Friday, August 07, 2009

Question from TudorRose - Queens' surnames

What was Catherine of Aragon's surname?

I would like to know the Surnames for Catherine of Aragon Anne of Cleves and Christina of Milan.Does anyone know? If so I would appreciate that you tell me.As someone who has long been interested in Tudor history but does not know the surnames to theese foreign princesses.For example Elizabeth of York is Elizabeth Plantagenate.Elizabeth Plantagenate of York.

[Note from Lara - this was mostly answered in the thread linked below, but I don't think Christina of Milan was discussed before.]


  1. If Christina of Denmark used a surname at all I think it would probably have been Oldenburg. Her first husband's surname was Sforza.

  2. As Lara notes, the question has been pretty thoroughly covered in the previous thread. Just click on the link and read the discussion between myself and Foose. But to provide a brief re-cap here: Queens and princesses do not have surnames in the modern sense of the word. Elizabeth of York was a descendant of the Plantagenet dynastic house, but Plantagenet was not her surname. She had no surname, as such.

    Catherine of Aragon was a member of the dynstic house of Trastamara, but Trastamara was not her surname. She had no surname, as such.

    Anne of Cleves was a member of the dynastic house of Berg, but she had no surname, as such.

    Christina of Milan, or more properly Christina of Denmark, was a member of the house of Oldenburg, but as with the others mentioned above, Oldenburg was not her surname, as such.

    I know it can be difficult to grasp the notion that royalty do not have surnames in the modern "usual" sense of that term, but that is part of what makes them "royal." They are so fundamentally different from the "average" person that they do not need a surname to distinguish them from the general population. The title "Princess" (or "Prince" or "Queen" or "King") is considered sufficiently specific to void any need for a surname. Only commoners need surnames, so only commoners have them.

  3. I disagree with you there.I do not think that surnames were just applied to commoners or just given to commoners.There are royals with surnames Past and present and members of nobillity past and present that do have surnames.For example:Henry VIII of England was alternitavely known as before he came to the throne and after he became king Was known and still known as Henry Tudor.For an example on someone for nobillity:Frances Brandon king Henry VIII's neice.Even though she took this surname from her father Charles Brandon.
    I appreciate the answers that everyone has given.I do think and have always thought that Elizabeth of York mother to king Henry VIII surname was plantagenate.After all before the Tudors came to the throne the Plantagenates as they were called were ruling England.Therefore all those monarchs and their relatives would be and have of been a Plantagenate.
    That leaves me with the conclusion that theese other princes and princesses that were Catherine of or Christina of or Elizabeth of and Anne of all had surnames.
    Obviously the of was given to princes and princesses of England or elsewhere and it does make the bearer of the place stand out as a person.Obviously they were of royal birth so thus would be different and treated differently.So therefore would be addressed differently.But not all royals were given the of of a place.I think that it was just the females of royalty that were given this of of and it was given during a certain time period and then it was not used anymore.I notice that it was used mainly in the medieval and Tudor period.

  4. Well, TudorRose, I confess I am a bit flummoxed by your response. It is more than a little difficult to decipher.

    Yes, Henry VII is known today as "Henry Tudor." However, I challenge you to find any document from before or during his reign to which he applied the signature "Henry Tudor." He used the signature "Henry Richmond" prior to 1485, which was based on his claim to the earldom of Richmond. After 1485, he signed as simply "Henry Rex." And neither "Richmond " nor "Rex" could correctly be considered as his surname.

    As for Frances Brandon Grey, though she was the niece of the king, she was not a wife or daughter of a reigning monarch. Thus she was not entitled to be called "Princess." Nor did she have any other title in her own right that might supercede a familial surname. And after her marriage to Henry Grey, she consistently signed her name either "Frances Dorset" or (after 1551) "Frances Suffolk," not "Frances Brandon" or "Frances Grey." Yet neither "Dorset" nor "Suffolk" could correctly be considered her surname.

    Further, the name "Plantagenet" attached to the dynasty preceding the Tudors is also a late invention that was never used by members of the dynasty itself until the middle of the 15th century. And "Plantagenet" was a nickname much like William the Conqueror or Richard Lionheart or John Lackland. If anything, as descendants of Henry II, the line might more properly be "surnamed" Anjou, since Henry II was the son of Geoffrey of Anjou.

    And again, Elizabeth of York never signed her name "Elizabeth Plantagenet." She signed her name simply "Elizabeth."

    Lastly, you are incorrect in stating that "it was just the females of royalty who were given this of and it was given during a certain time period and then it was not used anymore." Male children of royal lineage were often referred to using "the of" in the past, and are still referred to today using "the of." Thus we had Edward III's sons Lionel of Antwerp, John of Gaunt, Edmund of Langley, and Thomas of Woodstock. Unless Edward III's sons each had a different surname from their father and from each other, those "ofs" do not serve as a surname.

