Monday, May 19, 2014

Question from Collin - Henry Fitzroy and royal bastards

I am working on a paper for school and I have to argue why Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of King Henry VIII, should have been king. There is not a lot written about him. Any suggestions?

Are there are instances when bastards became king?

Thanks for your help.


[Previous related thread linked below. - Lara]


Foose said...

In response to your question about bastards who became kings, I still think Ferdinand of Naples (mentioned in the thread Lara posted) is probably the best example, in that his father decided Ferdinand would be his heir, the succession took place, and the bastard king had a long and fairly successful reign. This would have been the model Henry would have hoped to follow if he decided on Fitzroy as his heir. Ferdinand had certain advantages, though - no legitimate siblings for a start, and the fact that Naples was his father's conquest. I don't think Alfonso attempted to impose his son on his native kingdom of Aragon, where his brother John succeeded.

The other examples tend to involve rebellion against a legitimate heir (Joao of Aviz, Henry of Trastamara) or foreign military intervention (Alessandro de Medici in Florence).

Adding to that list: Two bastard sons of the Emperor Frederick II became king - Manfred in Sicily and Enzo in Sardinia, but their father did not designate them as such; their respective elevations came about through political maneuvering and foreign intervention after his death.

In Cyprus, the illegitimate James managed to depose his sister Queen Charlotte, but again his succession was not planned by his father.

Pedro the Cruel nominated his bastard daughter Constance as his heir in Castile, and I think her husband John of Gaunt claimed the throne in her name, but she never actually reigned.

Henry IV of France planned to legitimate his bastards by Gabrielle d'Estrees by marrying her, whereupon they would become his heirs; but the pope's intransigence and Gabrielle's death put an end to this plan. Louis XIV's will proposed that his bastard sons by Madame de Montespan succeed in the event of his great-grandson's death, but organized aristocratic outrage was able to prevent this.

In Poland, the childless Sigismund II Augustus refused to sleep with his third wife; his councillors beseeched him on their knees to divorce her and marry any of the mothers of his bastards, so there might be some sort of heir to the throne and anarchy thereby avoided. The king refused.

In England, William the Conqueror is perhaps the supreme example of a bastard who became king; the kingdom was achieved by conquest, though, although he was allegedly nominated as heir by his cousin Edward the Confessor. He did succeed to the duchy of Normandy as the bastard heir of his father, though.

Charles II's natural son James Duke of Monmouth attempted to claim the throne after his father's death - but not as a bastard; he encouraged the popular rumor of his mother's secret marriage to the king.

Finally, without getting into who's right and who's wrong, an argument could be made by the Ricardians that Edward IV organized the succession of his bastard as Edward V - if Richard III's allegations that the Woodville marriage was invalid are true, and that Edward knew it all along.

Kate said...

While they were queens and not kings ,and while the validity or their legitimacy could be argued both Mary and Elizabeth were bastardized during their lifetimes. Mary because Henry claimed that marraige to Catherine Of Aragon was not legal or sactioned because she had previously, albiet shortly been married to his elder brother Arthur. Elizabeth was conceived out of wedlock and born in wedlock but it has been argued that Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon (he basically decreed his own divorce)at the time of his maraige to Anne Boelyn making him a bigamst.They both attained the throne. Henry Fitzroy was acknowledged and raised to the nobility as the Duke of Richmond, Henrys ancestrial seat and was being primed for the throne, just in case because a bastard son was better than a daughter legitimate or not. Also one of the Stuart kings Charles II son came pretty close but the throne went to Charles brother insted but the son had quite a bit of support as James II was catholic. Hope that helped a little

kb said...

If you are supposed to write a paper about why Henry Fitzroy should have become king, there are a couple things to consider.

Remember in the first instance that he died before before his father Henry VIII so the whole thing is a moot point.

HOWEVER, in Henry's eyes a boy as heir to the throne was infinitely preferable to a girl. His father Henry VII came to the throne through conquest and by establishing himself as a legitimate male heir to the house of Lancaster. This ended years of intermittent civil war. It is believed that he drilled into his children that having a son was the road to stability and the way to avoid civil war.

Pretending to be inside Henry VIII's head, a dangerous and tricky thing to do, and presuming that your dad insisted that the only way to have a secure kingdom was to have a male heir who would prevent civil war and who could ride out with an army, a thing presumed unnatural for a female although many queens did this, you can imagine how it might have been Henry VIII's wish to have a boy be his heir. Remember also that his legitimate son, Edward was not yet born when Henry Fitzroy died.