remaining leaders were ready to come to an agreement with Henry V.

The Treaty of Troyes in 1420 brought together Catherine of Valois and Henry V. The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement that King Henry V (of England) and his heirs would inherit the throne of France (instead of Charles’ son, the Dauphin) upon the death of King Charles VI of France. It was signed on 21 May 1420 after Henry’s successful military campaign in France. ³

Marriage of Catherine & Henry V
Marriage of Catherine & Henry V

Henry V thought Catherine was a beautiful young woman and it wasn’t long after their marriage that she gave birth to a son – Henry on 6 December 1421 at Windsor. This son, and prince, would soon inherit the throne…as an infant. On 31 August 1422, as Henry V lay dying of dysentery (or cancer, depending on what you read) he appointed his brothers as regents of his domains.

Catherine, now dowager queen was nearly 21 years old upon the death of her husband. Her father, King Charles VI died a few months after her husband which left her son to also inherit the throne of France, per the Treaty of Troyes. Catherine doted on young Henry during his early years.

Since the dowager queen was so young Parliament passed a bill (1427-1428) which set forth the provision that if Catherine remarried without the king’s consent her husband would forfeit his lands and possessions. Any children of said marriage would not suffer punishment. The king’s consent was contingent upon his having attained his majority. At that time, the king was only six years old.

Young Henry would be crowned King of England when he was eight years old – in 1429. Catherine continued to live in her son’s household so she could care for the young king. This was also beneficial to the council because they could keep a watchful eye on the dowager queen.

Henry Vl
Henry VI

Eventually Catherine started a secret relationship with Owen Tudor while living at Leeds Castle.[1] Owen was the keeper of Catherine’s wardrobe. Legend says that Owen caught the Queen’s eye when she saw him swimming, or that he tripped and fell into her lap when dancing.



No documentation has survived of Catherine’s marriage to Owen Tudor.  Owen and Catherine produced at least five children in all. Edmund, Jasper and Owen Tudor were all born away from court. My research has also unearthed that they may have had two daughters (Tacinda & Margaret), however I have been unable to confirm those reports.

Towards the end of the summer of 1436, while pregnant with her fifth child rumours of the Queen’s secret marriage appear to have reached the Duke of Gloucester. Upon further investigation the truth of the matter was revealed and the Duke acted swiftly and decisively. We are told that, ‘the high spirit of the Duke of Gloucester could not brook her marriage. Neither the beauty of Tudor’s person nor his genealogy, descended from Cadwallader Kings, could shield him or the Queen from sharp persecution as soon as the match was discovered.’ The Queen’s household was dissolved with immediate effect. Catherine was parted from her children the eldest of whom were sent to live with Catherine de la Pole, sister of the Earl of Suffolk, Owen was confined to Newgate and Catherine was sent to Bermondsey Abbey.

By this time the heavily pregnant Queen was gravely ill and deeply distressed by this enforced separation from her husband and children. Not long after entering Bermondsey she gave birth to a daughter, christened Margaret, who died shortly after her birth. Overcome by illness and trauma it appears the Queen never recovered. Even the ‘tablet of gold, weighing thirteen ounces on which was a crucifix set with pearls and sapphires’ an elaborate token of remembrance sent to Bermondsey from her son, Henry VI failed to revive her spirits. On 3rd January 1437, Catherine of Valois, Queen of England died a broken woman. – Source of Quote: Britannia 

When Henry VI came of age it is said that he never forgave his uncle, Duke of Gloucester for the harsh treatment his mother had experienced. Henry subsequently knighted his stepfather Owen, made him Warden of Forestries, and appointed him a Deputy Lord Lieutenant.

Mental illness once again crept into this family when Henry VI went into a catatonic state, August 1453, Henry experienced some kind of mental breakdown and became completely unresponsive to everything that was going on around him for more than a year. During this time his queen, Margaret of Anjou gave birth to a son, Prince Edward and Henry failed to respond to his birth.

It seems Henry inherited this condition from his grandfather, Charles VI of France. I’m curious if his son, Edward was also inflicted by this awful hereditary disease. Unfortunately we’ll never know - his life was cut short when he was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury when he was only 17 years old.

Sources/References:

¹ - http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/plantagenet_36.html  (paragraph 2)
² - http://www.britannia.com/history/biographies/catherine_valois.html
³ - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Troyes
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain, by Charles Phillips (pages 82-87)
Kings and Queens of Great Britain, David Soud

 



1387 – Birth of Henry V

Henry V
Henry V

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House: House of Lancaster
Father: Henry IV of England
Mother: Mary de Bohun

Henry V was the 1st husband of Catherine of Valois. He was also the Father of Henry VI, who was half brother to Edmund and Jasper Tudor from Catherine’s second marriage to Owen Tudor.

by Edward Hargrave, after Unknown artist, coloured line engraving, 1842
Catherine of Valois
Henry Vl
Henry Vl