Duchess of SUFFOLK


Of all that breathes and is conscious
there is nothing that is more to be pitied than we, women.
Euripide, Médée, vv. 230-231


Jean Bourdichon
Les Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne
entre 1503 et 1508


The exact date of the birth of Mary Tudor, the fifth child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, is not recorded. It is assumed that she was born March 18, 1496, according to a note in her mother's psalter which there is no good reason to doubt. This psalter remains in Exeter College Library in Oxford. The date of Mary's birth is also indicated by the authorisation of a payment of 50s by Privy Seal bill to the child's nurse, Anne Shenan, at Michaelmas 1496, suggesting that she was engaged in the spring.

Her full name is (too) often confused with her niece, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, The Bloody Mary, or Mary the Catholic, Queen of England from 1552 to 1558.

Her mother, Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), known as Bessie, was the daughter of Edward IV of York and Elizabeth Woodville. Her marriage, January 18, 1486, with King Henry VII Tudor symbolically ended the War of the Roses. She died six years before Henry VII, exhausted by many pregnancies. She had eight children of whom only three survived her. Edmund and Catherine died before 1 year, 3 years to Elizabeth, Arthur at 15. Only survived Margaret, Henry and Mary.


Arthur Tudor

Margaret Tudor

Henry VIII adolescent



She died the day of his 37th birthday, due to puerperal infection, nine days after giving birth to Catherine Tudor, born and died the same day, February 2, 1503.
It is the only English Queen to have been a wife, daughter, sister, niece and mother to English kings.

Her father, Henry VII Tudor (1456-1509) (King of England from 1485) was :
- The son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond and Margaret Beaufort (1509 †)
- The grand-son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois († 1456) (widow of Henry V, King of England † 1422), daughter of Charles VI the Mad King of France and Isabeau of Bavaria who had 12 children

When Edward IV of England, Duke of York, regained the throne in 1471, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the last man of the branch of Lancaster, fled to Brittany, where he spent most of the next fourteen years, until 1485. There he learned the Breton language.

Sir Roland de Vieilleville or Velville (1474 - 25 June 1535) was thought to be an illegitimate son of King Henry VII of England by "a Breton lady". In 1509, he was appointed Constable of Beaumaris Castle in Wales, a position he held till his death. He was knighted in 1497
By his wife born Agnes Griffith, he had a daughter, Jane Velville, who became the wife of Tudor ap Robert Vychan. Jane Velville and her husband in turn were the parents of Katherine of Berain, commonly referred to as "the mother of Wales".

The future Henry VII was 28 when he arrived in France, Antoine Le Viste (the sponsor of The Lady and the Unicorn) was about 15 years.

Armes royales Tudor - 1486 - British Library

Angels hold the coat of arms of Henry VII, bearing fleur-de-lys and lions and surmounted by a crown.
The border is decorated with stylised representations of flowers.
The red and white roses represent the royal houses of York and Lancaster.
The white greyhound and red dragon are symbols of Henry VII.
From an elegiac poem in Latin in praise of Henry VII and in celebration of the birth of Prince Arthur.


House of Tudor Coat of Arms


Historians of Mary, our Lady, granted her the obstinate character of the Tudors. Her first and only act of defiance was undoubtedly her marriage with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, (perhaps) against the will of her brother Henry VIII. She applied her motto : God's will is sufficient for me.

Back in England, in the shadow of History, she reappears in great ceremonies : at the Court receptions, in The Field of Cloth of Gold. The painful episode of his granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, recalls her to the memory of the historians.

Her biographer Walter C. Richardson (Boyd Professor of History at Louisiana State University), presents her as an honest, morally upright in all her actions (Mary Tudor, The White Queen, published by Peter Owen, London, 1970).

Desiderius Erasmus saw Mary child. To a friend, he relates in a letter his arrival to the palace of Greenwich :

"… the royal nursery moved to Eltham, where Mary received most of her early education. There in the late spring or early summer of 1499 her second memorable experience occurred when she met Erasmus, later to be so intimately associated with the growing humanism of the English Renaissance. He had been persuaded to come to England by William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, a former pupil of his in Paris ; while staying at Mountjoy's house in Greenwich he was visited by Thomas More, who took him to Eltham Palace nearby to see the King's children. They were all there, Erasmus writes, except Arthur, who by tint time had his own household elsewhere. His account of the meeting is interesting in that he gives both his impression of the future Henry VIII, and a definite assertion of Mary's age which must have come from More :

" When we carne into the hall, attendants not only of the palace, but also of Mountjoy's household, were all assembled. In the midst stood Prince Henry, now nine years old, and having already something of royalty in his demeanour in which there was a certain dignity combined with singular courtesy. On his right was Margaret, about eleven years of age, afterwards married to James, King of Scots ; and on his left played Mary, a child of four. Edmund was an infant in arms…"

Erasmus then went to London to write, at Prince Henry's request, a panegyrical poem in praise of England, which he presented to the boy with a respectful dedication." (p. 16)

Haec niuei tantum fastigia protulit oris,
Sensim at dehiscens turgidos rumpit sinus.

