Friday, April 16, 2010

The Queen's Secret

Twas tradition for kings to have their own household, but due to this one's age it was delayed a few yrs b4 he deemed old enough to be taken away from his mother. Even as a small child there was talk of little Henry's piety, one legend having it that he threw tantrums & refused to travel on Sundays & never missed a Mass.  His mum supposedly doted on him & no doubt bored peeps to tears going awww look ain't he so precious!

Poor Kate, the Queen Mum, was a total nonentity & no one pd much attn to what she wanted, & wouldn't let her return to France or consider marrying her elsewhere.  Gloucester even introduced a bill saying the queen couldn't remarry until the little king reached his majority, & if she dared, the new DH would lose all his lands.  Wasn't nobody gonna risk THAT, even to brag about boffing a queen every night.  Edmund Beaufort, John's 20 yo grandson, had been eyeing her up, but he backed off when he got this tragickal news. 

At the time this passed Henry was only 6 yrs old & the young Queen Dowager 26, so that meant she couldn't get hitched until she was at least 38, & that was only if Sonny Boy approved!  Kate got mighty depressed & pulled the covers over her head & drummed her heels into the mattress & cursed the damned English heartily.

Soon she began eyeing up her handsome Clerk of the Wardrobe, Owen Tudor.  Owen was Welsh & in the line of descent from Rhys ap Gruffyd, King of Deheubarth in Wales back in the 1100s.  He was a page at the English court as a lad, had fought at Agincourt under Henry V, & was a part of the king's household.  He was attached to the queen's shortly after her DHs demise when peeps had to be redistributed.  Clerk of the Wardrobe doesn't necessarily imply his job was brushing dirt off those bejeweled sleeves, twas more of an overseer of the queen's stuff.  He did her accts, pd her bills, ordered things.  It wasn't a very hard job as Kate was still attached to the little king's household, so betcha he had lots of free time to start eyeing up the Queen Mum.  Kate had no say in how her son was being raised & as he got older there was a lot less Mummy & Me Time & she wasn't allowed to date, so betcha she had lots of free time to start eyeing up Owen back.  They were about the same age, not 13 yrs apart like she & DH had been.

These must have been 2 very clever peeps to have pulled off not just an affair, but the subsequent births & raising of 5 half-sibs of the little king. When Kate got pregnant (such things happen once ya start making eyes at peeps), she officially separated her household from Henry's & relocated to Wallingford Castle, where the BP used to hang when in England. 

not much left of Wallingford Castle

Tis said Owen & Kate had a seecrud wedding, but no one could ever offer any proof of it & their offspring were considered royal bastards, prolly the 1st time they ever had such a conundrum w/ a queen instead of a king.

Edmund Tudor was born when his half-bro Henry was 8 yrs old.  A yr later there was Jasper Tudor making an appearance.  The yr after THAT, here came Owen Jr.  Some fine eggs & swimmers in the mix w/ all these healthy lads, huh?  The yr after THAT, a girl, Jacina Tudor (finally some original names).  Kate's womb got a break for 2 yrs & then she had another daughter named for her good self, Catherine Tudor.  The entire queen's household had to have been in on this w/ all these crying kidlets appearing w/ great regularity, & somebody had to be taking care of em all, esp when Kate was summoned to accompany Henry to France for his coronation there as Frenchie king in all this secrecy.  Kate kept the expanding Tudor clan tucked away in the country at isolated manors & rarely went to court, but all this hiding in plain sight had to be stressful & who knew what they did if peeps unexpectedly came a-calling.  Good thing skirts were getting wider.

For a princess of France, Kate actually had a miserable life.  Her father was totally insane & her mother, Isabeau of Bavaria, a notorious whore who took lovers amongst the French nobility during DHs catatonic episodes & sighed & did her duty for France 12x over when DH was lucid & not shrieking that he was about to shatter.  Good thing, b/c #11, Charles, was the Dauphin in the Joan of Arc thing & eventually became King of France, or there would've been a real mess there & mayhap England would've taken it over after all.  Isabeau was so notorious that the Marquis de Sade actually wrote a novel about her sex life LOL

Les enfants de France were shamefully neglected the crazier Charles got & the sluttier Isabeau got, often not having enough food, firewood, or clothes.  Hardly any servants could be kept for them as no one ever knew if they'd get pd or not.  Kate was the youngest girl & envious as her older sisters Isabella, Joan, & Michelle escaped to get married & Marie leapt at the chance to join a convent.  She thought Isabella was nuts to refuse the Lancastrian marriage offer & come back to the drafty old Hotel de la St Pol in Paris where the French kidlets lived.  When Henry V came storming in like the conquering hero he was & demanded Kate's hand in marriage, it must've been like a fairytale happy ending to the princess.  Then to get stuck in England (tho twas better b/c at least she had a nice allowance & houses) after DHs demise & told she couldn't get hitched for yonks must've been irritating.

With Owen Tudor, secretly married or just shacked up, Kate finally had herself a decent family life.  So of course someone caught on & ratted them out.

Kate, pregnant again, was shoved into Bermondsey Abbey, where she later died after the premature birth of a daughter, Margaret, who didn't live long.  Ya think stress, mayhap?  Kate was 35.  Her rotten grandson Henry VII removed her tomb from Westminster Abbey b/c twas said it was an embarrassment b/c she wasn't legally married to Owen.  Yeah, well, wouldja be here usurping thrones were it not for Grandma?  Pffft.

Owen, meanwhile, was arrested & fined, tho 4 yrs later Henry VI let him out of prison & pardoned him AND gave him his fine money back!  He was accepted into the king's household & remained there until he & his head parted ways after the WOTR battle of Mortimer's Cross.  Twas said being Henry's stepdaddy & all he wasn't convinced he was really getting the axe until he was actually up on the scaffold & his last words were alleged to be, "The head which used to lie in Queen Catherine's lap will now lie in an executioner's basket".  Apparently they had baskets to keep the heads from rolling round by then.  Today you can step on him & not even notice!  There's a memorial plaque in the sidewalk in Hereford marking the spot of the execution.

The Tudor bastards were brought up as semi-royalty, & Henry was allegedly very fond of them all & gave out just enough goodies to not make peeps grumble.  Catherine became a nun & Owen Jr a monk (wonder if they caught that religious fever from Henry? LOL).  Jacina was married off to a Marcher lord, Grey of Wilton.  Jasper married rather late in life to Catherine Woodville, the widow of the Duke of Buckingham.  Edmund was married to Margaret Beaufort, Gaunt's great-granddaughter, even. Edmund demised whilst Margaret, who was just 13, was expecting, so his son (tiresomely) Henry was born posthumously.

But now we're getting too far ahead of the tale & must back up the truck to see what Henry VI is up to....

1 comment:

  1. Finally caught up reading your history in the new format. It's great. Love the pictures.