Monday, October 20, 2008

A Second Unrealized Tudor Match

As I revealed in my last post, François's sister Marguerite d'Angoulême was offered as a child bride to the young Henry VIII of England. Fortunately for her, perhaps, she was rejected. Another match between the Tudors and the Valois--this one between François's second son, Henri, and Henry VIII's first daughter, Princess Mary--came much closer to fruition.

Mary was three years older than Henri, and discussions regarding the union of the two royal children grew serious around 1530, while the young prince was being held hostage by Charles V in Spain [subject for a post of its own]. The Peace of Cambrai (1529), which secured the ransom of François's sons, included a clause affirming the French-English marriage. But in October 1530, negotiations with England stalled, for two reasons: François suspected Henry VIII intended to use Henri as security for the debt François owed him, and secondly, questions over Mary's legitimacy were beginning to cloud the issue. Henry VIII was by this time seeking an annulment of his marriage with Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon, and François feared marrying his son to a bastard. Negotiations did continue until 1532, but once the outcome of Henry VIII's suit became evident, François abandoned the match. Instead, he wed Henri in 1533 to Caterina Maria de Medici, the cousin (often called the niece) of Pope Clement VII. 

How would the match between Henri and Mary, had it occurred, have changed history? It's interesting to speculate. It doesn't seem as though it would have derailed Henry VIII from his quest to rid himself of Catherine of Aragon, since he continued with his suit even as he negotiated with France. What is interesting is what would have happened once Henri became Dauphin. At the time of the negotiations, he was only second in line to the French throne. However, his older brother François died in 1536. The couple would eventually have ruled both France and England. This surely would have had great repercussions on the playing out of the religious question in the two countries.

[Source: Henry II, King of France 1547-1559 by Frederic Baumgartner (Duke UP, 1988)]

6 comments:

cindy said...

fascinating. ah, there is no love lost between the french and english, but they married amongst themselves often, no? to try and not kill each other all the time. haha!

Tess said...

And didn't Henri eventually marry Mary, Q of S? How would English/Scottish history have been changed had Mary not gone to France to live and maybe been brought up in her native land and married differently?

Julianne Douglas said...

Cindy--What you say, jokingly, is very true. Marriage was often a way to preclude war and ensure allies (although political peace did not always entail peace on the home front!).

Tess--You're quite right about the importance of Mary, Queen of Scots being brought up at the French court. However, Henri never married her. He betrothed his four year old son, François to the six year old Mary in 1548, and brought her to the safety of the French court until the two were old enough to marry. (Henry VIII was dying to get his hands on her in order to marry her to his son Edward and claim Scotland for England.) Mary wed François 1558. Henri died suddenly in 1559, making François king at the age of fifteen. But he and Mary had only been ruling France for a little over a year when François himself died in 1560 and Mary returned to Scotland. He died of an ear infection that turned into a brain abcess--imagine how history would have been different if they'd only had penicillin!

Catherine Delors said...

Julianne, did you see there's a Marie Stuart exhibition right now at the Chateau d'Ecouen? I am going to post on it whenever I have a sec.

cindy said...

it was the same with anne boleyn. her stay in the french courts was what made her so beguiling and fashionable, then that was used against her when she fell out of favor with henry.

Julianne Douglas said...

Catherine, no I didn't know about the exhibition. Please post about it, especially if you visit. The chateau d'Ecouen and its Renaissance museum is such a magnificent place.

Cindy--yes, I'm sure Anne B learned a LOT during her stay at the French court. Although I tend not to agree with historians who paint Francois's court as such a lascivious, amoral place. Much of that view comes from the writings of Brantome, who lived a generation later and whose recollections are not entirely trustworthy. I think he definitely spiced things up a bit for his readers.