February 7th, 1527: The Vicar of Hell loses an eye.

On 7th February, in 1527 Francis Bryan – or “the Vicar of Hell”, as he was otherwise known – lost his eye in the Shrove Tuesday joust. Bryan took the loss of his eye in good humour (I fucking wouldn’t), but it is thought that because of this, there are no pictures of him…but fret not, I have found one to give you a general idea, please see below, (apologies in advance). Since little is really known about Bryan’s accident, and I have unwittingly duped you into reading this article, I decided to collate a few top facts about the man, so here goes:

Bryan was one of Henry’s privy chamber, boy’s club pals, who had a reputation for being a bit of a debauched man-whore, with a silver tongue that could talk the coldest of nuns into bed. It was this ability of persuasion that made Henry rely on him so much to do his bidding.

As much as I hate everything that Francis Bryan stood for, I can’t help but like the bloke. He was a total character, and although I hate to relate anything I write about to ‘The Tudors’ TV show, (because it’s a steaming pile of shite that I seemingly only watch to give myself a rage hernia, like an absolute self-destructive bastard…*and breathe*), his character in it reminds me of the literal cock weasel from Ice Age 3, or 6 or whichever one it is.

Anyway, enough ranting – these are the reasons that Francis Bryan is a badman:

  1. He pretty much smooth talked his way in and out of any situation, because of this he was sent to Rome to sweet talk the Pope into Henry’s annulment to Bryan’s cousin, Anne Boleyn. Henry also placed such high faith in him, that he asked him to talk shit to the Pope about the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, who was incidentally his wife, Katherine of Aragon’s, nephew. Bryan cocked it up, and failed to get the Pope to agree. Now, at this point you might be thinking that he wasn’t such a great negotiator after all, but ask yourself this: How did he fail in his mission, and not only have the balls to return home, but still remain Henry’s pal, and also be the one to tell Henry that he had been excommunicated?! Cos he could talk his way out of fucking anything and everything, that’s how!

(Sidenote: Francis Bryan was so good with words that he moonlighted as a poet, undoubtedly using this skill to convince girls to hop on the good foot with him).

Which brings me swiftly onto my next Francis fact…

2. Francis Bryan was the cousin to Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard AND Jane Seymour. It’s actually not as impressive as it seems since everyone and anyone at court was related by one incestuous link or another, but to be Anne and Catherine’s kin, and remain THAT close to the King?! That just serves as yet more evidence of how canny Francis Bryan was.

Seamlessly leading onto my next fact…

3. “The Vicar of Hell”?!…How did he get such a badass nickname?’ I hear you ask. Well, in short, by being a bit of a dick. Basically, Bryan looked out for number 1, using Anne Boylen’s influence over Henry in the early days to rise up the ranks at court, and then working with Cromwell to throw her under the bus when it all went south. Not only had that, but his interest in shagging, gambling and general lewdness never went unnoticed. The term itself was apparently coined by Henry after Bryan made some gross reference about ‘ruining’ both a daughter and her mother, being akin to eating a hen and then the chicken…a comment that Henry found hysterical (because of course he did, the fat prick). Cromwell used the name to refer to Bryan in a letter to the stuffy little oink, Stephen Gardiner…and it stuck.

4. Henry, being an absolute fanny-monger himself, could not believe that his pious and loyal daughter, the Princess Mary, could be so innocent. In order to get validation, he told Francis Bryan to chat pure filth down Mary’s ear and gauge her reaction. Being no stranger to sexing up women, off he went to drip innuendos and euphemisms down the Princess’ ear; a treasonable crime should anybody else have done this, and even grimmer that it was set up by Mary’s own father. But, to everyone’s relief, it turned out that Mary had no fucking clue what Francis Bryan was on about, and thus her reputation remained intact.

5.Francis Bryan married Joan Fitzgerald, an Irish noblewoman. After her first husband’s death, Joan was planning on marrying her cousin in order to maintain the family inheritance and their hold over Ireland. However, Bryan boldly and selflessly stepped in to offer his services, marrying Joan, and securing himself the title of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. Now in all of Bryan’s years of womanising and monarchical arse-kissing, playing one person off against the next and gobshiteing around, it was his wife who caused his ultimate and final indignity. Whilst lying on his death bed, Joan fucked off hunting with her cousin Gerald. She married Gerald the following year…

Not a conclusive or exhaustive look at Francis Bryan’s life, just the highlights. Francis Bryan was indeed a massive bastard face but, credit where credit is due, he was a fucking clever one.

