Thursday, August 13, 2015

Marys All Over the Place. Today's Mary: Tudor aka Dowager Queen of France

MaryTudor112.jpg
Mary Tudor, younger sister of Henry VIII - prettiest girl on the planet in her time. 

It's easy to get your Tudor Marys muddled.
There's Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's sister.)
There's Mary I (also Mary Tudor. This time, Henry VIII's daughter.)
Mary of Guise (mother of Mary, Queen of Scots) 
Mary, Queen of Scots.

Mary Tudor, younger sister of Henry VIII, was the darling of the Tudor family. 
Born in 1496, Mary was Henry VIII's favorite sister; while Henry VIII's older brother, Prince Arthur, learned how to be king from his father, Henry VII, the younger Henry was raised in a household with his mother and sisters.
Mary grew up to be staggeringly good-looking. 
That was a bonus in the chess game of royal/political marriages at the time; eldest son was the heir, next son the spare, all daughters - marriage material to strengthen the family 'brand,' or, in the case of royalty, to strengthen the Crown. 

She was only a young teen when her father died and her brother succeeded him, so it was Henry-her-favorite-brother-who-was-now-king who got to decide her bridegroom. 
Mary may have been Henry's favorite sibling, but business was business and King Henry VIII's business needed a spell of peace from headache-inducing France.
Louis XII was a king without a male heir. 
Mary, gorg and 18, by all accounts was the answer; beautiful, young and fertile until proved otherwise. 
Louis XII on the other hand, wasn't beautiful. He was an old man, fifty-two, and the years hadn't been nice to him.
Mary, crazy in love already with one of Henry's best friends, Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, refused to marry him and threw a right royal pout (not blaming her even a little bit; nightmare scenario) but it did no good.
She squared off with her-yes-still-my-fave-but-you're-pushing-it-brother Henry and told him fine - she'd marry Louis XII - conditional that she be allowed to make her own choice with a second marriage if and when she outlived Louis XII.
Henry said fine, now march on up that aisle.
Mary said her, "I do's." 

In under four months she'd screwed the old king to death.

In the name of trying for an heir, the young Mary vigorously did her wifely duty.
The French king's cause of death could have been any number of things, but the buzz at the time among court notes was that he'd died of having too much sex.
Mary Tudor, whose first husband died with a smile on his face. 
Without asking permission from her I-guess?-still-my-fave brother, Mary moved fast as a motivated girl crazy in love could, and married, all signed, sealed and unbreakable vows, her true love, Charles Brandon.

Henry VIII, who'd already started cutting deals for Mary's next husband ("What promise?") experienced a loud dramatic fit of pique, but eventually warmed to the idea.
This was one of his best friends, after all, and his pick-of-the-litter sister, and they'd been in love since, like, forever, so eff it, let's party. 
Sorta. 
Henry had a way of forgetting he'd forgiven all blah blah blah when he needed something; too often at that point, Nasty Henry came out. Made people a little jumpy around him once they'd witnessed it.

Charles and Mary Brandon, Duke and Duchess of Suffolk survived Henry's hissy fit and went on to have three little Brandons: Henry (named for you-know-who) and his two sisters, Frances and Eleanor.
In Charles Brandon, Mary married (slightly) down, and in Tudor era court society that meant "I'll risk being socially ostracized for the rest of my natural life." 

It's an interesting maneuver and one used by Tudor-era royalty and nobility as an 'opt out.' 
In Mary's case, it meant if Brandon, God forbid, died young, Mary would be considered socially damaged goods in the stakes of political arranged marriages - lol, I don't have to marry who you say, Henry, 'cause I pulled the pin and married down.

Henry VIII's favorite sibling, the one who boldly jumped towards true love, young wife and mother, died on June 24th,1533.

Mary Tudor - so much going on behind the forehead in that perfection of a face*Note: Mary's granddaughter was Queen Jane Grey, the seventeen year old willed the throne by her cousin, Edward VI - then overthrown and later, executed by another Mary Tudor; Henry VIII's daughter, Mary I.