Princesses are rarely as beautiful as fairy tales like to portray them; however Mary Tudor was the exception, known to all as one of the most beautiful princesses in all of Europe. All of the Tudor children were blessed in the gene pool, with the Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville for grandparents, no wonder they turned out beautiful.
Born March 18th 1496, the youngest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Mary inherited her father’s auburn colouring and the delicate loveliness of her mother and grandmother, the shockingly radiant beauty Elizabeth Woodville. Of course one cannot expect a beautiful princess to not be inundated with countless suitors! As a little girl, Mary was betrothed to Charles of Castile, the future Holy Roman Emperor, and she would have eventually been Empress if the match had ever happened, which it (fortunately?) did not.
Instead of being married to Charles, Mary was instead shipped off to France to marry the elderly King Louis XII. At the time of the marriage, Mary was just 18 years old while Louis was 52 . . . married to a man old enough to be her father! The King was enamoured with his new, young, beautiful bride, “a Paradise—tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor” whereas the bride herself, probably was not too thrilled with her situation as the new Queen of France. You see, Mary was head over heels in love with her brother Henry’s best friend Charles Brandon – a love that was forbidden by Henry as a marriage to Brandon would not be politically advantageous as princess’ marriages needed to be. Apparently the feeling was mutual and Charles was enamoured with Mary as well. In fact Henry used Charles as a bargaining tool in Mary’s marriage to Louis – once the old man bit the dust, Mary would be free to marry anyone of her choosing.
Poor Louis didn’t last long after his wedding and he died less than 3 months later. Mary must have been a mess of emotions at this time – happiness because now she was free, sorrow at the death of her husband (I would like to believe that she felt something at the loss of her husband), fear of her future. It didn’t take long for the court to start gossiping about the dowager Queen – the rumours started that her husband died after exhausting himself pleasuring her in the royal bedchamber.
|Mary, Queen of France|
The poor young Queen locked in the Hôtel de Cluny for 6 weeks in a state of seclusion. As she’s being watched for any sign of pregnancy that could knock poor Francis I out of line for the throne. The poor Queen, bored and lonely, awaited for her Prince Charming to come and rescue her from her state of unhappiness. Enter Charles Brandon. Despite knowing Charles’ feelings and the feelings of his sister he still sent Charles to France to bring Mary back home, but before he left, Henry made Charles promise that he would not propose to her. Oops. Big mistake.
|Mary and Charles Brandon|
Being in Paris, the city of love, the two lovebirds decided to marry in secret. Definitely was not the best idea. Yeah, sure Henry did say that Mary could marry who she wanted after fulfilling her “duty” but there would be major repercussions. At least they sent Wolsey a letter in advance in hopes that he could break the news to Henry before they arrived back in England. How angry could Henry be? His favourite sister and his best friend . . . Yeah right, he was FURIOUS! How could Mary have thought that he was serious when he promised her freedom of choice for her next marriage, did she forget that she was the sister of one of the most powerful Kings in Europe? And Charles Brandon, how big of an idiot was he! To marry the sister of the King of England without permission AND in secret! Really, what kind of reaction were they expecting!?! In the end, Mary and Charles ended up having to pay a HUGE fine, but at least they both came out with their heads still attached to their bodies.
Mary died on June 25th 1533 at Westhorpe Hall in Suffolk.