Moonday’s Heroic Hunks: Elizabeth’s Men – the European Princes

King Philip II of Spain

Prior to her accession to the throne of England, Elizabeth Tudor had lived a precarious existence.  Her mother, Queen Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded when Elizabeth was only three.  Henry VIII, her father, had divorced two of his other queens and beheaded Queen Katherine Howard, Elizabeth’s own cousin.  She had been implicated in Thomas Seymour’s attempts to seize power which ended in his execution and waT sent to the Tower by her sister Queen Mary for her association with the Dudley/Lady Jane Grey treason.

Before and after Queen Elizabeth refused Robert Dudley’s (the love of her life) marriage proposal, she used her availability for marriage as a political tool.  Everyone-English and European alike-assumed that Elizabeth would be anxious to marry.  Elizabeth, however, once wrote: “Better beggar woman and single than Queen and married.” While Elizabeth’s councilors plotted and fretted, only Robert Dudley who knew her heart believed her.  He knew she would never willingly grant power over her and control of her England to any man.

King Eric of Sweden

In 1559, King Philip of Spain, the widower of Elizabeth’s sister Mary, was the first to send a proposal her way.  He wished to keep England Catholic and Elizabeth out of bed with the Protestant rulers of Europe.  Elizabeth strung him along, first hot and then cold, for more than a year–to the frustration and aggravation of two Spanish ambassadors.  Their communications to their Spanish master provide insight into the complicated machinations of the English Court.

Another of Elizabeth’s suitors, King Eric of Sweden, a fellow Protestant, was seriously considered by Elizabeth’s ministers. His suit was popular in the England but Eric was far from a wealthy monarch, and marriage to him would have brought England little financial benefit or provided a strong alliance.  Despite his fervent letters attesting to his devotion, Eric was eventually refused also.  Good thing, King Eric was deposed in 1568 and poisoned with arsenic-laced pea soup in 1577.

Henry II of France

When the Archduke Charles of Austria proved to be too Catholic for her., Elizabeth looked to the Valois of France, still Catholic but not so much.  Henry, Duke of Anjou, and Francis, Duke of Alencon and (later) Anjou, were the sons of Catherine d’Medici.  Henry who was reputed to be homo- or bisexual was rejected after his comments referring to her as a “public whore” and ridiculing her age (37) were reported Elizabeth.  Elizabeth appeared to genuinely have some affection for Francis, her “frog,”  even though he was 24 and she was 46 when he visited her. (She actually wore an earring in the shape of a frog for several years.”)  Elizabeth, fearing her people would not accept a French overlord, sent him on his way.  Anjou, the last of Elizabeth’s suitors died two years later.

Francis, Duke of Alencon

 Several other foreign suitors, including the Duke of Saxony, Earl of Arran, and the Duke of Holstein were proposed but not seriously considered.  Next Moonday, Elizabeth’s English suitors and the succession.  Rita Bay

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry Tudor & Katherine Parr

     This Moonday, we meet Katherine Parr and bid our Heroic Hunk for the last month, King Henry VIII (Tudor), farewell.  Henry changed his kingdom profoundly.  During Henry’s reign, England reduced the power of the clergy, closed the Catholic religious institutions, and became a predominantly Protestant nation.  In his quest for male heirs, he set something of a record with his six marriages.  His first marriage ended in divorce, his fourth marriage ended in annulment, two wives (#s 2 and 5 who happened to be first cousins) were executed by decapitation for treason, his third wife actually gave him the son and heir that he craved but died of childbed fever. 

Catherine Parr

    Katherine Parr was Henry’s sixth and final wife.  Ironically, Henry’s last wife who was born in 1512 was named after his first.  Katherine’s mother served as lady in waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon.  When her husband died, Lady Maud returned home and ran her estates and raised her three children.  The education she provided for them far exceeded that of the time.  Katherine was fluent in three modern languages and Latin.  She served competently as Regent of England when Henry was on his last overseas campaign.  In later life, she was the author of two books on religion. 

     Just as Henry was the most-frequently married English King, Katherine who married four times was the most-frequently married English Queen. Katherine married Edward Borough in 1529 when she was 17 years old. He died a few years later in 1533. In 1534 she married John Neville, third Baron Latimer, when he was 41 and she was 22.  He died in 1543 and she went to Court.

     Katherine fell in love with Thomas Seymour, the brother of Queen Jane and uncle of Edward, Henry’s heir.  Unfortunately, she had caught Henry’s eye also.  He proposed and she felt compelled to accept.  They were married in July of 1543.  She was close to all of her stepchildren.  She was instrumental in reuniting the Princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, with their father.   She also oversaw the education of Elizabeth and Edward. 