    And today, Princes William and Harry are properly styled "The Prince William of Wales and "the Prince Harry of Wales." And if you look at photographs of each in their military uniforms, you will find that neither princes' nametag has the Windsor family surname on it. William's reads "William Wales" and Harry's reads "Harry Wales."

    Quite simply, TudorRose, you are wrong.

  5. I have to agree with PhD Historian on this one. The 'of place' was applied to both genders. What about William of Orange?

    The acquisition of title upstaged any surname. When Frances Howard married the earl of Kildare she started signing her name Frances Kildare, not Frances Fitzgerald which was the surname of her new husband. Robert Dudley started signing himself Robert Leicester, or just Leicester, once Elizabeth had made him an earl. His sister-in-law signed herself Anne Warwick as she was married to the earl of Warwick, Ambrose Dudley and she had been Anne Russell before this marriage. Note she did not sign herself as Anne Dudley, countess of Warwick.

    Mary Queen of Scots' mother was known as Mary of Lorraine, or by many historians as Mary of Guise. Her family name was Guise.

    I have never seen a document signed by Elizabeth I as Elizabeth Tudor. That would be diminishing her status. James the VI never signed James Stuart that I know of...

    I myself would much rather be Christina of Denmark than Christina Oldenburg.

    And the example of Prince William and Harry using the appellation Wales as their surname on their uniforms is merely the contemporary example.

    Was your original question an enquiry into what the familial names might be of the various royal houses? Or in the case of the females you mention, the family names of their husbands? If so, that has been answered.

  6. Oh am I PHD? I understand what you are saying and have read what you have said.But I see it differently.Yes you are right in saying that it was males aswell that were named after places aswell as the females but I still beleive that each and every royal be it from which ever country had a surname.

  7. TudorRose - you can "believe" whatever you like, but as several people have already responded, not every royal family had a surname in the sense that we know them today.

  8. TudorRose

    I hope I did not confuse things over Christina of Denmark. She was of the House of Oldenburg & what I meant was that if for some reason she needed a surname in the way we have them today(not likely), then Oldenburg would have been the obvious choice.

    If you go to the official website of The British Monarchy at

    it explains in further detail what kb & PhD are saying, i.e. that the Royals had no surname as such until the changes made by King George V in the face of anti-German feeling in 1917,

    "Before 1917, members of the British Royal Family had no surname, but only the name of the house or dynasty to which they belonged.

    Kings and princes were historically known by the names of the countries over which they and their families ruled. Kings and queens therefore signed themselves by their first names only, a tradition in the United Kingdom which has continued to the present day."

    It goes on to explain how the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, came about in the present reign,

    "For the most part, members of the Royal Family who are entitled to the style and dignity of HRH Prince or Princess do not need a surname, but if at any time any of them do need a surname (such as upon marriage), that surname is Mountbatten-Windsor.

    The surname Mountbatten-Windsor first appeared on an official document on 14 November 1973, in the marriage register at Westminster Abbey for the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips."

    (Apparently the late Queen Mother was always opposed to the introduction of Mountbatten into the name; of course that is not mentioned on the website. The origin of the name Mountbatten itself is interesting, if you want to follow it up.)

    The name Plantagenet, although now freely used by historians for the dynasty that preceded the Tudors, seems to have eventually been somewhat loosely used in the fifteenth century after having been a nickname for centuries. Henry II (reigned 1154-1189) was the son of Matilda, daughter of Henry I, and Geoffrey Duke of Anjou; the Duke of Anjou used to wear a sprig of yellow broom, or 'planta genista' in his helmet; hence 'plantagenet'. The early rulers of this dynasty are known as the Angevins, 'Men of Anjou'.

  9. In response to TudorRose regarding Henry VIII having Tudor as a surname, I would just like to say that I agree in the sense that Tudor WAS his surname, but I don't think he would ever have used it because it would have reminded everyone that his family origins were humble. The only reason the Tudors had the surname that they did was because their family were not originally royals. I seem to remember that the surname came from Henry VIII's grandfather Owen Tudor whose only connection with royalty was his scandalous marriage with Henry V's widow. Therefore, I conclude that although Tudor was Henry VIII's surname, he would never have used it because of the non-royal connotations it carried.

  10. @PhD Historian: Frances Brandon might have signed with Dorset or Suffolk, but her brother is described by Hall in the following words:

    "the lorde Henry Brandon, sonne to the duke of Suffolke and the Frenche Quene the kynges sister, a childe of twoo yere old, was greated Erle of Lincolne" (page 703)

    That to me indicates that nobles did think of their surname as part of their name and identity and passed it to the next generation, but would use a title instead of that surname as soon as they had one, because of the higher social status this denoted. Henry FitzRoy is mentioned by that name in Hall as well, although he himself signed with Henry Richmond. I think you will find for any noble child or relative without a title a mention of them as the Lord or Lady (insert surname), such as "Lady Jane Grey" and "Lord Henry Brandon".

