Friday, February 12, 2016

Honour, Bounty, Mercy and Pity - Yet More Virtues in 1522 Shrove Tuesday Pageant - Which One Was a Poser?

Put a big question mark next to the title of this blog post, as it is difficult to conclusively say just which of the ladies at Henry VIII's Court played the roles of Bounty, Mercy and Pity in the Shrove Tuesday, 1522 Pageant. 
The names "Mistress Browne" and "Mistress Danet (Dannet)" are bandied about as the most likely ladies to have portrayed Bounty and Mercy, in that order, in the revelries of the Chateau Vert pageant.

Honour: Mistress Gertrude Blount. 
She was true-blue to Catherine of Aragon and her daughter, Mary I.
Catharine of Aragon: a friend in need. Mistress Blount: a friend indeed. :-) Don't you love a happy news tidbit?
According to Eric Ives*, Mistress Blount played the role of Honour. 
That seems an appropriate role for her to have played; she 'honoured' her duties to Catherine of Aragon and to Mary I after the death of Catherine. 
Gertrude does not appear to be related to Bessie Blount, widely known to be the mother of Henry Fitzroy, favored bastard son of Henry VIII. 
The sheer number of Tudor courtiers and their ladies who all shared surnames without being recognized as relatives can be confusing and the case of Gertrude and Bessie Blount is no exception. 

Gertrude Blount, 'Honour,' remained a faithful and true ally to Catherine of Aragon and Mary I. 
She died shortly before Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary I, after a lifetime of service and 'honour.'
Here is where Gertrude Blount is currently taking the dirt nap.

Bounty: Mistress Browne's Christian name is not mentioned in Edward Hall's account of the evening's festivities. 
Still, by checking birth dates, it's possible to tease out the likely candidates bearing the surname 'Browne.' 
The most likely appears to be an Elizabeth Browne, b. 1500 and by all accounts, a lady very close indeed to Anne Boleyn. 
It's possible that she, once accused by her brother of immorality while she was a member of Anne Boleyn's household, that she replied she was no worse than the Queen in that respect.
Finger-pointing? Why, Anne Boleyn is just over there. . . . said Elizabeth Browne, shade-thrower.
 There is another account that states Elizabeth Browne was one of Henry VIII's mistresses, and that she told that same brother that he should talk to Mark Smeaton about the Queen's misconduct. 
Both of those are unsubstantiated accounts.
Still, if you believe where there's smoke, there's likely fire,
Smoke detector says, "I smell it!"
the accounts are worth a second thought.
For Anne Boleyn, at the time she most needed faithful and true friends, Mistress Browne was a Bounty of Duplicity,
Mistress Browne had two faces.
rather than the 'generous' meaning of the word at that time.

Mercy: Mistress Danet (or Dannett) is another lady whose  identification requires investigation.
Elizabeth Danet is most likely the woman who played Mercy. 
She was tight with Catherine of Aragon and appeared as one of her women at Court by 1521, then went on to have twelve (12! Mercy!) children with her husband, Sir John Arundell of Lanhorne, before dying (of exhaustion?) in 1564.
Meet the Arundell's - one dad, one knackered mother, and their twelve offspring. . .

Her alliances at Court appear to never have been strong enough to expose her to accusations when things started going south for Catherine of Aragon. 
Perhaps taking the 'Mary Boleyn route' of dipping for the life of a country lady was a lifesaving method also adopted by Mistress Danet. 
We can't know for sure, yet those twelve (12! Mercy!)
Sorry, lambies, Mummy won't be getting up - she's too tired . . . to move . . . ever again .
children most likely kept her rather busy and away from the dangers of hanging about the court of Henry VIII for too long.

Pity: Well, it's a pity we can't identify definitively who played Pity. 
Sorry, there's just not enough information to go on. 
Such a pity.
Will their Royal Highnesses be staying for dinner?
Alas, no, another engagement. Such a pity.
 *Eric Ives was his name, solid research was his game. No one can currently touch him on writing Anne Boleyn's biography; without some incredible discovered new truth, no one should even try.

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