Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday in History: Tudor Nuptials

Sisters are almost as good for political marriages as daughters are. But they’re harder to manage if they’re Tudors. Henry VIII had two sisters: Mary and Margaret. Margaret had already been married off to the King of Scotland by the time Henry was in charge, but since Mary was several years younger, it was up to Henry to marry her off.
Mary was fourteen when Henry took the throne, a very impressionable age to be in the early court of Henry VIII. She absorbed all the romantic gallantry of the time, delighting in the fond gestures which Henry paid to Catherine of Aragon. Because this formed a foundation in her young mind, Mary was determined to marry for love herself. When she was eighteen, however, Henry enthusiastically told her that she was going to marry the fifty-three year old King of France.
But Mary was a Tudor. She wasn’t pleased, but she didn’t cry, or throw a fit, or even say no. She knew a political marriage was her duty. So she made a pact with her brother that he could choose her first husband, but that she would choose her second. Henry fondly patted her on the head with a “sure, kid, whatever you want,” and sent her off to France.
On this day in history in 1514, Mary Tudor was married to Louis XII. And not even three months later, she was a widow. Louis hadn’t been assassinated, nor had he been ill. He just had a very young, beautiful wife who threw lots of excessive parties. All the time. (One of my favorite professors used to say that Mary “danced him into the grave.”)
Henry was saddened by the loss of his brother in law, and was already planning his sister’s next politically advantageous match when she arrived home already married. Why wed some stodgy monarch when you’d rather marry your brother’s hot best friend? Henry eventually forgave them both, after all, it was his best friend, and Mary was his favorite sister. And it was really his fault for forgetting that he was dealing with a Tudor.

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