Thursday, April 02, 2009

Question from Colleen - When was Elizabeth restored to the title of Princess

I was wondering if someone could tell me when exactly Elizabeth was restored to the title of Princess. I know when she lost the title, but I've read quite a few books on the Tudor family and a lot of the information is conflicted - some authors begin referring to her as Princess Elizabeth immediately after her father's marriage to Katherine Parr; others call her the Lady Elizabeth up until her accession to the throne. Does anybody have a clear answer?


PhD Historian said...

The Third Act for the Succession (1544) restored Mary and Elizabeth as successors to their father if Edward died without issue. The act did not restore either woman's birth legitimacy, however. Both remained legally bastards. Therefore neither woman was ever legally restored to the style and title "Princess." Both continued to be properly referred to as simply "Lady," though supporters of each often did sometimes call them "Princess" as an act of subversivion.

Colleen said...

Now THAT makes sense! I guess I should have taken into account the tone of the author toward each respective "Princess". Thanks for clearing that up for me!

PhD Historian said...

Oops ... I misspelled "subversion." But "defiance" is a much better word to describe it anyway.

Foose said...

Interestingly, Henry's sister Mary "Rose" is quite frequently referred to as simply "Lady Mary" and not "Princess Mary" in Letters & Papers during the discussion of her prospective marriages to "the Prince of Castile" and Louis XII. Mary Tudor, Henry's daughter, seems to be consistently referred to as "Princess Mary" (until the divorce and her bastardization).

I would hazard that in her case, "Princess" reflects a general perception that, unlike her aunt, she was her father's heir and effectively "Princess of Wales" -- although she never officially held the title -- and that if she had had a (full) brother, her title might have been simply "Lady Mary" also; similarly, if she had had younger (full) sisters, she would have still been called "Princess" but the younger sisters would have been simply "Lady so-and-so."

The struggle over the title of "Princess" was intense because the title seems to have signified "heir presumptive" rather than what we might think of as "princess" -- i.e., today all the daughters of a monarch get the title. Even the present Queen's granddaughters by her younger sons are commonly called (if not legally) "princesses," although fairly far from being heirs presumptive.

Hence Chapuys' insistence on always calling Mary "Princess" - signifying that she was the legitimate heir to the throne ("Princess of Wales"), not just that she was the legitimate daughter of Henry.