Princess Mary Tudor was the younger sister of King Henry VIII. She was said to be the King’s favorite sister. Henry arranged for Mary to wed the King of France – as always, a political alliance for England. To have France as an ally instead of an enemy was definitely a benefit to the country after years of fighting.
This letter is written by a Venetian merchant in England who wrote this letter to his brothers including this one about Princess Mary’s departure from England to France where she became Queen.
Description of Departure of the King’s Sister
Lorenzo Pasqualigo to his Brothers
[Venetian Calendar, Vol. II]
London, September 23, 1514
…Entertainment, banquets, and jousts are being held for the departure of the Queen, who left for Dover four days ago, accompanied by four of the chief lords of England, namely, the Treasurer, the Lord Chamberlain, the Chancellor and Lord Stanley [Edward Stanley, Lord Mounteagle], besides 400 knights and barons, and 200 gentlemen and other squires, with their horses. The lords, knights, and barons were all accompanied by their wives, attended by their damsels. There would be about 1,000 palfreys, and 100 women’s carriages. There are so many gowns of woven gold and with gold grounds, housings for the palfreys and horses of the same materials, and chains and jewels, that they are worth a vast amount of treasure; and some of the noblemen in this company, to do themselves honour, had spent as much as 200,000 crowns each. Many of the merchants purposed going to Dover to see this fine sight, and about a week ago all the merchants of every nation went to the court. The Queen [of France] desired to see them all, and gave her hand to each of them. She wore a gown in the French fashion, of wove gold, very costly. She is very beautiful, and has not her match in all England, is a young women of 16 years old, tall, fair, and of a light complexion, with a colour, and most affable and graceful. On her neck was a jewelled diamond, as large and as broad as a full-sized finger, with a pear-shaped pearl beneath it, the size of a pigeon’s egg, which jewel had been sent her as a present by the King of France, and the jewellers of “the Row,” whom the King desired to value it, estimated its worth at 60,000 crowns. It was marvellous that the existence of this diamond and pearl should never been known; it was believed they had belonged to the late King of France, or to the Duke of Brittany, the father of the late Queen.
According to the report of the courtiers, the Queen was to cross over to Boulogne, and the King of France would come as far as Abbeville, it was said, to meet her, and there consummate his marriage with this “nymph from heaven,” her beauty and affability warranting the expression. On bidding farewell to the merchants, she made them all many offers, speaking a few words in French, and delighting everybody. The whole court now speaks both French and English, as in the time of the late King…
Mary was in the care of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk on her trip and on the 2nd of October they launched for France. Her voyage was not without problems, a very strong wind pick up merely an hour after they launched. This scattered all the ships in their fleet in several directions. One of the ships called, ‘The Great Elizabeth‘ succumbed to the weather and sunk with a loss of 400 men. Mary’s own ship ran ashore near the entrance to Boulogne harbor – Sir Christopher Garneys, an ambassador to King Louis XII ran through the breakers and carried the soaked and frightened Mary to safety.
Her marriage to King Louis did not last long. After his death, less than a year after being married, Mary secretly married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.
Mumby, Frank Arthur; The Youth of Henry VIII in Contemporary Letters