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25th may 1553: Lady Jane grey is forced to marry a proper dick

Today is the 463rd wedding anniversary of lady Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley. The pair were palmed off and forced to marry in 1553 by their parents, (as many were back then), in order to seek a strong claim to the throne upon the death of Edward VI. Jane was NOT happy with the arrangement; Guilford and his power hungry family were dickheads and out for their own gain, and Jane didn’t want to be queen at all, she wanted to read and prey and certainly not marry.

Guilford was a massive tosser who did little but drink and whore, whereas Jane was a refined gentle character who would have been happy in a nunnery with her books. Their marriage was a mere political convenience.

Lord_Guilford_Dudley

The absolute cockweasle that is Guilford Dudley

It came about because Jane’s mother, Francis, was next in line to the throne when Henry VIII’s only son, Edward, was king. Francis was Henry VIII’s niece, and since his two other children, (Elizabeth and Mary), had been declared bastard, she was his next kin by blood. She was a cunt too. She was an utter botch to Jane, and manipulated her through cruelty and neglect. She decided that if she could forfeit her claim to the throne (after all she had no sons so there was very little point of her inheriting the crown), it would pass to Jane and Francis and John Dudley (1st Duke of Northumberland and Guilford’s Dad), could essentially rule through their children.

Since the king was young and sickly, and Northumberland was his chief counsellor, (therefore already the most powerful man in the country), he was in prime place to notice when your Edward was past his sell by. He moved quick to get to work putting his son in the throne and secure his power, and block out Mary and Elizabeth’s claim for good (well that was the plan).

The pair were married on 25th May. The marriage was so rushed that Jane had to borrow a gown from the Royal wardrobe. Edward died in July of the same year, naming Jane as his heir (she was the same religion as him, as was his sister Elizabeth, but Edward knew that by reinstating Elizabeth’s claim to the throne would mean that the crown fell to his catholic sister, Mary. Edward did not like Catholics so left the crown to his cousin Jane). All was falling in line for Jane and Guilford’s parents.

The marriage was short and most likely unhappy, (there is little evidence to suggest otherwise but a stack to suggest there was no love lost between the two). The couple were married in the May and by the November both were dead.

jane

Lady Jane Grey

Mary came after just 9 days of Janes reign and took the throne with an army of supporters. She was after all said and done Henry VIII’s first child, and bastard or not the people would rather have seen the morally correct thing being done, than see some cheeky little bastards steal the throne… even if that ‘morally right’ thing was Mary.

Mary arrested all concerned, and promised to be forgiving to Jane as she knew none of this was her doing. In the end, what actually happened was that Francis was pardoned and Northumberland and Guilford executed at Tower Hill. It looked as though Jane would get her pardon, but since she refused to convert to the catholic faith, Mary had Janes body relived of its head. The night before their execution, Guilford asked to meet his wife for a final time. Jane refused saying it would be too distressing and they should wait to meet in heaven. I like to think she had her final revenge on Guilford, blowing him out in style and leaving him snivelling in the tower like a snot faced idiot with donated pride.

Some historians think that Mary would’ve executed Jane anyway, despite her promise of keeping Jane safe. Marys new soon-to-ben husband, Phillip of Spain, was a strong supported of the Catholic faith and wanted to see jane dead, partly because she was of the reformed faith, partly to send a message not to fuck with the Queen, but mostly because he was an utter bastard. Mary was smitten with this tit faced Pillock and desired nothing more than to marry him, so if doing away with jane was the answer then this is what she would do. Some think Mary wanted her to convert so her soul would be saved in the afterlife. Whatever the reason, Jane was so brave and headstrong that she refused to repent and was executed at the tower.

I love the tragic story of Jane Grey and Guilford Dudley. No matter what you think of Guilford, both children, (because essentially that’s what they were: Guilford was 19 and poor Jane only 17), were horrifically manipulated by their greedy parents, with dire consequences.

723px-Paul_Delaroche_-_The_Execution_of_Lady_Jane_Grey

Out of all the images that depict Tudor life and events, this is my absolute favorite. It is the execution of Jane grey painted by Paul Delaroche.