Thursday, June 09, 2011

Question from Em - Blount and Boleyn rivalry

Since Mary Boleyn became Henry VIII's mistress after Bessie Blount was discarded, was there ever a rivalry between the two women? What were Bessie's feelings towards Mary?


Guy said...

I've read 'Bastard Prince' and 'The Mistresses of Henry VIII' and neither anser this. We simply don't know what their feelings were, about each other or the King.

Cate Drewry said...

Most sources seem to agree that Henry's liaison with Bessie Blount ended with the birth of Henry Fitzroy in June 1519. Prior to that she was already away from court for her pregnancy and confinement.

There seems to be some disagreement about exactly when Mary Bokeyn returned to England from France (some sources claim she returned with Mary Tudor in 1515, some that she returned as late as 1519), but most of the sources I have read state that her affair with Henry did not begin until sometime between 1519-1520.

As stated above, we will probably never know, but it seems likely to me that the two probably had very little to do with, or knowledge of, one another. Henry seemed to have a sort of "one at a time" attitude about affairs, and it seems likely to me that following the end of his affair with Bessie, he found himself at loose ends and then noticed Mary.

Anonymous said...

I think that there must have been some rivalry. Blount was most likely to be jealous, though she probably knew that her relashinship with Henry had ended. Blount had no chance against Boleyn. Mary was younger and like a new experiment to Henry. I don't know, however, if there was any real rivalry. Bessie could have just been jealous.

kb said...

This is all speculative.

Mary Boleyn was married to William Carey on 4 Feb 1520. Henry Fitzroy was born in June of 1519. Bessie Blount would have been sexually off limits for about 60 days before the birth to about 40 days after the birth. This gives ample time for the king to fall for Mary Boleyn, and for her marriage to Carey to cover any possible pregnancies.

According to the ODNB, Mary secured a place in Queen Katherine's household. It is quite possible that she met Bessie Blount. I doubt the Boleyn's would have pushed Mary's candidacy as mistress if they felt the king's affections were still engaged to Blount. They weren't that naive.

The Boleyn-Carey children were born in 1524 and 1526. It seems to me that as Fitzroy was created earl of Nottingham, duke of Richmond, etc in June of 1525 - in between the Carey births - that Bessie would have been quite content with the situation, possibly even confident that perhaps the king would return to her at some point as her son now held preeminence in the peerage.

Mary Boleyn's first child was a girl. So Bessie still held the trump card of a royal son at the time of his elevation to the peerage. By the time Mary was pregnant with her second child, Henry born in 1526, Anne had already come to the King's attention. After that, as far as we can tell, there was no rivalry for the king's affections as they were monopolized by Anne.