Here's another which reveals its snowy tip,
And slowly breaks his turgid calyx.

Frank Cadogan Cowper - The New Learning - v. 1910
Erasmus (right) and Thomas More visit the children of Henry VII at Greenwich in 1499.
Une One of six paintings executed in 1910 for "The Houses of Parliament" in London

Erasmus Mary sings in Latin, in his Ode to tell the merits of England's King Henry VII and the royal children of 1499, after his visit to the nursery of the royal palace of Henry VII. A few distiches later, he continues :


Nescio quid Maria praeclari spondet ab ipso
Nunquam occidentis syderis cognomine.

I do not know what Mary will do with her illustrious name
From a star that never goes down.


Mary, between Margaret and Henry

In November, 1498, Mary received her first proposal of marriage. This offer came from Milan, whose duke, Ludovico Sforza, Il Moro, requested her hand for his son, Massimiliano, the Count of Pavia. An Anglo-Milanese alliance would then have been most advantageous to Il Moro, since Italy was under threat of another French invasion by Louis XII, who had just acceded to the throne and was preparing to make good his claim to Milan. Henry's refusal was courteous but firm.

Mary's education was interrupted in 1508 by her betrothal and proxy marriage to Prince Charles of Castile, son of Philip of Burgundy and Joanna of Spain, which took place after over eight years of difficult bargaining. Owing to Charles's youth, consummation of the union was postponed for another four years, after which the Princess was to be delivered to her husband at the Court of his aunt Margaret, Regent of the Netherlands.


In 1514, these long engagement to Mary with the future Charles V are interrupted by Henry VIII. A separate peace treaty is signed with France in which the marriage of Mary with Louis XII is stipulated.

According to a Venetian account, calling for a young hawk to be brought to him the Prince Charles began methodically to pluck it alive, feather by feather. When his startled councilors remonstrated he answered bitterly : " Thou asketh me why I plucked this hawk ! He is young you see, and has not yet been trained, and because he is young he is held in small account, and because he is young he squeaked not when I plucked him. Thus have you done by me : I am young, you have plucked me at your good pleasure, and because I was young I knew not how to complain, but bear in mind that for the future I shall pluck you. " Is the story true or not ?

Louis XII wants a son more than anything ! Why does he not remarry for a third time ?
Pope Leo X thinks that marriage to oppose the occupation of Italy and the dismemberment of the Papal States by Austria and Spain. T
he idea is to reconcile France and England through his legate Wolsey, Cardinal of York, chaplain and councilor of Henry VIII.

Mary advantageously replace, for the gain of France, a war in alliance with the Emperor Maximilian and King Ferdinand of Aragon-Castile ! England would gain in security that France should "keep one foot in the boot of Italy" .... and this marriage brought Thérouanne, Tournai and one million of ecus to the English crown !

Among the five women selected, Louis XII chooses to marry Mary, especially after contemplating the portrait of Mary painted by Jean Perréal !

The Lady … and Mary TUDOR BRANDON

The Tast


anonymous artist

The Smell

The Hearing

attributed to Jean Perréal
Musée des Arts Décoratifs - Paris

The Sight

Drawing of Mary Tudor, 1514-1515
in mourning for Louis XII
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

The Touch -The Tent

Detail of the portrait of marriage
with Charles Brandon,
Duke of Suffolk


In August 1514, Wolsey negotiates an alliance with France : England keeps the city of Tournai, and the sister of Henry VIII, the lovely Mary, aged eighteen, becomes the third wife of King of France, Louis XII.

While England's former allies were trying to foresee her next move, the marriage by proxy between Mary and Louis took place publicly at Greenwich on August 13, 1514, in the presence of the King and Queen and all the Court. Wolsey and Suffolk were there, with Norfolk, Dorset, Buckingham, and the principal earls of the realm. For furthering the cause of France, Wolsey and Suffolk had been rewarded by Louis with pensions, which Francis I continued to honor for the first five years of his reign. Suffolk received 875 livres tournois per year, a substantial sum for a young man without church, family, or social connections to recommend him. Wolsey, who received three times this sum, had the backing of the Papacy from whom he was soon to inveigle a cardinalate.

