Monday, March 24, 2008
Question from Ashley - Variety of questions
I was wondering. Would things have been dramatically different if Henry VIII had had a bastard half-brother? If Henry VII had been unfaithful to Elizabeth of York and that dalliance resulted in a child, would the succesion have been altered to cut out Mary and Elizabeth? I know it was altered in the case of William the Conqueror who unseated Matilda. Plus, what did Mary Boleyn die of? It seems like she dies awfully young even for that period. What happened to the Boleyn's titles when Thomas Boleyn died? For Mary had her son, Henry Carey so there was a male to inherit, but knowing Henry he probably was spiteful enough to keep them.
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William the Conqueror didn't unseat Matilda. That was Steven, the nephew of Henry I..and Matilda's father. Steven and Matilda were cousins. However, it all came back around to Matilda's family...her son became Henry II
I don't know what Mary Boleyn died from, although as you point out she was on the younger side - probably around 44. Her large possessions, as coheir to her father, Thomas Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, devolved upon her only son, Henry Carey, who also inherited from his father considerable estates in the counties of Wilts, Hants, and Bucks counties. I don't know about the titles but that information should be in the Complete Peerage.
It had been 450 years since William the Conqueror and I think it would have been very difficult for a bastard to inherit the throne in the 16th century. There were rumours that men such as Edward Neville and Charles Brandon were Henry’s bastard brothers, but this is based wholly on their resemblance to Henry. I have never read of a hint that Henry VII was unfaithful to his wife. What may have happened is that they would have married Mary or Elizabeth, if they were both free to do so. The Pope suggested that Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond, married Mary, and they would rule together. Louis XIV married his double first cousin (all the same grandparents) and the Catholic Church not only allowed this, they legitimised his bastards, who were then put into the line of succession, after his legitimate children.
I’ve never read any reports of what Mary Boleyn died of. She died in 1543, aged around forty-four. Life expectancy was around thirty, so she was actually quite old by sixteenth-century standards. Thomas Boleyn’s earldom of Wiltshire could only descend through the male line; his only son died childless, so it reverted to the crown. The earldom of Ormonde should have gone to Henry Carey, who was around twelve when his grandfather died, but was kept by the crown, and not offered to him until on his deathbed, by his cousin Elizabeth I.
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