Henry in Later Life

     Like Henry’s previous wives, she had trouble with the Court.  Her ardent Protestantism was feared by the more moderate, especially because of her influence with the King.  Some went so far as to torture outspoken Protestant activist Agnes Askew, seeking info to use against Katherine.  While they didn’t get the info they wanted, they were able to obtain an arrest warrant based on finding banned books in her apartment.  Fortunately, one of the accusers dropped the warrant on the floor.  One of Katherine’s courtiers saw it and reported to her.  She took to her bed sick until Henry visited and she convinced him that her interest was only to entertain him with the info. 

     By the time of their marriage, Henry’s health had deteriorated significantly.  While his early armor was designed for a man with a 34-36 inch waist who weighed about 180-200 lbs, his later armor had a waist measurement of 58-60 inches for a manwho weighed 300-320 pounds.  His leg abscesses reported last week had spread to both legs and feet. Towards the end of his life, his toes became gangrenous.  He also suffered numerous strokes indicating possible circulatory problems and high blood pressure.  During his last weeks, the stench of his sickroom he was confined to was overpowering. Unfortunately, it was illegal to discuss the King’s death.  It was days before Archbishop Thomas Cranmer summoned the courage to tell the King he was dying.  He died on January 27th, 1547.  Prior to his burial at Windsor, though, the guards answered a disturbance where his coffin lay awaiting burial.  The coffin had burst open and dogs were licking his body as one of his victims had predicted.  He was interred in St. George’s Chapel beside Queen Jane Seymour.  Their child Edward succeeded Henry and the Seymour family with the now Duke of Somerset in charge ruled as regents until their fall years later.

     Within six months, Katherine married her former lover Thomas Seymour, Lord Sudley.  The teenaged Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey lived with them.  Thomas, however, was thought to have too great an interest in Elizabeth and she was moved from one of the few places where she’d had a real home life.  She never saw Katherine, who was pregnant for the first time, again.  They corresponded regularly but when Katherine delivered her daughter, she died (September 5th, 1548) within days of childbed fever.  Her husband was executed for treason within the year.  Elizabeth, when she ruled as queen, may have taken the talented and capable Katherine as her model.  Next week, we zoom through Edward & Mary with a look at a few bizarre paintings by one of King Phillip’s favorites.  Then on to Elizabeth Tudor, my favorite historical figure in one of history’s most intriguing periods AND HER MEN—those gorgeous Elizabethans.  ‘Til Moonday, Rita Bay

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry & Katherine Howard

     Moonday’s Heroic Hunk was to have been short this week. I’m doing NaNoWriMo and am unfortunately behind (read that WAY behind). Also, this is another of Henry VIII’s very short marriages but I got too involved with the story. Henry was almost fifty when, in July of 1540, he annulled his marriage to Anne of Cleves and married Katherine Howard who was twenty or so. Their marriage lasted less than two years and ended with the beheading for treason (read that adultery against the king) of a silly young girl.

Katherine Howard

      Katherine Howard, the daughter of a poor younger son of the Duke of Norfolk, had been sent to live with the Dowager Duchess as her ward. The Duchess, however, was often busy at court and provided little supervision for her wards. Consequently, Catherine was neither intelligent nor well-educated like her first cousin Anne Boleyn and she did not possess the skills or maturity to make her way at court.
     Catherine apparently had two affairs in her very early youth while with the Duchess. Her first affair was actually a dalliance with Henry Manox , her music teacher. Her relationship with Frances Dereham was far more serious—they called each other “husband” and “wife.” Their actions may have constituted a precontract of marriage which should have prevented Catherine’s marrying King Henry.
      The fall of this particular bride was especially poignant. When the Duchess discovered Katherine’s misbehavior, she removed her from her household and sent her to Court as a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves. The downfall of her first cousin, Anne Boleyn (Queen #2), had placed the Howard family out of favor.   They didn’t care who they threw into Henry’s path to regain favor and restore the Catholic faith—and Katherine had caught the King’s eye. As the King’s courtship of Katherine progressed, so did their influence.

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk

  Katherine’s motto “No other wish but his” was ill-chosen. On her arrival at Court, she and the handsome and popular Thomas Culpepper had hooked up briefly. After Katherine married the King, Lady Rochford (the widow of George Boleyn, Anne’s brother who was unjustly accused of and executed for incest with Anne) assisted the couple with their assignations. (Rita’s Note: One wonders at her motivation.)
      Imagine young Katherine’s predicament. Henry, still convinced of his appeal to women, weighed in at about 300 pounds. While married to Anne, he had fallen during a joust and injured his leg. Ten+ years later the festering wound had ulcerated and the foul-smelling discharge had to be drained every day. Katherine not only had to submit to Henry’s frequent efforts to secure an heir but her fertility was monitored by the whole Court. It is not surprising that she turned to Culpepper.
      Unfortunately, her past caught up with her. In addition to folks from her past who knew about her indiscretions, both Manox and Dereham appeared at Court and demanded and were given positions in her household. By November of 1541, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, presented Henry with evidence of her adultery. A substantial part of the evidence against her was obtained by torturing Culpepper and Dereham. In December, both men were executed for treason (Culpepper by beheading and Dereham was hung, drawn, and quartered) and their heads were placed atop London Bridge.