Her contemporaries are full of praise about her : for a Venetian ambassador, she is a paradise ! She is tall, blonde, fair skin and colored, very affable, gracious, "she looks like a nymph come down from heaven". Her manners are delicious, both in conversation and in dance. She can sing, play the lute and harpsichord.

Jehan Perréal painted her in England, where Louis XII sent him.

On August 13, 1514, takes place the betrothal ceremony. The dignitaries assembled in the Great Banquet Hall at Greenwich early in the morning, three hours before the royal party arrived. In silk and cloth of gold, the English lords waited ; around them the walls were hung with arras of gold, laced with an embroidered frieze emblazoning the royal arms of France and England.

Henry and Catherine led the bridal group, Mary and her ladies immediately preceding the French delegation. The King of France was represented by Louis d'Orléans, Duc de Longueville, aided by two ministers especially sent to England for the peace conference, John de Silva, President of Normandy, and the French general, Thomas Boyer. Papal envoys were present but the Spanish ambassador, if invited, disdained to come. The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, presided, assisted by Wolsey and the senior English lords.

The ceremony opened with a Latin address by Warham, to which De Silva made the formal reply that his master, the Most Christian King, was desirous of taking the Lady Mary to wife. The French authorization for the proxy marriage, read by the Bishop of Durham, was followed by the espousal per verba de praesenti ; holding Mary's right hand in his, De Longueville spoke Louis's vows in French, to which she replied in the same tongue ; the ring was placed on the fourth finger of her right hand, the kiss given, and the marriage schedule signed. It was very reminiscent of her first proxy marriage six years earlier, which the same Archbishop had pronounced just as 'holy.'

A bizarre symbolism, supposed to add irrevocability to the union was then enacted : Mary changed from her wedding gown into an elaborate nightdress, while De Longueville, clad in doublet and red hose to match her 'magnificent deshabillé', bared one leg to the thigh ; theoretically prepared for sexual relations, they lay down together long enough for him to touch her body with his naked leg, after which Warham declared the marriage consummated."

All thought of war was forgotten in the fever of preparation for Mary's departure, and she was the distinguished guest at many entertainments and celebrations in her honor.
Her trousseau was again superb, though some of the clothing and equipment bought for her abortive journey to the Netherlands must have been used. For the second time in a few months Henry provided lavishly and deliberately for his sister, the worth of her personal wardrobe being estimated at more than £43,300. Several items suggest that, where possible support was given to home industry, as the £10 13s. 4d. for hose and the £84 19s. 6 ½ d. paid to John Ring, the royal skinner, for the furring of a dozen gowns by order of the King's Council ; since English cloth was not esteemed because the colors were poor, expensive imported fabrics were mostly used.

Among the beautiful hangings and tapestries from Brussels were seven special pieces representing the story of Hercules. Sixteen of her gowns including the wedding dress were in the French fashion, six were in Milanese style, and seven in English, each with its own chemise, girdle, and accessories, Many of the accounts of workmen employed in procuring and working up the raw materials have been preserved ; tailors, embroiderers, hosiers, cordwainers, 'casemakers', chariot makers, bedmakers, saddlers, painters, seamstresses, spangle workers, and gold-wire drawers all did their part in making Mary's trousseau a fitting one for the Queen of France.

Her jewelry was of equally royal quality : gold chains and bracelets, carcanets of diamonds and rubies, pearled aiguillettes, golden, gem-studded frontlets, brooches, rings, medallions, and fleur-de-lis ornaments. Her servants' uniforms, her chapel fixtures, and her great seal and privy seal all proclaimed her rank while painted panels spelled out her motto in letters of gold : " La volonté de Dieu me suffit ". Mary Tudor was sent forth with ail the trappings of royalty.


her signature and seal - British Museum


"Mary the french quene"


Coat of arms of Mary, Queen of France


Louis XII, previously old and broken, tried, with gifts and loving care, to forget his age to the princess. The day of the wedding, he gave her a very beautiful diamond with a ruby over two inches long, estimated at ten thousand "marcs", and the next day another ruby two and a half inches long, large as a finger, suspended at each end to a chain of gold. The next day he gave her a beautiful diamond from which hung a large round pearl.
He had of a gout attack which kept him several days in Abbeville, and Mary did not leave him for a moment.
"She is always with him, told the ambassadors in their letter to the King of England, and done for him what can a woman do to her husband."


In a foreign country ...

" Louis's previous queen had earlier undermined his authority with a household of Breton attendants, and with this still rankling in his memory he summarily dismissed almost all Mary's English staff, including Lady Guildford. Sister of Sir Nicholas Vaux, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, Joan Guildford was the widow of Sir Richard Guildford, controller of the household and trusted friend of Henry VII. As a "protégée" of the Countess of Richmond she had served the family for a long time, first as Mary's governess and now as her chief Lady of Honor. Affectionately called "Mother Guildford", she was not only the senior of all the Queen's ladies-in-waiting but her mentor and bosom companion as well. Her affection for and complete dependence upon Lady Guildford, rather than anger at the King's initiative, were the real reasons for Mary's alarm.

Hans Holbein the Younger - Mary, Lady Guildford
1527 - Art Museum of Saint Louis

As first related to Henry and Wolsey, this action had the appearance of a personal affront to Mary, and if such were really so was grounds for formal protest to be lodged. Mary herself was both indignant and frightened. Visions of being in a foreign country attended by no mature woman whom she could trust appalled her. Understandably she spilled out her grief to Henry, the appeal not of a queen but of a lonely, homesick sister :

" My good Brother, as heartily as I can I recommend me unto your Grace, marvelling much that I never heard from you since our departing, so often as I have sent and written unto you. And now am I left most alone in effect, for on the morn after marriage my chamberlain and all other men servants were discharged, and in like wise my mother Guildford with other my women and maidens, except such as never had experience nor knowledge how to advertise or give me counsel in any time of need, which is to be feared more shortly than your grace thought at the time of my departing, as my mother Guildford can more plainly shew your Grace than I can write, to whom I beseech you to give credence. And if it may be by any mean possible I humbly require you to cause my said mother Guildford to repair hither once again. For else if any chance hap other than weal I shall not know where for by whom to ask any good counsel to your pleasure nor yet to mine own profit.

I marvel much that my lord of Norfolk would at all times so lightly grant everything at their request here. I am well assured that when you know the truth of everything as my mother Guildford can shew you, ye would full little have thought I should have been thus intreated ; that would God my lord of York [Wolsey] had come with me in the room of Norfolk ; for then I am sure I should have been left much more at my heartsease than I am now. And thus I bid your Grace farewell with . . . [letter mutilated] as ever had Prince : and more heartsease than I have now. [I beseech] give credence to my mother Guildford.
By your loving sister,
Mary, Queen of France
[Abbeville, October 12, 1514]

Obviously Mary was afraid that Louis might die unexpectedly, leaving her stranded in France at the mercy of Louise of Savoy and Francis, both of whom she was soon to have every reason to distrust."

Mary, Virgini pariturae, the Virgin who must give birth. The king wanted a son ! At the entrance of Mary in Paris, the last show before the door of the royal castle represented France as a garden where were sitting the king and the queen ; above included a scene of the Annunciation.

Gabriel : ... ecce concipies in utero et paries filium ... Mary : ... ecce ancilla Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.





Some presences of lilies on clothing or objects belonging to the Lady

* * *

Rapid death of Louis XII and her decision to marry (and getting married by) Charles Brandon in Cluny even be saved her from premature death due to multiple pregnancies and difficult childbirth. However, after having given birth to three children, she died in 1533 at age 37. Very young !

Widow, she has not played a prominent political role as Margaret of Austria and Louise of Savoy, but she did not have the tragic end of Crazy Jane, Catherine of Aragon, Isabella of Austria and Marie Stuart.

Letter from Mary to Henry VIII of March 6, 1515
British Museum

On the death of Louis XII, Mary refused to be again "sacrificed for reasons of state", that many princesses have accepted "without apparent revolt". Her tenacity, her courage and insight, love of a brother yet ruthless, have allowed her to escape the fate thus invoked by Bartolome Bennassar : "among women of past centuries, queens and princesses often counted among the victims more pitiful. " (Le Lit, le Pouvoir et la Mort, Reines et Princesses d'Europe de la Renaissance aux Lumières, Editions de Fallois, 2006)

In the solitude and the darkness of her quarantine at Cluny, the example of her sister in law, Catherine of Aragon, (rootlessness far from her native country, remarriage to his brother Henry after Arthur's death, three stillbirths and premature deaths of two infants from 1510 to 1514), showed her the way of salvation. " But only a few young women found themselves in a position to really rebuild their destiny. "


D'après Jean Perréal, Mary Tudor Brandon
Florence, musée des Offices,
Cabinet des Dessins et Estampes, inv. 3911 F.



Here are poems dedicated to Mary, written by Friar Loys Du Bois or Silvius, a Benedictine monk of Le Mans, of the abbey of La Couture. He called himself "Philologus", as unusual in the early sixteenth century. He had to travel, he wrote in Latin, Italian and Spanish. He died in 1517.

* * *

Sonetto di messer Lodovico Silvio Mauro, philologo di Cenomanese, alla regina Maria Anglesche, vidua, in la lingua italica toscana.

Fuge el consortio d'ogni altro animale,
Di fede armata e cincta di pietà,
La tortora che perso el compagno ha,
Nè al verde ramo più stende sua ale.

Vede a natura quanto fede cale
Se un cor sanza razon solitar sta
Privo d'ogni piacer, Amor che fa
Che'l nodo conjugal poi morte vale ?

Se in generoso pecto geme el core
Qual deste ad un che tene priva morte,
Sostentilo l'onesto e sacro amore

A viver comme vol tua dura sorte,
Non si da palma mai sanza labore.
Di pudicitia sal Lucretia forte.

E Penelope acorte,
Molte altre troverai. Lege questa opra
Che tua viduità di virtù copra.

Fra Lodovico Silvio

* * *

Lamentacion de la muy alta Maria Inglese, reyina de Francia,
infortunada biuda ; fecha e compuesta en lengua castellana o espágnola.

O Muerte perversa, dy por quales leyies
Pudiste y quisiste biuda dexar
Rreyina tam noble y tan singular,
Hija y muger y hermana de rreyies ?

O grave dolor ! O tristes tricteczas !
O Muerte maligna, dexaras segura
Tan sublime rreyina de tanta hermozura,
De tan gran linage, de tantas riqueczas !

Altas caidas no suelen venir.
Si no a altas personas y grandes estados ;
Mas los coraczones modestos templados
Con patientia suelon sus males sufrir.

Por esso, muy linda, muy noble, excellente,
Magnifica, bella, casta, benigna,
Infelice, reyna soys de mas bien digna,
Quanto biuda os monstrais mas prudente.

(in Emile PICOT, Les Français italianisants au XVIè siècle, Tome 1, Burt Franklin, New York, 1968)



Mary Tudor as Queen of France
drawn in late 1514 by an unknown artist
the only authentic likeness
Ashmolean Museum - Oxford



Tapestry in Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent.

"Hever Castle tapestry depicting the marriage of Louis XII of France and Mary Tudor" on website Pinterest.

"Flemish 16th century tapestry of the weddding of Mary Tudor" on website


House of Mary of England in October - Décember 1514
(BNF ms. fr. n. a. 9175 - folios 365-366)

from Caroline zum Kolk, La Maison des reines de France au 16e siècle. Nobles, officiers et domestiques (1494-1590), Paris, Cour de, 2007. Base de données mise en ligne le 19 décembre.



in "livres tournois"
Anthon, Jacques de
Chaplain and confessor
Aumont, Claude de
Bernay, Jeanne
Ladies and misses
Bernay, Yolande
Ladies and misses
Bester, Françoise de
Ladies and misses
Blond, Richard
Esquire Stable
Bordeaux, François de
Sr de la Poissoniere
Boulonne, Marie
Ladies and misses
Cerisay, Nicolas,
Sr de la Rivière
Chavigny, Guyonne de,
Ladies and misses
Clinthon, Thomas
Valet for cutting
Entremont, Anthoine de,
dit le Poulain
Gamaches, Jean de,
Sr de Jussy, chevalier
Head waiter
Gauthelin, Guillaume
Gerengain, Jeanne
Ladies and misses
Gray, Edward
Valet for cutting
Gray, Isabelle
sœur du marquis d'Angleterre
Ladies and misses
Gray, Isabelle
Ladies and misses
Gray, Richard
frère du marquis d'Angleterre
Jean, Thomas
Esquire Stable
La Riviere, Jeanne de
Ladies and misses
La Tour, Anne de,
vicomtesse de Turenne
Ladies and misses
La Vallée, Anne de
Ladies and misses
Maillé, Françoise de,
dame d'Aumont
governess of the Queen
1 200
Menypeny, Alexandre de
Sr de Concressault
Head waiter
Menypeny, Anne de
dame d'Oyson
Ladies and misses
Pol, Arthus
Rochechouart, Françoise de
Ladies and misses
Vallap, Jean
Valet for cutting



Charles BRANDON,

duke of SUFFOLK,_1st_Duke_of_Suffolk

Born around 1484, Charles Brandon is a "managed" whose father, William Brandon, was killed during the War of the Roses, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, according to the chronicle by Richard III himself.
Around 1494, an orphan, he became the companion of Prince Arthur and Henry, both sharing their mutual passion for hunting, horseback riding, the jousting, the game of tennis and all physical activities of future warriors.
From 1515, Charles Brandon was, after Wolsey, the most influential politician in England. His career was the prototype of the new aristocracy that emerged through greater social mobility; his ascension, like that of many companions of Henry VIII, was rapid, favors arriving almost automatically and frequently without being solicited.

by an unknown artist

Favorite Courtesan of Henry VIII, he was created Duke of Suffolk in 1514 by inheriting title and lands confiscated from Edmund de la Pole, "White Rose", imprisoned for seven years at the Tower of London and executed in 1513 for Yorkists sympathies of the family. Charles Brandon became one of the most important three peers and one of the richest landowners in the country.


His wives

1- Élisabeth Grey (1513-1515)
2- Margaret Mortimer
3- Anne Browne (? - 1511)
4- Marie d'Angleterre (1515-1533)
5- Catherine Willoughby (1533-1545)

His progeny

In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, at the entrance "Brandon", Steven Gunn writes : "In early 1508, he secretly married Anne Browne in the church of Stepney, and then publicly in St. Michael Cornhill. Between 1506 and 1509, they had a daughter, Anne, whose legitimacy was questioned later depending on the accuracy of events. Iin the summer of 1510, their second daughter, Mary, undeniably legitimate, was born. Anne Browne died shortly after. At that time or later, Brandon was also the father of three "bastards", Charles, later Sir Charles Brandon Sigston (d. 1551), Mary, who married Robert Ball of Scottow, and Frances, who married successively William and Andrew Sandon Bilsby. "

— With Anne Browne
1. Anne Brandon (c.1506/1509 - 1511)
2. Mary Brandon
(1510 - v.1542)

Mary, Lady Monteagle - daughter of Charles Brandon and Anne Browne
She married Sir Thomas Stanley, 2nd Lord Monteagle.

— Various sources suggest that Charles Brandon had "illegitimate" children
1. Charles, married Elizabeth, widow of Sir James Strangways (1410-1480)
2. Frances married h William Sandon, then Andrew Bilsby
3. Mary, married Robert Ball of Scottow,

— With Mary of England, Queen Dowager of France
1. Henry Brandon (March 11, 1516 to 1522)
2. Frances Brandon (July 16, 1517 - November 20, 1559), who married Henry Grey, 3rd Marquess of Dorset and Duke of Suffolk, and Adrian Stokes as his second wife. She is the mother of Lady Jane Grey.
3. Eleanor Brandon (1519 - September 27, 1547), who married Henry Clifford, 2nd Earl of Cumberland.
4. Henry Brandon (1522 - March 1, 1534) created the first Earl of Lincoln in 1525.

— With Catherine Willoughby (c. 1519 - 1580)
On the death of Charles Brandon, she married, about 1553, Richard Bertie, son of Thomas and Bertie Aline Say.
1. Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk (18 September 1535 - 14 July 1551)
2. Charles Brandon, 3rd Duke of Suffolk (1537 - 14 July 1551)


Katherine Willoughby
Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
Duchess of Suffolk

Henry Brandon (1535-1551)
2nd duke of Suffolk
Hans Holbein - 1541
Royal Collection - Windsor Castle

Charles Brandon (1537-1551)
3rd duke of Suffolk
Hans Holbein - 1541
Royal Collection - Windsor Castle

Charles Brandon's life is told in the book of Steven J. Gunn, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1988.


Mary Tudor and Francis of Angoulême

The relationship between Francis of Angouleme (which is not yet king) and Mary were highly colored by fantasies based only on the rumor of the Court and on contemporary suppositions.
Walter Richardson categorically rejects the allegation (repeated ad nauseam since Brantome talked about of them) that Mary wished at any price a male child and she was ready to take a lover to do. The charge is neither logical nor realistic nor supported by the facts, but only explained by the jealous zeal of Louise of Savoy, who wants to protect the throne promised to her son.

