21st April, 1509: The king is Dead; Long Live the King!

At 11pm on 21st April 1509, (though some historians believe it was 22nd), King Henry VII died at Richmond Palace. His death wasn’t a surprise to anybody because he’d been ill on and off for the past two years, and had locked himself away at Richmond due to the decline of his condition. Since Henry had been away from the public eye, it was able to be kept secret for the following two days until arrangements for succession had been made.

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Henry VII’s death bed. Apparently the 2 men on the right are holding piss pots to collect his urine…and I thought my job was wank.

Henry had had a turbulent life, for starters he was born to a fierce as fuck, 13 year old Lancastrian noble girl and his father had died before his birth. Then, for a long time after that, his life was blighted by The House of York who thought Henry was a threat to their throne, (and to be fair they had a point). Prior to his ascent to the throne his life went like this: He lived in exile because of the Yorkist’s, He rallied against the Yorkist’s, he scrapped with the Yorkist’s, he killed a Yorkist king and then married a Yorkist princess.

His marriage to Elizabeth of York was said to be a happy one, despite the initial circumstances that led to their union. The idea was that when Henry kicked arse at Bosworth, and killed King Richard, the young Lancastrian king would then marry the beautiful York princess in a bid to unite the houses and end the wars…and it worked. I like to think of it like a bit of a Romeo and Juliet story, (and in my head its set to a West Side Story backdrop but with mincing Tudors instead of not very threatening New Yorkers).

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Henry VII, the Miser King and his Smokin’ hot wife, Elizabeth of York. Punched above his weight, that one.


His life settled somewhat after he had secured the throne… well I say that but  there were a couple of hiccups, and a couple of kids claiming to be Elizabeth’s long lost brothers / royal heirs to the throne which must have been awkward, but nothing he didn’t handle. He ruled successfully for 23 years, but wasn’t particularly popular with his subjects who saw him as a tight arse and a miser, but to his credit he took the country out of bankruptcy and got shit done so it goes to show you can’t have it all.

His death was announced to the Kings Garter at their annual feast of St. George on 23rd April, then publically on the 24th. The throne was left to his 17 year old son, Henry, who, despite being the polar opposite to his father and a big fat misogynistic tool, also did a pretty good job of keeping the country ticking over*.

Henry is buried next to his wife in Westminster Abbey, in a chapel of his own making. He placed the Tudor’s on the throne and started a dynasty that lasted for 118 years…Good work I’d say.

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Elizabeth of York and Henry Tudor’s tomb: they even look good in all gold.

*I had a hard time writing that sentence. I initially wanted to remain unbiased, but that was never going to happen. Then I was going to put ‘also did a pretty good job of upholding the peace’, but then I though about the break from Rome, the reformation and the total annihilation of the monasteries, let alone scrapping in Scotland and France. So I settled with ‘ticking over’…I basically just see all of them as keeping it warm until Elizabeth came to sort shit out.

 

 

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January 31st, 1547: One Out, One In.

It was January 31st, 1547 and the King, Henry VIII, had been dead for 3 days. It was now time to tell the world, and announce the new Sovereign; King Edward VI…What a shit storm this caused.

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Henry VIII and his gobshite little son, Edward VI.

Shortly before he died,even when it was obvious he was about to croak it, nobody had dared tell Henry VIII that he was on his way out. To do so would be treason, and nobody really fancied being remembered as the idiot who sent himself to the gallows. Instead, the privy council secretly making preparations – and by this I mean making power grabs for anything and everything they could get their vulture-like talons into, like a shower of cunts.

Henry’s only son and heir was about to inherit the throne, but he was only 9 and therefore vulnerable to manipulation by the Kings ‘finest’ men. Henry was on it though; prevent his one and only son becoming a puppet to the greedy bastards at court, he set up a privy council of 16 of his most trusted pals to act as governors to the young King until he came of age – which was a long way off, lets be honest.

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Henry’s deathbed: The young prince is sat next to the dying king whilst a member of the Klan looks on, (not really, its Thomas Cranmer)

It didn’t really work though; the men all had different religious and political views, and all were desperate for power. One of the main problems was that Henry’s will seemed to have been poorly thought out, and titles and lands had been handed out to peers like biscuits at your Nan’s house. This had whipped up the already over-ambitious council members into a state, and it was now apparent they needed some sort of leader. Henry had not foreseen this, and had neglected to name someone to lead of the pack of pricks he had chosen, and so something had to be done.

