Saturday, January 14, 2012

Discussion on Elizabeth Norton's Elizabeth Talboys claim

Several questions came in about this recent article, so I'm just opening this up to general discussion.

Daily Mail article (that was in last week's news round-up):

and a version from The Sun:


Marilyn R said...

I haven't read the book yet so I don't know what she actually says about the paternity question. What is worrying is the Daily Mail's statement that any child of a royal mistress would have had precedence over a daughter of a woman who had been married to the king, and who had been crowned as his wife and consort. Does Norton claim this or is it how the papers have interpreted it?

Just had another look at the article & can answer my own question,

"Mrs Norton, an author and historian who studied at Cambridge and Oxford universities, said: 'If Henry had acknowledged her, it could have changed the whole course of British history.'"

How exactly? It's a heck of a step from being acknowledged as a king's love child to being his successor, especially for a woman. Look forward to reading it, though.

Laura said...

This second child isn't the only possible illegitimate child of Henry VIII...there are many who have made similar cases for the children of Mary Boleyn.

Henry had the power, as most kings do, to choose whether or not to acknowledge his illegitimate offspring.

While both Mary and Elizabeth had been declared illegitimate by HVIII and parliament, the fact remains that he was, at one point, married to both of their mothers and that they were both his heirs at one point in their lives...and acknowledged as the heir to the throne early in their lives. Even after he had them declared illegitimate, he still publicly acknowledged they were his children...whereas, with the exception of Henry Fitzroy, he never acknowledged any children by his mistresses.

Mary I and Elixabeth I were only able to take and hold the throne because various factions within the government and because the English people knew they were his children, and many had, at one time or another, sworn to acknowledge them as his heirs.

This "other Elizabeth" enjoyed no such status. At no time did Henry or anyone in his government claim the other Elizabeth as his child. She may very well have been his biological child, but because he never married her mother, had no intention of marrying her mother and had other children with more legitimate claims, he had no need to acknowledge this child.

He did not foresee either Mary or Elizabeth coming to the throne, they were both name his heirs as a contingency, to keep the throne in Tudor hands should something happen to his beloved Edward. Even the choice of the Grey sisters to be named heirs after Mary and Elizabeth kept the throne in the hands of legal descendants of Henry VII.

It's interesting to contemplate how many illegitimate children HVIII may have had, but it's taking things too far to imagine any of them had legitimate claims to the throne. Being heir to the throne of England is more complicated than being the son or daughter of the king of England.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tad skeptical on Norton's claims. I haven't heard good things on her older biographies, and the only good thing about them are the images she includes in them. Also, she really seems to push these books out rather quickly. I really don't see how a historian can study the sources and put together a decent biography in such a small amount of time. It takes at least a year for most of the recongnized Tudor historians to complete their books, and it seems like she comes out with a new book at least once a year.

Also, most historians agree that the affair between Henry and Elizabeth Blount ended with Fitzroy's birth in 1519. Blount was married to Tailboys in 1522, by which time Henry VIII had moved on to Mary Boleyn. The dates don't fit. If Elizabeth Blount had been pregnant again after Fitzroy and before her marriage, the child would not have been acknowledge as Tailboys' in the first place. Yet she was, meaning she was most likely born after her parent's marriage.

The Daily Mail, however, needs to correct their article. It is mind boggling how they state that Elizabeth Tailboys should have become queen if she was an illgitmate child. While Mary and Elizabeth were still legally bastards when they both came to the throne, their mother's had been, like Marilyn stated, married to Henry and crowned consorts. If Tailboys was even acknowleged by Henry, although I don't believe she was his bastard in the first place, there were two that still prevented her from becoming queen: Henry's Will and the Third Act of Succession in 1543. Edward, Mary and Elizabeth were the only three lawful heirs to Henry who were his own children as stated by both of those documents. Even if she, or any other of the possible bastards, were acknowledged, she couldn't have been able to succeed to the throne, because she wouldn't have been a potential successor under the law.

Foose said...

I agree that Elizabeth Norton can't be considered a reliable souce, and that any notion of Elizabeth Tailboys taking precedence of Mary and Elizabeth is bizarre, if original.

There are a couple of intriguing points, though, about this "revelation":

If Norton is correct and Elizabeth Tailboys was born in 1520 (a year after Fitzroy, interestingly foreshadowing the rapid birth sequence of the Carey children) and was indeed sired by Henry VIII, it might indicate that Henry (and probably Wolsey) had taken a formal decision not to acknowledge any illegitimate children following Fitzroy. (Perhaps because of perceived public disapproval regarding Fitzroy, the Queen's reaction to Fitzroy, expense considerations, English historical precedent, the child being a girl, etc. - this is all speculative.) If this was the case, then we might see the reason why Henry never subsequently acknowledged the Carey children (assuming they were his offspring, and besides the fact they were fathered on a married woman).

It also might be worth considering whether, if Fitzroy had become king - by statute, by Henry's will, whatever - but died childless, would his full sister and/or her offspring then take precedence over the two half-sisters? Ph.d. historian has discussed on this blog the disposal of the crown, which apparently cannot be treated as simple property, but there might be room for a scenario in which Elizabeth Tailboys could assert a superior claim. I recall Isabel Beauchamp, Warwick Kingmaker's wife, inherited the entirety of her (full) brother's estate, despite the claims of four elder half-sisters, because legal opinions ruled that full-blood relationships had the advantage over half-blood. Again, you have to factor in other variables - would Fitzroy have gotten his sister legitimated? Had he chosen her as his successor? How does she stack up against half-blood relations whose mothers were married (in some form) and crowned, and whose father had formally recognized them? etc. It's all wildly speculative, but gives the brain a workout.

Anonymous said...

Norton's comment doesn't justify the headline. When acknowledged, illegitimate children of kings have changed history, even without inheriting the throne. John of Gaunt, for example, had acknowledged his illegitimate children ... who were later legitimized ... and gave Henry Tudor his claim to the throne. Charles V and Philip II had some of his illegitimate children/siblings serve as regents. While Elizabeth Talboys could not have taken the throne before Elizabeth, she could have changed history (possibly even without knowing it).

kb said...

It's interesting that in my quick readings of the links provided by Lara, there is no indication exactly WHAT evidence Norton has unearthed. It's not that I doubt that it's possible. After all, Sally Varlow uncovered evidence of different birth dates for the children of Katherine Carey and Francis Knollys at the same time that I had found new evidence for a different birth date for Lettice Knollys their daughter. These things happen.

I'd just like to know what facts she's unearthed that back up her assertion.

Then there's the assumptions. There is no way that Bessie Blount's daughter would have entered the line of succession unless, as Foose speculates, Henry Fitzroy became king and the line of succession was altered. There's a lot of leaping into the sea of conclusions in the two articles.

I believe the Carey children were the offspring of Henry VIII. Nevertheless, I do not think that Henry Carey would have ever been king and therefore none of his or his sister Katherine's children would have entered the line of succession through that blood line.