Walter Richardson writes pages 138-139 :

" Mary herself was probably unaware of the diplomatic implications of her relationship with Francis ; she only knew that his attitude toward her was different. While publicly as courteous and urbane as ever, still calling her his "belle mere", privately his behavior had changed. Professing his loyalty to her and his intention of paying her dower in full, he promised Henry complete fidelity, "that he would neither do her wrong, nor suffer her to take wrong of any other person, and to be to her as a loving son should be to his mother" ; to Mary he pledged continued friendship, asking her to write to her brother "how lovingly he had behaved to her." Just how loving he was Mary never divulged, though she does refer to his frequent visits to Cluny. When asked about his treatment of her since Louis's death, she replied "that he had been in hand with her of many matters", but that on hearing of Suffolk's arrival he bad promised "that he would trouble her no more with no such matter", begging her to tell neither the ambassador for her brother of his proposals, lest Henry should take "unkindness there in". She gave this explanation to the English ministers on the fifth of February, 1515, during their first conversation with her after reaching Paris, later telling Suffolk privately that "from the first the King was importunate with her in divers matters not to her honour". The statements are Suffolk's version of what she said, and reveal less than do her own words written to Henry ten days later :

"Pleaseth it your Grace, the French King on Tuesday night last [past] came to visit me, and [had] with me many divers [discours]ing among the which he demanded me whether I had [ever] made any promise of marriage in any place, assuring me upon his honour, upon the word of a prince, that in case I would be plain [with] him in that affair he would do for me therein to the best of his power, whether it were in his realm or out of the same. Whereunto I answered that I would disclose unto him the [sec]ret of my heart in hu[mility] as unto the prince of the world after your Grace in which I m[ost trust], and so de[clared into him] the good mind [which] for divers consi[derations I] bear to my lord of Suffolk, asking him not only [to grant] me his favour and consent thereunto, but [also] that he would of his [own] hand write unto your Grace and pray you to bear your like favour unto me and to be content with the same. The which he granted me to do, and so hath done…
Sir, I most humbly beseech you to take this answer which I have [made u]nto the French King in good part, the which I [did] only to be discharge[ed of th]e extreme pain and annoyance I was in [by reason] of such suit as [the French Ki]ng made unt[o me not accord]ing with mine honour, [the wi]ch he hath clearly left [off]. Also, Sir, I feared greatly [lest in] case that I had kept the matter from his knowledge that he might not have well entreated my said lord Suffolk, and the rather [for] to have returned to his [former] malfantasy and suits.

She added in a postscript that if Henry refused her request of a choice of husband, Francis might "renew his suits". Her extreme distaste for such an eventuality was near despair : "I would rather be out of the world than it should so happen."

For his part, Francis, although he could think (some claim) of divorce Claude already pregnant and married Mary, could only encourage Mary to marry Brandon, removing the possibility to Henry VIII of concluding an alliance with a potential adversary of France.


The marriage of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

The documents have been fairly silent on the relationship between Mary and Charles before her departure for France. Charles's name was linked to other women, but not that of Mary. The only records of any relationship are vague references to an attachment between them they confessed in their retrospect letters written to Wolsey and Henry from Paris.

" That Mary knew how to handle her brother, her letters show, though occasionally she overdid the flattery or overstepped the bounds of propriety in addressing him, so that Wolsey, who read most of her correspondence before it reached Henry, was forced to tone down some of her remarks. Mostly, however, her story supplemented Brandon's and was an appeal not so much for herself as for her husband, whose very life was at stake.

She thanked the King for sending her such able agents as Suffolk and his associates to comfort her "in her heaviness" and assist her in obtaining her dower. To them she was the soul of meekness and cooperation. "She said she was an unkind sister if she should not follow your mind and pleasure in every behalf", they reported to Henry, "for there was never princess so much beholden to her sovereign and brother as she is to your Grace." She had no desire to stay in France ; rather every day seemed to her like an eternity until she could get back to England and her brother. As for marrying a foreigner without his approval "she never would [but rather] suffer the extremity of death." To Henry she kept reverting to his promise to her, on the word of a king, when they parted at Dover. The responsibility for their hasty action, she persisted in saying, was all hers and owed nothing to any persuasion on Brandon's part, her letters reflecting a natural impulse to shield the man she loved. The restraint and sincerity of her explanation are marked :

" Sir, I will not in any wise deny but that I have offended your Grace, for the which I do put myself most humbly in your clemency and mercy. Nevertheless to the intent that your Highness should not think that I had simply, carnally or of any sensual appetite done the same, I having no regard to fall in your Grace's displeasure, I assure your Grace that I have never done [without your] ordinance and consent, but by the reason of the great despair wherein I was put…
Whereupon, Sir, I put my Lord of Suffolk in choice whether he would accomplish the marriage within four days or else that he should never have enjoyed me. Whereby I know well that I constrained him to break such promises as he had made to your Grace, as well for fear of loosing me as also that I ascertained him that I … I would never come into England."