The council reluctantly agreed that they were incapable of aiding a small child without tearing each others faces off, and decided to appoint a leader. On 4th February the council had a vote and decided the job would be best suited to the new Kings Uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. I say  “had a vote”  but what more likely happened is that Somerset bought the men’s votes, and brokered deals to buy  power; he had after all just inherited a fuck-tonne of land from Henry’s will so had the cash to gamble with…the sneaky shit.

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Edward Seymour, the 1st Duke of Somerset: Protestant, protector, proper prick shaft.

To Somerset, becoming the Lord Protector of the Realm was the ultimate prize.It meant that he could effectively rule England for the next eight or so years, puppeteering the new King until he came of age. On paper, Somerset probably was the best placed to do the job; After all he was the King’s Uncle, a war hero, extremely wealthy AND  a staunch protestant, just like the young King himself. Obviously he accepted the position graciously.

 

There is much I could write about Somerset, and indeed his brother Tomas, who was also somewhat of a cunt, but this thread is about Henry’s succession, so you will have to take my word when I tell you that he was a massive dick-end. Needless to say met a sticky end. In 1549 he tried to abduct the King, in a fashion, and was removed from power. He was later executed in 1552 for being a massive twat (it did not say this on the execution papers – it said ‘Treason’ – but everyone knew the real reason).

What of the new king? If tales are to be believed, King Edward was a nasty little shit. Wrapped up in cotton wool and spoiled rotten,  he grew to emulate his fathers tyranny. Some even think that had he had survived his adolescence he would’ve been worse – can you fucking imagine that shit?. He apparently once ripped the head off his pet falcon because he had been scolded in the school room. He did keep the protestant faith, but was a sickly little weasel and died young, at only fifteen years old; just over a year after his Uncle’s execution, and the only time TB has ever been welcomed.

Knowing he was dying, and not wanting the country to return to Catholicism (as it would if the throne passed to his eldest surviving sibling, Mary), Edward named his cousin, Jane Grey, his successor – using the excuse that  Mary  had been declared a bastard, therefore removing her and his other sister Elizabeth from the line of succession. This went tits up too, but that too is a story for another time…

If you do fancy reading about Thomas Seymour you can check this snippet out: Tom and the Spaniel. And what of the Lady Jane Grey? Well you can read a bit about that unfortunate business here: Lady Jane marries a proper dick

January 1st, 1515: the death of Louis XII and a lucky escape for Mary.

 

Louis XII

 

New Year’s Day in 1515, King Louis XII of France died, much to the elation of Mary Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister). Henry had sent his little sister to marry the fat old king, obviously she was less than impressed about this, and asked that once he died she would be free to choose her next match. Anyway, upon Louis death Henry sent Charles Brandon (his best pal), to bring Mary home but the pair snook off and tied the knot. You can read about it here:
https://thetudorials.com/2015/05/13/13th-may-1515-how-to-piss-off-your-brother-the-king/

Louis himself had an interesting life. He had been forced to marry a woman called Joan of France by King Louis XI. Louis had no interest in Joan, their marriage was purely political.

 

poor Joan of France

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He became king purely by accident. His cousin, King Charles VIII (who had inherited the throne upon his dad, Louis XI’s, death), died after twatting his head on a doorframe like a bell end.  As Charles had no immediate heirs, Louis inherited the throne. The first thing he did was annul his marriage to Joan. He claimed it was because Joan was so deformed that he couldn’t shag her,  (Joan had a curvature of the spine and was probably mortified at her husband spreading shit about her around court and using it to mask his own inadequacy. Besides which, Louis constantly bragged about ‘mounting’ his wife several times in the night).  Joan left and became a nun (probably traumatised by the rejection and humiliation), and Louis married Charles’ widow, Anne of Brittany…as you do.

The very beautiful (and very reluctant) Anne of Brittany

Louis and Anne’s marriage produced 4 stillborn boys and 2 daughters. After Anne’s death in January 1514. By October 1514, he had married Mary Tudor in a last ditch attempt to produce a male heir. It didn’t work though because legend has it that Louis went to town shagging his new beautiful young bride, so much so that all the excitement killed him. Their marriage lasted 3 months. What an amazing start to the new year for Mary. She was forced to stay in France for a few months after Louis death incase she was carrying the future King of France. She wasn’t and the crown passed to Louis’ cousin and son-in-law King Francis I, (who later went in the wrestle the shit out of Henry VIII and totally hand his arse to him).

 

Mary Tudor: shagged a man to death

 

29th November 1530: Suicide, Illness or Divine Intervention?