  11. Feuerrabe, you hit the mark quite precisely and provide a perfect illustration of the kind of confusion that surrounds name usage among the titled nobility ... and a principle reason why I tried in my original posts to avoid certain issues in order to minimize the confusion.

    Yes, exactly as you said, for "any noble child or relative without a title a mention of them as the Lord or Lady (insert surname)" is usually seen. The critical part of that sentence, which I have italicized, is "without a title." In the absence of a title in their own right, the surname of the paternal lineage is "reactivated," for lack of a better word. So yes, the Brandon boys, prior to being granted a title in their own right, might have been correctly referred to by their father's original and pre-noble surname. Likewise Henry Fitzroy was known by the invented surname Fitzroy before he was made Duke of Richmond and Somerset at age 6 years.

    The original question, I should note, referred to royalty, rather than nobility. The Brandon boys, Frances Brandon Grey, and Henry Fitzroy were all non-royalty, by Tudor-era standards. They may have been descended from royal blood but they were not themselves considered "royalty" in the same sense that Henry VIII, his wives, or his son Edward were. Even in regard to Mary and Elizabeth, there was considerable confusion at the time as to whether or not they (especially Elizabeth) were "royalty," since they had both been declared illegitimate. Each was referred to in all legal documents prior to their own accession as "the Lady Mary" or "the Lady Elizabeth," not "Princess." Only non-legal writers, such as chroniclers like Hall and Fox, referred to them as Princess, and those chroniclers did so out of personal bias rather than "legal correctness." But note that at the same time, none of those chroniclers ever referred to either as "Lady/Princess Mary Tudor" or "Lady /Princess Elizabeth Tudor."

  12. I read somewhere that the name Mountbatten-Windsor was only given to female royals who would not pass the surname on to any legitimate children. I think that this was because the Queen Mother was against the introduction of the name Mountbatten into the surname, as Marilyn R said, but Prince Philip objected to the fact that none of his children would bear his name. In the end this was the only compromise they could come up with. However, all male royals still officially bear the surname Windsor. I think that's right, but don't quote me on this, I'm not an expert.

  13. Lara, I know this is straying away from the original question!!

    tudor fanatic:

    Until I looked at the official Royal site, like you I had thought that only females were concerned, but apparently not. I quote in full,

    "Just as children can take their surnames from their father, so sovereigns normally take the name of their 'House' from their father. For this reason, Queen Victoria's eldest son Edward VII belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (the family name of his father Prince Albert). Edward VII's son George V became the second king of that dynasty when he succeeded to the throne in 1910.

    In 1917, there was a radical change, when George V specifically adopted Windsor, not only as the name of the 'House' or dynasty, but also as the surname of his family. The family name was changed as a result of anti-German feeling during the First World War, and the name Windsor was adopted after the Castle of the same name.

    At a meeting of the Privy Council on 17 July 1917, George V declared that 'all descendants in the male line of Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than female descendants who marry or who have married, shall bear the name of Windsor'.

    The Royal Family name of Windsor was confirmed by The Queen after her accession in 1952. However, in 1960, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh decided that they would like their own direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the Royal Family (without changing the name of the Royal House), as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of George V.

    It was therefore declared in the Privy Council that The Queen's descendants, other than those with the style of Royal Highness and the title of Prince/Princess, or female descendants who marry, would carry the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.

    This reflected Prince Philip's surname. In 1947, when Prince Philip of Greece became naturalised, he assumed the name of Philip Mountbatten as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

    The effect of the declaration was that all The Queen's children, on occasions when they needed a surname, would have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

    For the most part, members of the Royal Family who are entitled to the style and dignity of HRH Prince or Princess do not need a surname, but if at any time any of them do need a surname (such as upon marriage), that surname is Mountbatten-Windsor.

    The surname Mountbatten-Windsor first appeared on an official document on 14 November 1973, in the marriage register at Westminster Abbey for the marriage of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.

    A proclamation on the Royal Family name by the reigning monarch is not statutory; unlike an Act of Parliament, it does not pass into the law of the land. Such a proclamation is not binding on succeeding reigning sovereigns, nor does it set a precedent which must be followed by reigning sovereigns who come after.

    Unless The Prince of Wales chooses to alter the present decisions when he becomes king, he will continue to be of the House of Windsor and his grandchildren will use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor."

    (I'm just glad Prince Philip chose his surname from his mother's side; his father, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, was of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg.)

  14. Thanks for clearing that up, Marilyn R. Sorry I made a comment that was a bit off the subject!

  15. I've read that the surnames of queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were respectively Guelph and Witten. These names not associated with the house of origin or region which were the house of Hanover (Victoria) and Saxe Coburg Gotha (Albert).


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