20 October 2009
This and That On the House of Tudor
What does the great king have to do with Mary Boleyn? Plenty! She was actually Bluff King Hal's mistress before the doomed Anne was. Their relationship was hardly a fling, as portrayed in the Tudors series, but lasted some time. AND, some historians are convinced that Mary's children were actually sired by King Henry VIII! More on that later. Much more on that later.
Anyhoo, in a nutshell, none of HR's kids liked each other very much. Yes, there was typically trouble in the House of Tudor. His eldest child, Mary, that is Bloody Mary, came along first. Or, shall we say she was the first child that survived between Henry and Catherine. At the time of her birth, she was legitimate, then according to Hal she became a bastard, then she legitimized herself again when she took the throne, and was never a bastard again. Well, that's debatable given her behaviour. Now I don't know how one can make himself/herself legitimate again, but she did it; yes she did. Mary usually got her way in any matter. (Except in matters of the heart. When she was still young and reasonably attractive, there were some handsome lads interested in taking her hand, but her Big Papa broke off her engagements for this reason or that. When she was finally able to marry, she was a prematurely aged, shriveled up shell of a woman with scary huge eyes and no eyebrows. Contemporary reports write that her eyes were very white--shudders. Oh, it would be lazy of me not to mention that contemporary reports of Queen Mary all record that she had a mannish voice. If that were not enough to scare the daylights out of her household, and kingdom, she had many people burnt at the stake. Now there are actually a following of hers, yes, in this modern day, who sympathize with Mary Tudor. (I think the series on Showtime "The Tudors" might have something to do with that. But the real Mary Tudor looked nothing like the beautiful girl Sarah Bolger, who portrays Mary on The Tudors.) Mary Tudor's sympathizers lament: Oh but consider how her father treated her! She was forcibly separated from her mother! She was in fear for her life! ACTUALLY, many people have lived lives far more hellish than that cruel tyrant, and have never murdered anyone. Far less murdered anyone for their faith, or lack of. (Dear Readers: Please understand that my comments are not based on any anti-Catholic sentiment. While I am Protestant, many of my beloved family members are Catholic. My comments are not about my subject's respective faiths, rather their behaviours. Anne Boleyn did some wonderful things, and she also did tremendous damage to others. More on that later. Much more on that later.)
Without going off on a tangent, by now everyone knows that Mary did not get along with Elizabeth, who did not get along with Edward, and feel free to mix and match in any direction. Henry's children had little affection for one another. Strangely, his son born by the dazzling beauty Bessie Blount, Henry Fitzroy, seemed to coast along without too much difficulty. Maybe being a bastard made Fitzroy feel strangely free and not compelled to fight with his half-siblings not born out of wedlock. Edward VI, particularly clashed with Mary Tudor. Their respective religious views would keep them far apart while they lived. Elizabeth sort of tried to please both brother and sister; then again she sort of didn't. Never a shrinking violet, Elizabeth only became more stubborn as she grew older. It didn't help that Elizabeth reminded Mary of Anne Boleyn. Save for the flaming red hair, she certainly resembled her mother in more than one way. After Anne's death, Mary did have some sort of pity on the then Baby Elizabeth. She also took care of her, occasionally, though not very willingly. Because of their shared history, they would always have a love-hate relationship. In Mary's eyes, Elizabeth was a heretic, Anne Boleyn's daughter, and yet, her little sister. Thus, she would always bear conflicting feelings toward Elizabeth. Things reached a boiling point after Mary married the Spanish prince Philip II. First of all, the English people did not appreciate having to defer to a Spanish king. Naturally, like most people of any country, they preferred one of their own countryman. They knew full well the disaster that could befall them if the Spanish king had his way. His sympathies were naturally 100% towards his own country. The arrogant and cold Phillip 2 found his wife old and, well, ugly. Mary had been sickly since childhood, had a very disturbing personality, was prone to curl up in the fetal position during periods of clinical depression that would last for weeks, and horror of horrors, she was infertile. Even in this day, 37 is a tad long in the tooth for pregnancy, in Tudor times, she was positively ancient. (I'm not taking pot shots at her age. Myself, I am past 37 and have entered the great divide which separates those who are under 40, and alas, those who are over.) Making matters worse, Elizabeth was in the bloom of youth. She was considered to be quite the beauty, red hair, statuesque. Elizabeth was well studied, a splendid dancer, basically the Miss Universe of her day. Unfortunately, even Phillip noticed. Disastrously, he ORDERED his wife to treat her younger sister with the utmost "kindness." Any woman can imagine this scenario. You're frantically making Botox appointments, and ordering Spanx by the truckload, and you've got a little sister who looks like Charlize Theron, and is about a foot taller than you. And then--your much younger than yourself husband orders you to be nice to your little sister or else he just might not come home. That is how things went! The aging queen had her darling little sister summarily thrown in the Tower. Elizabeth was just sure she would now follow her late mother to the scaffold. But fate was in Elizabeth's favor, as it usually was. Mary's popularity was plummeting through the floorboards. After all, she had sent a mass of innocent people to horrible deaths simply because they chose the Protestant faith. She had proven to be unsuccessful in giving England an heir. (In Tudor times, many women were already in menopause at 37, so conceiving a child had been a tall, tall order.) Feeling like he had nothing to stick around for, Phillip departed for his beloved Spain. (He would have been more than happy to marry Elizabeth once his wife was out of the picture, and hinted at it enough towards pals to the extent that Elizabeth caught wind of his amorous feelings. She made it clear in no uncertain terms that she wouldn't dream of marrying her sister's dainty little husband.) Mary lost Calais, and her 2 "pregnancies" turned out to be a huge, malignant uterine tumour. She took to her bed, sick, heartbroken, defeated. Mary declined to execute her sister, probably NOT wanting that on her record as she knew she would soon be dead. I'm not sure what she thought about all the OTHER murders she had on her craggy little hands. The best she could do regarding instruction for her successor was strongly suggest Elizabeth continue on as she had. Elizabeth only responded she would guide her country as her conscience dictated. Lonely, with profound sadness, all the while asking for her husband, Mary departed, lucid till the end.
And thus, Mary Boleyn's niece, Elizabeth was now Queen. Of course, she couldn't help her mother, Anne. BUT, she could be of great use to Mary Boleyn's children, who might of been Elizabeth's siblings as well as her cousins. And she did reward them richly! These cousins, or, er, siblings did resemble Elizabeth very much. We will have more on that later, also.