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The death of Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was, at one time, Henry VIII’s right hand man. He was the Pope’s representative in England, held a ridiculous amount of power and influence, and was the second richest man in the country next to the King, (Hampton Court Palace was actually commissioned by, and built for Wolsey – not Henry VIII, as most people believe). This dude was untouchable.

He died in 1530 after what can only be described as a ‘fucking nightmare’. Henry decided that Wolsey was to blame for everything that was going wrong with Henry’s love life, and that the only way to rectify this matter was to execute him. A common and predictable theme in Henry’s life.

It all started when Henry decided he had had enough of his wife of almost 24 years, and wanted to bin her off. He had found some bullshit clause in the bible which he reckoned made his marriage to Katherine of Aragon null and void in the eyes of God. The fact that Katherine had failed to give him a male heir, and that Henry was (almost)  wetting his end in the cock-tease Anne Boylen, had driven Henry’s desire to push for this annulment. His theory was that because Katherine had been married to his brother before him, the couple were doomed for failure and living in sin in the eyes of the Catholic church. Henry now needed Wolsey to pop and see the Pope and get an annulment.

Wolsey was rather stupidly confident that he could get this sorted so off he went. The Pope inevitably said something along the lines of ‘are you fucking mental? It’s not happening my friend’ (paraphrasing slightly), so Henry’s annulment was denied. Knowing what we know about Henry, you can just imagine how this went down. To cap it off Anne was now spouting a load of bollocks about Henry wasting the best of her youth by keeping her hanging on at the promise of marriage. Henry was not a happy chappy.

The problem was that the Pope was Wolsey’s boss, so Wolsey had to do as he was told, and the Pope was in turn told what to do by his boss, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V…Katherine’s nephew. There is no way that Charles was having it that a bell end like Henry was going to screw over his fab Aunt Katy and use Gods name as an excuse to do it. Wolsey could only do as he was told, and so sided with Katherine, Charles and the Pope. It was a bit of a rock and a hard place situation for the poor bloke.

wolsey  Anne now hated Wolsey, so decided that she would chip away at Henry in order to take matters into their own hands. Henry, who was now desperate to bend it up the manipulative genius that was Anne, was all about this and so decided that Wolsey was going down. How dare he fail to get the annulment and make him look a mug!

Henry had decided that because Wolsey could not secure the annulment, had cock-blocked him from Anne and had been a bit too chummy with Katherine, he should be accused of treason. Wolsey, who was now in York, was sent for. He was to come to London to explain why he couldn’t deliver the goods (and to ultimately be put to death).

At this time Wolsey had a new best pal, a bright young thing who went by the name of Thomas Cromwell. They were travelling together to London when Wolsey took ill. He rested in Leicester and it was quickly becoming apparent that he wouldn’t be able to continue the journey. Wolsey died of a bowel infection and was laid to rest in the Abbey at Leicester. Cromwell,  gutted at the death of his friend, still carried on to London to protest Wolsey’s innocence.

The curious thing about Wolsey’s death was that it happened just before he was obviously about to walk into a massive shit storm. If Wolsey had of made it to London he would have been greeted with accusations & public ridicule; his reputation pulled to shreds by the King’s concubine, a long stretch in the Tower and ultimately a humiliating and painful execution. In a lot of ways his death was conveniently well-timed. I don’t for one minute think that Wolsey would have committed suicide: he was devout Catholic after all. So was it illness, or something else all together? What if Wolsey’s death was the act of a kind friend  sparing the Cardinal his reputation at court, and preventing his public execution?

Before coming into Wolsey’s service, Cromwell was a mercenary who had travelled extensively, fought in wars and was ultimately a freaking genius. He was a lawyer and a badass, and exceptionally loyal to Wolsey. Its not implausible to think that he could’ve poisoned the Cardinal in order to maintain his innocence. By doing this he would also ensure the cardinal was comfortable in his remaining days and still able to get his affairs in order? Now I’m just speculating and there is pretty much no evidence for this, but a man like Cromwell was well-placed to protect his friend and take away the grief and worry the Cardinal would’ve undoubtedly had felt. It would also remove the need for suicide and bowel infections are synonymous with poisoning after all.

Whether it was illness or mercy that killed Wolsey, one thing remains for sure, Cromwell deeply missed the Cardinal and maintained his innocence for the rest of his life. Of course, it was Cromwell that later brought abut the downfall of Anne Boylen, and what happened to Henry in all of this? Well he just carried on being Henry.

 

If you fancy reading a bit more about Cromwell give this one a go: A Massive Fall Out