Monday, July 26, 2010

The Elder Son of Henry VIII.

Author Stephanie Mann discusses the Duke of Richmond.
Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy died on July 23, 1536. He was Henry's son by Elizabeth Blount, born in 1519 and Henry had bestowed many honors and much wealth upon him: the Order of the Garter; titles such as the Earl of Nottingham, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Admiral of England, Ireland, and Normandy, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland--these offices and titles made him very rich. His birth and survival was a sign to Henry that it was not his fault none of the sons borne by Katherine of Aragon survived.

In 1533 he married Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk. Henry Fitzroy died just when Henry VIII was considering naming him his heir, in spite of his illegitimacy, since he had no other son to succeed him. Fitzroy witnessed the executions of the Carthusians and of Anne Boleyn; we have no information about what he thought of the religious changes going on around him, although his wife was an evangelical reformer.
The Duke of Richmond's death, said by contemporaries to have been by consumption, at age 17/18 has provoked some wonder if he, Prince Arthur, Henry VIII's older brother, and Edward VI, Henry's son, all shared some congenital disease.


Enbrethiliel said...


Elena, do you think England would have accepted an illegitimate son for their king, if it ever came to that?

I almost feel sorry for Henry VIII, going through all that trouble to make sure he had a son on the throne, and then ending up with two daughters reigning as queen, anyway!

elena maria vidal said...

Since there was a precedent in the fact that William the Conqueror was born out of wedlock, I don't think that people would have minded. One could be a natural child but still legitimate, if recognized by one's father, as Richmond was.

Stephanie A. Mann said...

We should also remember that Elizabeth was never "rehabilitated" by Parliament, so she was illegitimate. Mary I had been proclaimed illegitimate too, but that decree was reversed by Parliament when she came to the throne. Elizabeth's place in the succession was restored, but not her legitimate birth!

elena maria vidal said...

That is true as well!

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, good grief! All those "illegitimate" children! What a legacy Henry VIII has left to us!

CR Wall said...

Sadly, Fitzroy would die while still a child. I realize he was married, but truly, he was but a child. I've always felt sorry for Fitzroy. He must have wondered all his life exactly what his role was in his father's life. He was the son of the king, and yet illegitimate, borne of a mistress. He was separated from his mother at an early age, to prepare him for life at court. Ultimately, he would die a lingering death from consumption.

Theresa Bruno said...

Henry Fitzroy is often over shadowed by his siblings and step mothers. Depending on his personality, I believe he would have been able to become king. Charisma, charm, political skills and an army are really all one needs to be king. Just look at Henry VII. He didn't have much of a claim to the throne of England, but he could fight!