Thursday, July 30, 2009

Question from Diana - Frances and Eleanor Brandon in the succession

Why were Frances and Eleanor Brandon passed over in the line of succession to the throne in favor of their "heirs of the body" in both Henry VIII's will and Edward VI's Devise for the Succession?


  1. The third and final Act for the Succession and Henry VIII's will both anticipated that Edward would marry and have children, including sons. There was no reason prior to late 1552 to believe that anyone but Edward and his future sons would ever inherit the throne. Of course we know differently now, but we cannot judge Henry's actions based solely on that after-knowledge. We must remember that Henry never really believed the the crown would ever pass beyond his direct descendants. And it was only by a series of historical flukes that it did. Henry's exclusion of Frances and Eleanor Brandon (as well as his exclusion of the line of Margaret Tudor Stuart) was seen in 1547 as little more than rhetorical speculation, without any real consequence or long-term likelihood of actually happening.

    I discuss in considerable detail Edward's Devise and his motives for structuring it as he did in my book on Jane Grey, which I am still trying to get published. My argument is in some ways new, so you must forgive me if I ask you to wait for the book rather than giving away its contents here.

  2. Another consideration -

    Both Eleanor and Frances Brandon were female. Henry was dead set, as we know, on male heirs. As PhD Historian points out, there was no reason for Henry to believe that Edward would not rule and be followed by sons. IF in what Henry considered to be a very unlikely situation, this did not happen, perhaps a male 'heir of the body' of the Brandon females would be available.

    In strict terms of succession, the heirs of Margaret Tudor should have been before the Brandon women as Margaret was the elder sister. But Henry didn't like Margaret that much. He disapproved of her behavior and had already had to 'discipline' her daughter Margaret Douglas for trying to contract a marriage without his permission. SO - if Edward's line failed...then the next potential males that Henry thought suitable would have been Brandon sons.

    Regarding Edward's Devise, PhD Historian is the expert. It all has to do with Jane Grey. You can visit his web site by clicking on his name.....

  3. Did Henry VIII ever express his approval of a possible marriage between his son Edward and any of the Grey sisters or Mary Queen of Scots?

  4. Wasn't the "Rough Wooing" part of a plan to marry Edward to Mary Queen of Scots?

  5. Yes, Lara, the so-called "Rough Wooing" is the nickname given by modern historians to the wars waged by Henry VIII against Scotland in the last years of his reign, on the pretext of enforcing a treaty proposal of 1543 for a marriage between Edward and Mary Stuart. Mary was a mere infant at the time the treaty was proposed, while Edward was slightly less than 6 years old.

    During the course of my research on Lady Jane Grey, Diane, I have never seen evidence of any suggestion of a possible marriage between Edward and a Grey sister prior to Henry VIII's death in January 1547. The idea appears not to have surfaced until after 1547. And I rather doubt that Henry would have approved of the idea, had he known of it. In the first place, it would have negated his rationale for waging the war against Scotland. It would likewise have removed Edward from the international marriage market, where he was a valuable diplomatic negotiable commodity. Lastly, it would have elevated a family that I believe Henry actually wished to keep in check (more on that in my book).

  6. Henry VIII was committed to continuing his father's interest in bringing Scotland under Tudor rule, or at least to ensure friendly relations along the border. Henry VII orchestrated the marriage of his daughter, H8's sister, to James IV of Scotland. Marrying Edward to Margaret's granddaughter Mary Queen of Scots was a continuation of this policy. If interested in the 'rough wooing' I suggest Marcus Merriman's book, 'The Rough Wooings'.

    PhD Historian is the expert on the Grey sisters but I also second his assessment that marrying Edward to a domestic girl was a waste of a foreign policy playing card. Henry VIII would not have seriously considered the Grey sisters for his son. IF he took an interest in their marital arrangements at all (presuming he lived long enough) he would have looked to use them to better advantage.

  7. Iam interested to know if there are any present day decedents of Frances or Eleanor Brandon , I did work for a family in Yorkshire for a while and was told of a family connection , when looking up on the internet a source said the daughters of the family were somehting like 19th generation descendents of Mary Tudor whom I assumed was Henry VIII sister.

  8. UK Lady, Eleanor Brandon is my 12th great grandmother on my mother's side. Eleanor's daughter, Margaret Clifford, married Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby. Henry Stanley was LaVonne Stanley Kellogg's(my mother)10th great grandfather.

  9. Mary Tudor had three children who survived infancy: Frances, Eleanor, and Henry, Earl of Lincoln. Since their father was Duke of Suffolk and their mother was Dowager Queen of France and Princess of England, they were treated with utmost respect. Henry was positive Edward would have heirs, but he did not. In Edward's will, he named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, eldest daughter of Frances Grey, as his heir. Lady Jane was married to Guilford Dudley, son of the Earl of Northumberland. Naturally Mary did not want to go along with her brother's plans and the English people wanted Mary as Queen. Lady Jane Grey, her husband, and her father were all executed in 1554. Frances Grey and her husband had raised Jane to be the future Queen of England, hoping Edward would marry her. Edward never did, but her parents still wanted her to be Queen.


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