 Poor Katherine’s family had deserted her, Cranmer was after her head, and the King had spurned her. In January, Parliament passed the bill of attainder against her and by February she was imprisoned in the Tower. The hours before her execution on February 13th were spent practicing placing her head on the block.
     She required assistance to climb the scaffold. Facing execution, she asked for mercy for her family and prayers for herself. The executioner took her head with one stroke of the axe and she was buried in the same chapel as her Cousin Anne. A plaque commemorates her death. She never confessed to infidelity.
      Two stories are connected with her death. Her last words were reported to be: “I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper.” The other relates to her ghost wandering in Hampton Court to the Chapel where she tried unsuccessfully to reach Henry who was in the Chapel. On a personal note, when I visited Hampton Court the area outside the Chapel was icy cold. It was May. Next week, we bid Henry VIII goodbye. ‘Til Moonday, Rita Bay

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry VIII & Anne of Cleves

     This Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History will be short. Partly because it’s about the marriage of Henry VIII Tudor and his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, which was very brief and also because NaNoWriMo starts today and I’m in. At least, I’m in if I can sign up. Apparently, the site has crashed but is under repair, so there’s still hope.

Anne of Cleves

     If you’re a writer who needs motivation, you might want to consider NaNoWriMo. You commit to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s been around since 1999 and is loads of fun with local and national support. I finished last year and got stickers and smiley faces. I am proud to say my sister Sizzler, sfcatty, however, got her NaNoWriMo book published AND finished hers a week before the deadline of Nov 30th. I could gripe but won’t because you can’t expect editors to be clairvoyant and I never submitted it to a publisher. Dare I chance rejection? This year, I will do better—that is, if I finish.
     Getting back to Henry and Anne. Henry had divorced his first wife (Katherine of Aragon), beheaded his second (Anne Boleyn), and his third wife (Jane Seymour) had died after giving him his son Edward in 1537. By 1539, Henry was approaching 50 years old and desired another wife, one which would bring him valuable political connections. Thomas Cromwell pushed the Protestant Germanic alliance with the Duke of Cleves (actually Julich-Cleves-Berg but that’s too much of a mouthful). The Duke’s first sister had married the Elector of Saxony which left Anne.
     Henry who was very conscious of his prospective bride-to-be’s appearance sent court painter Hans Holbein to paint Anne’s portrait (There was an Elder and Younger Hans, but we’re talking the Younger who came to England recommended by Erasmus.) . He painted her personality into the portrait and was much too generous with her physical appearance. When Henry met his bride who was in her early twenties, he was extremely disappointed with her and let everyone know it.
     Henry married Anne anyway but their marriage was never consummated. Henry told Cromwell that “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse.” Anne who was very pleasant but not well-educated and certainly ignorant of marital matters thought that everything was OK. When told that it was not, she considered how he had treated her predecessors and graciously accepted the annulment on the grounds of non-consummation and a previous contract . Henry, who thought he was still a hunk even though fat and bloated with a festering leg ulcer, was surprised by her acquiescence and treated her well. She received lands and was treated as the “King’s Beloved Sister.” Their marriage had lasted only six months and Henry’s eye had turned to Anne’s (Shall we say it together?) lady-in-waiting who was 18-years-old and the first cousin of one of his previous wives.
     Anne became friends with the King and made a respected place for herself at Court. She enjoyed managing her properties (including Hever Castle-Anne Boleyn’s family home and Richmond Palace.) and got along well with the royal princesses. She survived Henry and his other wives. She died in July, 1557 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Next week, Henry and Catherine Howard. Rita Bay

Badurday- June 26, 2010- The Tudors Edition

In honor of the end of The Tudors series, I have chosen our Bad-urday boy this week to be Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  Now, I actually chose him a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Bend it like Beckham where he plays Joe, the girls’ soccer coach but he got bumped first by Billy Burke and then by Frank Sinatra when I was in New York.  But it worked out all right as here we are with the end of the series and we have our King Henry VIII.  AND it is World Cup month and he was in a soccer movie, so it worked out there, too.  Our bad boy also played the assassin of Michael Collins in the film of the same name with Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman. Love that movie.  He was in August Rush, which is a cool little movie.  He wasn’t a bad boy in it but he was sexy as hell. Have not seen Loss of Sexual Innocence which he is in- may have to rent that one.  And for the breeches crowd, he was in Vanity Fair as well.

Henry VIII was the baddest boy ever.  In real life, he was an ogre but he was very handsome in his early years. 

Here are some more great shots: Remember the old song by Eartha Kitt “C’mon a my house?”  C’mon, man, c’mon!

%d bloggers like this: