Sunday, January 20, 2008

Question from Elizabeth - Questions on Henry VIII's personal life

1. Is there any approximate number of how many illegitimate children Henry VIII had?
2. Was there even time for Henry VIII to take a mistress when he was married to Anne of Cleves? Since they were only married about six months.
3. Was Catherine Parr ever Henry's mistress or considered to be? Or were they just married shortly after Catherine Howard's execution?

6 comments:

Foose said...

I think some historians (Antonia Fraser comes to mind) have suspected that Katherine Howard was perhaps Henry's mistress during the Anne of Cleves' episode -- she was Anne's maid of honor, conveniently situated, and that tends to fit Henry's M.O. I've always been interested in who Henry was seeing during the relatively long gap between Jane Seymour's death and his marriage to Anne of Cleves. It was nearly two years, and it seems odd that Henry didn't establish a mistress. Maybe he just needed some time off.

monica said...

2) There were rumours that Katherine Howard was pregnant some weeks before the annulment of his mariage to Anne of Cleves, and Henry was regularly seen visiting her after midnight.

3) There is no suggestion that Katherine Parr was Henry's mistress before they married. There was nearly eighteen months between Howard's execution and the wedding to Parr. She was also not a lady-in-waiting at court, just an occasional visitor so would have come into very little contact with Henry, if any, until a year later when she became lady-in-waiting to his daughter Mary.

Foose - There were rumours of other women between Jane Seymour's death and his marriage to Anne of Cleves, but little detail. He was rumoured in 1538 to be torn between marrying 'Mary Shelton and Mary Skipwith'. Both were women he was regularly in contact with at court and may have been his mistresses. Mary (or her sister Madge) had been his mistress in 1535, according to Chapuys. There were probably others. There were also rumours about the lavish presents he was giving to Anne Bassett.

1) How many illegitimate children did Henry have? Perhaps we should take his word on this - one, Henry Fitzroy. Henry and Catherine Carey may well have been his, as he had a motive for not declaring them after marrying their aunt. And he was definitely involved with Mary Boleyn around the time they were born, although the dates of their relationship aren't completely clear. There are other rumours, mainly based on the person looking like him, that can be seen on the internet, but you're unlikely to find mentioned in a book, because they don't deserve to be mentioned. There is nothing to link him to any of these people's mothers. These include Thomas Stucley, John Perrot, Ethelreda Malte and Richard Edwardes. If you look at these, they are nearly all started by the individual's families, often centuries later - people want to think they are descended from Henry VIII. That's not to say he didn't get someone else pregnant, just that we have no evidence for it.

Anonymous said...

I have read about Katherine Parr, and the way that she and King Henry met was becuase she was Edward's tutor when the royal family were tucked in the countryside to protect themselves from the plauge

monica said...

Anonymous, Katherine Parr was never Edward VI's tutor. If you have a source, please correct me, but this sin't in James' or Martienssen's biographies of Katherine nor any other book I've read on her.

Anonymous said...

Many people believe that Katherine Howard was Henry's mistress when he was married to Anne of Cleves seing as it is assumed they did not consumate the marriage ( Henry and Anne)also people believe that Henry had no mistress' until Katherine Howard( during the time he was married to Anne) from when Jane Seymour died.

Eva Maria said...

I think Anonymous is referring to "The Autobiography of Henry VIII" by Margaret George, in which Parr accompanies the royal party into the country to avoid the Sweat and Henry VIII develops an affection for her. It is a wonderful story in general and does contain many factual anecdotes but is not to be considered non-fiction.