Thursday, January 10, 2008

Question from Helena - Henry VIII and his children

Henry VIII sounded like a pretty mean guy. But did he ever beat his children? Or did he not see them often enough to display his bad temper?

7 comments:

PhD Historian said...

This question is similar to those from Leigh a few days ago in that it assumes that modern attitudes and values are the same or similar to those in the sixteenth century. However, parental attitudes and behaviors regarding childrearing change across time. In 2008, a parent beating a child is considered very nearly criminal. When I was a child, such "whippings" were still common. Even public school teachers in the deep south still routinely "paddled" errant children in the 1960s, a huge change from today. In England and throughout much of western Europe in the sixteenth century, the beating of children was still considered by many to be both acceptable and necessary. Advise manuals on raising and disciplining children repeated the adage "spare the rod and spoil the child." Some went so far as to instruct parents in HOW to beat a child. They advised beating below the waist, never above, and using an open hand or thin rod, never a closed fist or thick stick lest they do permanent damage or even "murder" the child. See Barthelemy Batt, "The Christian mans closet wherein is conteined [sic] a large discourse of the godly training up of children" (London, 1581) and Robert Cleaver, "A godlie forme of householde government for the ordering of private families" (London, 1598). Even religious leaders like John Calvin and Henry Bullinger positively advocated corporal punishment of children as a means to instill godliness and right behavior. Thus, had Henry VIII himself beaten any of his children, he would not have been thought "mean" or "bad tempered" for doing so. Instead, those around him would have applauded him for attempting to bring up his children "correctly" ... by sixteenth-century standards. The reality, however, is that Henry was not directly involved in the raising of Edward and Elizabeth. They were both raised in separate households, and IF they were beaten, such correction was carried out by nannies and governesses, not the king himself. Mary was raised closer to the king's own household, but I am not aware of any authentic record testyfing as to whether or not she (or any other royal child, for that matter) was ever beaten. We simply have no evidence either direction.

Alysia said...

I seem to remember something about Royal Children having Whipping boys or something to that effect. A close personal friend who would get the whip if you misbehaved, making it worse because a) they where your friend and b) they got whipped because of you. I forget where I read this, however http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/aboutEdward.htm this link confirms it :)

Caz said...

No, Henry VII never beat his children. When they were in favour, he treated them lovingly and paraded them in front of the Royal Court. He called Mary the Pearl of his world before The Great Divorce.

He may as well have though, the royal princesses remained pretty much forgotten, expecially when Edward was born. Edward always remained in favour, as he was the boy Henry always wanted.

Foose said...

The treatment seems to have been variable, depending on politics. He certainly ensured that all of them were well-educated.

Henry Fitzroy seemed to have been loved by his parent, but when he died he was buried rather cheaply by the Duke of Norfolk. (Admittedly, Henry was angry when he found out, but the Duke probably took his cue from Henry's attitude and decided to make the burial as discreet and devoid of pomp as possible.) He seemed fond of Mary in her earlier years, but he browbeat her a great deal as a teenager during the divorce controversy and even afterwards. Status was very important to Renaissance royalty, so I would think the diminishment of her household and removal of other visible symbols of her rank, as well as separation from her mother, hurt nearly as much as any physical violence. "The King is very fond of Madame Isabeau," said Chapuys, but Henry apparently did not notice that Elizabeth needed new clothes after Anne's execution (admittedly, this was usually a queen's job). Edward seems to have been the favorite, being the only son.

Elizabeth said...

I think (this is just my opinion) that he did not beat Mary or Elizabeth since they were often away. But since Edward being so close to his father may have been in the middle of his horrible temper.

Anonymous said...

Henry could still be brutal and harsh to his children. In 1546 he banished Elizabeth from his presence for a whole year for an unknown offence. It took a great deal of intercession from Catherine Parr to persuade Henry to pardon her.

And let's not forget Henry's treatment of Mary over 'The King's Great Matter'. He even made moves to have Mary tried and executed for treason because she would not acknowledge The Act of Succession.

Anonymous said...

Alison Weir said that Edward VI's tutor beat him on occasion, though by the standards of his time he used the rod less frequently.

Henry was extremely harsh with Mary when she refused to sign documents conceding to his will over "the King's Great Matter". He put up the Duke of Norfolk to break her will. He abused her verbally and emotionally (though not physically, by the sound of it), saying that if she was his own daughter he would kill her and beat her until her head was as soft as a baked apple, and he would be more than justified. But as far as Henry was concerned, the Duke did not go far enough and was angry with him for going about it "too gently". This was probably because the Duke failed to get the desired results. Henry's next move was to have Mary executed. She was saved by the squeamishness of the judges, who persuaded Henry to have them draw up a paper for her to sign. If she didn't, they would make moves to have Mary executed as Henry demanded. Mary did sign, but never forgave herself. But imagine if she hadn't signed - a father beheading his own daughter?!?