Sunday, January 20, 2008

Question from Lyra - Henry VIII's children all virgins?

Elizabeth was known as the Virgin queen and never married, Edward died in adolescence, and Mary didn't get married until she was 37 and her husband didnt find her very attractive. So my question is, is it possible that all of Henry VIII children were virgins?


Lara said...

I don't think that Mary died a virgin, but I'd say it was a safe bet she was one until her wedding night. I thought there was a comment from Philip about "doing his duty"? I've read that Mary was naive about sexual matters (apparently her ladies would laugh at her lack of knowledge about such things), but I'm guessing that to think she was actually pregnant, she would have known what was involved. :)

As for the other two, I believe that Elizabeth was a virgin, and it's likely Edward was too. Although I have to admit that I don't know a whole lot about Edward's personality to know if he might have had a "learning experience" before his final illness set it.

Thoughts from the rest of you guys?

Foose said...

Henry Fitzroy may or may not have been a virgin -- he was married to Mary Howard, but their youth and his increasing ill health may have prevented consummation. I can't recall if he ever actually cohabited with his wife.

Anonymous said...

Edward seems to have been a priggish young man, very devout, and unlikely to have been fornicating with girls of the court. He was also well-protected. Mary must have consummated her marriage - although she may have been naive, her husband was not and he left England in the belief that she was pregnant.

Anonymous said...

Lara is correct about Mary. She was unquestionably a virgin until she married in 1554. And Philip did indeed "do his duty" for the brief time that he remained in England. Mary was therefore no longer a virgin after 1554.

As for Edward, he was almost certainly a virgin at his death in 1553. There is virtually no evidence to suggest otherwise, and a great deal of circumstantial evidence to suggest that his access to women in private settings was highly restricted. Besides, he was only just coming into puberty when his final illness began in late 1552 (scholars still argue over his illness and its chronology, however). (NB: Medical historians has shown that puberty occurred at a later age in the 16th century, largely because of poor diet.)

On Elizabeth, I must disagree with Lara. I am of the opinion that she did not die a virgin. There is too much circumstantial evidence, in my opinion, that she may have been physically involved with various men throughout her life, not least Robert Dudley. Elizabeth's personality was an exuberant one, and I find it difficult to imagine that she denied herself physical pleasures. And with the rudimentary but often effective methods of contraception already available in the 16th century, there was no reason for her to become pregnant.

Anonymous said...

I know that Edward was definatly clean, and i know elizabeth is a virgin as well, but i have heard a rumor that Elizabeth I extended her progresses to have a child, who was hidden later into the country side, but i beleive Elizabeth died a virgin. I am not sure about Mary. Perhaps, she wasn't a virgin, becuase if her wedding was like any other royal one, there would have been a bedding ceremony after the feast. Hope this helps!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with PhD that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Elizabeth had a physical relationship with Dudley, but I don't believe it went as far as sexual intercourse. With the example of her mother when she was three, her stepmother when she was eight, her beloved stepmother Katherine Parr dying after childbirth, Mary Queen of Scots losing her kingdom for love...I don't think she'd have risked it. And nothing could be kept secret at court. I think we would have much more than circumstantial evidence if they had fully consummated their attraction. However, we will never know.

As to Henry Fitzroy, both his father and his father-in-law believed that the marriage hadn't been consummated. The couple were seventeen when Fitzroy died, and it was considered important for young people to wait before they consummated a mariage, because they believed there were dangers to having sex too early. As puberty came later, there certainly were dangers for young girls. The Duke of Norfolk highlighted his daughter's virginity when he was considering marrying her to Thomas Seymour (she never did re-marry). Henry VIII refused to give Mary Howard the lands and money she was entitled to as his son's widow because an unconsummated marriage was not a true marriage.

However, Fitzroy spent a lot of time in France aged 14/15, with the French princes, who were well-known for going round Paris getting into trouble - it is likely that this included women. Surrey's poetry on Fitzroy also talks about them eyeing up 'dames'.

Anonymous said...

I agree with phd. historian because Elizabeth was a very finicky person who would not have denied herself physical pleaures. However I disagree with who she had her affares with. I personally believe that it was with Thomas Seymour and Sir Walter Raleigh. Maybe I'm wrong, but the circumstancial evidence is there. I mean her stepmother Catherine Parr was very quick to send Elizabeth away after she found her hiusband and Elizabeth alone. What took place there? There are several other reasons that I have, which are to lengthy to list here.

Anonymous said...

Edward was without doubt a virgin, as he was not married no woman were aloud at court at the time. He was a very devout protestant and a very strict with himself – some of his diary still survives, it reveals a lot about the young king.
Mary also very religious - a devout catholic, although very na├»ve did know how to consummate – Anne of Cleves was the one that believed if a man kissed her she would become pregnant but she was bought up in a very different court. Mary was not a virgin, her husband did not find very her attractive this is true but was kind o her on her wedding night and there are written accounts of this too…in books. Elizabeth, I believe she was not a virgin, I too believe she had a child, when she was about 14 and that it was Admiral Seymour’s (her first love? later beheaded) child but miscarried and as a result of this was to scared to marry – for fear of labour pains again? Death? and she must a been put off somewhat by her fathers behaviour. There is an account, that survives of a midwife that was blindfolded, taken in to a rich mans house, to find a young girl in labour, the child was dead, the midwife believed it to have been Elizabeth. And as a result of this, never married nor had relations with another man again.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, that sounds an awful lot like Alison Weir's book "The Lady Elizabeth", which is fiction.

I highly doubt Elizabeth was ever pregnant.. Not only would it have been revealed to Kat Ashley, her governess, but also to Kat's sister and husband whose house they were staying in. Not to mention all the servants.

Elizabeth was reported to have a very small waist, a pregnancy would be almost impossible to conceal. Especially if she was far enough into her pregnancy to go into labor.

I agree with PhD Historian. I highly doubt Elizabeth died a virgin. She was far too attached to Robert Dudley. Plus, she was Queen. Why should she have to sit by and watch everyone else have all the fun?

Anonymous said...

The one thing that should be noted is In the eyes of the people and their beliefs is that virginity is lose once the woman is married. During the consummation processes it would have been a watched affair seeing as they "needed" proof that the marriage was consummated and also to bare witness to the bloodstain sheet. (But I'm not sure if they stopped doing that before Henry VIII in England. But I know they did it in the other European royal marriages) My point being is, if Queen Elizabeth decided never to marry there would be no worry about whether she was truly a virgin or whether things went all the way with Dudley. The only way she would have been outed is if her liaison landed her pregnant.

Contrary to what people believe they were sexually creative back then. Even more so than we are today since we don't have to worry about not getting pregnant if we aren't ready. Queen Elizabeth was too smart and too clever to get pregnant unmarried though too. Remember, just as kids today get scarred by molestation, don't think that didn't have an affect on her as well. AND given what happened to her mother I think she decided a long time ahead that she would be owned by no man and she would always maintain controlled- which she did over Dudley. He was her pet. Anyway that us all. Sorry it is a lot. Just had to get that out there.