One legitimate prince. Two sometimes-legitimate princesses.
Then there were all those royal bastards.
Literal bastards - while a king was expected to reproduce his family line with his wife, the queen, it was generally accepted and understood that a king might get a little . . . anxious . . . during the long spells of the queen's pregnancy.
|"Say, Henry VIII, want a date?"|
The answer for a king whose codpiece was danger of a wardrobe malfunction was, of course, a mistress.
There was a certain amount of honour in the king choosing a woman as his mistress; but the other edge of that sword was the 'damaged goods,' the 'sloppy seconds,' the 'popped cherry' label.
After all, a plate of leftovers, even from a five-star restaurant, is still a plate that somebody else had their mouth on before you.
In the case of Henry VIII who left no small number of plates of leftovers throughout the womanhood of his court, there were also little bastards springing forth.
One of the little royal bastards was named Henry Fitzroy.
Henry Fitzroy was born in 1519, when his half-sister, the Princess Mary, was toddling around her own royal nursery, aged three.
His name was no coincidence: Henry (obvious choice) Fitzroy - 'fitz' was a 'son of' word, and 'roy' meant king.
Imagine being the queen, sitting at court with a well-mannered princess daughter, when suddenly the doors burst open and in came the king - with a boisterous little boy; not the queen's little boy, but the king's side dish's boy.
Smile, dear, and don't let your crown slip.
Henry Fitzroy would likely not have been made so much of had Princess Mary turned out to Prince (insert name here.)
But Henry VIII was getting on, and his wife, Catherine of Aragon was six years older than Henry VIII.
Six years and her biological clock was . . . s l o w i n g
d o w n.
Chances were good her days of having children were over.
Henry VIII, having lived through the hell of watching his wife go through multiple pregnancies, only to have the little babies die either at, or shortly after, birth, was relieved and did not hold back showing off his little royal bastard boy.
Henry Fitzroy grew up entitled, privileged, given every special treatment around.
Henry Fitzroy is a bit of a mystery; as a royal bastard, there were few records kept about his day-to-day life, but the boy definitely knew he was son of the king, and he knew there weren't any other sons.
There was every possibility that if Henry Fitzroy had lived long enough to wait it out, he might very well have sat on the throne of England once Edward VI died in 1553.
No such luck for Henry Fitzroy, royal bastard.
Although he lived to age seventeen, and even more incredibly to our modern minds, was married, the royal bastard died, likely of tuberculosis, in July of 1536.
The previous May, Henry VIII had stepped back while his wife, Anne Boleyn and five male courtiers, tried desperately to grab him to keep from going under the headsman's axe.
Henry VIII, not a very trustworthy guy, pretended he didn't see them waving from their cells in the Tower of London.
He was playing tennis at Hampton Court Palace, some say, while Anne Boleyn's body was getting lonesome for its head.
("Oh, sorry, did I hear someone slice something over there? No matter; my serve.")
Not a good year for Henry VIII.
Fortunately for him, his next wife, Jane Seymour, did manage to give him another son, Prince Edward - although Jane died almost immediately afterwards (and died hard, too - post-childbirth infection meant she agonized with fever and unbelievable pain for a good week before the infection finally killed her.)
|Henry Fitzroy. Dig your crazy 'do rag, dude.|
It's nice that while Henry Fitzroy, royal bastard, was alive, his life was pleasant and he was clearly valued by his father.
The sixteenth century was tough on babies, women and young adults, and death didn't make a distinction between a royal and a royal bastard.
When death came a calling, it was dirt nap time, regardless of how young, old or blue your blood.