Saturday, May 09, 2009

Question from Cathi - Henry VIII letting Mary wed when younger

Why didn't Henry VIII let Mary marry when she was younger?

He knew Edward would be his only sons, and Mary would be next in line. Hence, she would need to keep the Tudor line going?


Elizabeth M. said...

I think part of the reason was that henry did not want England becoming a "satellite" to the husband's family of Mary, and then to be absorbed as part of that country's dominions. For example, when she eventually married Philip of Spain, Mary assumed all Philip's titles as his consort. He was, among other things, King of Spain, King of Naples. She became Queen of Spain, etc. Had she lived and they remained married and had a living son, that son would eventually been not only King of England, but would have inherited all his father's dominions, as well. And England was a small country--the theoretical king born of Mary and Philip would have had to spend more time worrying about the lands of his father's family than that of a small, isolated island nation.
I think Henry also wanted to keep using her as a bargaining tool in the game of alliances. Once she was married off, she was no longer of use in that capacity. True, there was Elizabeth, but as she was not recognized as legitimate by the Catholic church, and most of the desirable princes in Europe were of the Catholic faith, Elizabeth was pretty much useless as bargaining bait.

Monica said...

There was always a likelihood that Henry would not live to see Edward reach eighteen. For this reason, Mary and any husband of hers, as adults, would have had supporters who wished for young Edward to disappear, as the last boy-king, Henry's uncle, Edward V, had done. To protect Prince Edward's position, it was important that Mary didn't wed. Henry also probably believed that God would see him another son.

Anonymous said...

Was keeping her single a punishment for disobeying him when she was a teenager?

PhD Historian said...

Yours is a popular and oft-heard question, Cathi, but I suspect it assumes a few conditions that may not necessarily be applicable.

First, Henry did consider marrying off Mary when she was younger. Her first pre-contract was to the Dauphin of France when she was only 2 years old. But as is so often the case with princely marriages in early modern Europe, the match was broken off early for diplomatic reasons (i.e., war with France). Other proposed matches followed, and all similarly failed for various reasons. But the important point is that attempts were made to "let her marry."

By the time Mary was of actual marriageable age, Henry was in the process of divorcing her mother, an act that rendered Mary illegitimate. Her illegitimacy was further codified by an act of Parliament, and the same act barred her from the succession. Continuing to seek a princely marriage for an illegitimate daughter would have clouded the succession issue, in effect supporting her claim to the succession ... something Henry was all too eager to avoid. He had moved both heaven and earth to prevent a female succession, and he maintained that position until 1543/4. He could not risk indirectly supporting any claim Mary may have to the English crown by making a royal marriage for her during the period between 1533 and his own death in 1547 (the same applies to Elizabeth).

Secondly, there was no reason for Henry to assume that "Edward would be his only son." Henry was presumed still capable of fathering children when he married each of his last three wives. It was entirely possible, if perhaps progressively less likely, that Henry might have more sons between 1538 and about 1545. It's only in hindsight that we know that he did not ... he and his contemporaries had no such hindsight.

Lastly, Mary could not "keep the Tudor line going." Even had she born multiple sons, each of those sons would have been a Hapsburg, not a Tudor. Dynasties are determined patrilineally, not matrilineally, at least under ordinary circumstances of an unchallenged succession. Henry never envisioned the Tudor dynasty being sustained by a female line. Thus he never considered Mary as his dynastic heiress. And Henry eventually made her an heiress to the crown only in what were considered in foresight as extreme circumstances. There was no reason for anyone to assume in 1543/44 that Edward would die young and without issue. Henry's naming of Mary and Elizabeth to succeed Edward was, at the time, merely a matter of obsessively dotting the i's and crossing the t's, not an act of clairvoyant planning for a pre-conceived future.

Regarding Elizabeth M's response ... was Mary Tudor ever styled "Queen of Spain" within the Spanish realms? I'm not certain that she was. I believe she was instead referred to by her superior title as Queen of England and Ireland. But I could be wrong. I cannot seem to find any source to confirm my suspicion. Foose, I bet you can..... The treaty that ratified the marriage between Mary and Philip addresses in detail Philip's status in England but says nothing regarding Mary's status in Spain.

As for the inheritance question ... the Act of Parliament ratifying the marriage between Mary and Philip specifically barred any children of that marriage from inheriting any of Philip's potential realms except in extenuating circumstances. That is, any son had by Mary through Philip would not have been next in line after Philip to inherit any portion of the Spanish Empire. Her putative son would have inherited only her English and Irish realms. Spain and its territories were to be inherited by Don Charles of Asturias (1545-1568), eldest son of Philip by his previous marriage to Maria Manuela of Portugal.

Luv said...

@Anonymous- No, I do not think Henry's failure to married Mary off, was a form of punishment. Henry VIII wasn't looking to punish his daughter after she return to court. However,
according to the book "Edward VI: The Lost King of England by Chris Skidmore. Henry VIII deathbed regret was not being able to find a suitable husband for Mary. Henry VIII supposedly apologize to Mary for not finding her a suitable husband.

Anonymous said...

After Katherine of Aragon and Mary were placed in what amounted to house arrest-- and a good ways apart, Katherine wrote to Mary advising her not to even think of marriage until times where better--meanng presumably when Henry had returned to what both women saw as the true Christian church.
Mary would have been very much against marriage to a Protestant, and in fact Henry's version of the church was not much like other forms of non-Roman christianity. Marrying her to a Roman Catholic would have encouraged Roman Caholic resistance if he were English or taken her right out of the realm and given pretext for invasion if he were not English.
Once Edward became King, this problem only got worse. Mary was a full generation older than her brother, who never lived to be old enough to come into his full authority. Her husband, especially if they had children, could have been a really serious threat. Mary made plans to escape to the mainland, but never carried through with them. After all, claiming her inheritance from abroad would have had its own difficulties. Had she done so, whoever gave her refuge would have surely not only allowed but pressured her to marry.

Foose said...

I looked at this for the first time today, and behold! there was a question for me on Mary Tudor as Queen of Spain.

Loades doesn't mention it and neither does Anna Whitelock, author of the latest Marian biography. However, Henry Kamen, author of a biography on Philip II, notes in his book that:

"Philip was at Arras when he received on 1 November, All Saints' Day, firm news of his father's death at Yuste."

So the news might have been delayed and then needed to be confirmed in England, and as Mary began her final illness that autumn (Jane Dormer noted that she took to her chamber "about the end of August ... and never came abroad again") she might not really have taken notice -- through announcements, commemorations, plans for another coronation, etc. -- of the fact that she was now Queen of Spain.

However, she might have technically been Queen of Spain earlier. Charles V, continuing his ceremonial divestiture of his various sovereignties as he prepared for retirement, resigned the actual business of the crowns of Castile and Aragon to Philip in January 1556; on February 3, 1556, we have the following:

"Sir John Masone to Sir William Petre. Will receive herewith the account of the renunciation made lately by the Emperor of the kingdoms of Spain and Sicily to his son ..."

I couldn't find any record of Mary's reaction. Martin Hume, however, romances it up:

"Heart-broken Mary Tudor was from that day Queen of Spain as well as Queen of England. The title was a hollow one for her, though ..."

Still, with the Emperor yet alive and barraging his son and daughter-in-law wth advice, probably Mary did not emphasize her new regal status in the remaining two years. She is always referred to in ambassadorial correspondence as the Queen of England, not Spain.

Anonymous said...

If Mary and her mother what have went back to spain which would have reasonable in earlier part of henry8th's luncacy of getting a devorce he would have came back to his senses and Cathrine could have came back on top