The direct and honest appeal for forgiveness with which she concluded this letter was likely to be effective with Henry, if not with the Council :

" And now that your Grace knoweth the both offences of the which I have been the only occasion, I most humbly and as your most [sorrow]ful sister requiring you to have compassion upon us both and to pardon our offences, and that it will please your Grace to write to me and to my Lord of Suffolk some comfortable words, for it shall be greatest comfort for us both. By your loving and most humble sister,
Mary" (pp. 174-175)


Three facts are certain :

1 - the promise of Henry VIII to Mary to let her marry whom she wants after the death of Louis XII.

2- the promise of Brandon to Henry VIII made at Eltham in early January 1515, clearly demonstrated, he would make no personal advance to Mary during the time of his first embassy to Francis.

Henry's answer was long in coming. Intrigues of the Council in London : some demanded his dismissal, others his head. Henry's response came in the writings of Wolsey who reported the royal decision : "you have put yourself in the greatest danger as never man was, but there is a remedy", financial of course : a fine of 4,000 pounds of annuities cash, the full marriage of Mary, the return to Henry all her English silver, jewelery received from Louis XII. The price of pardon was measured in gold.

It seems, from reading the letters exchanged between all parties in this "secret affair" that neither Wolsey nor Henry were surprised by the marriage of Mary and Charles Brandon. Henry was primarily angry that it was done secretly and without the formal agreement. Neither Henry nor Wolsey did not attach much importance to the social condition of Brandon.

3- The true love of Mary to Brandon when she married him at Cluny. What began as hero worship of a young girl had become a deep and sincere affection, especially in these times of fear and loneliness. Maybe in love with Charles Brandon, Mary had accepted in "good princess", to marry the Archduke Charles of Austria, the future Charles V. But marry the old king of fifty-two years on the edge of the grave was both surprised and distressed that young girl.

Before leaving England, his brother agreed as she remarries she would like when she would be a widow. But will he hold his promise ?

Even if they had been lovers before marriage of Mary and Louis XII, Suffolk certainly did not expect to marry Mary in January-February 1515. The disgrace and death seemed promised to him if Henry wished.

A second public marriage, approved by a bishop, took place the last Saturday of March according to the Journal of Louise of Savoy. She was 19 and he 31.

She effectively receive her dower until her death in 1533. It consisted of an annuity of 55,000 "livres" income assigned domain of Saintonge, La Rochelle, Saint-Jean d'Angely, Rochefort, Chinon, Loudon County and Pezenas ; 10 "livres" more on each quintal of salt sold in the Languedoc.
In 1518, the pension is assigned to 60 950 "livres" ; and in 1523, the 60 250 "livres" which were to return her are not assigned because of the war with England.

Manufactured in 1509-1510, the Mary Rose was the emblem ship of the Tudor.
It was sunk in a battle against the French fleet on July 19, 1545


Finally, our lovers could leave Paris April 16, 1515. Francois 1st escorted them to St. Denis and gave Mary four rings. In Calais, they awaited permission to Henry VIII. They sailed to Dover on May 2. Mary had left England for exactly seven months.

A third marriage took place officially on May 13, 1515 in Saint Alfege Church of Greenwich, in the presence of the whole court. But Suffolk was a bigamist : his first wife, Anne Browne, was still alive. It was not until 1528 that a papal bull of Clement VII declared invalid the first union and canonical the union with Mary.


Mary and Charles had three children : Henry, in honor of the brother-king (1516-1534), Earl of Lincoln ; Frances, born it seems the day of St. Francis (1517-1559), wife of Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, and Adrian Stokes, mother of Lady Jane Grey who had a fatal destiny ; and Eleanor (1519-1547), wife of Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland.
She raised the two girls that Brandon had his first marriage to Anne Browne : Anne (b. 1507) who married Edward, Lord Grey of Powis (1503-1551) and Mary (b. 1510) who married Thomas Stanley, Lord Monteagle (1507-1570).



Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon had four children : Henry - Frances - Eleanor - Henry

1. Henry Brandon (March 11, 1516 to 1522)


2- Frances, Duchess of Suffolk
(1517-1559) by Holbein The Young


effigy on her tomb in Westminster Abbey

1 - She first married Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset.

She had very high aspirations for her family.

Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk

They had three children :

Jane - Catherine - Mary


She married Lord Guilford Dudley (son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and Jane Guilford)
She was executed February 12, 1554 at 16.
Lady Jane Grey was Queen of England from July 10 to 19, 1553

Queen Jane I of England (1537-1554)
by Master John



— The first marriage : Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (son of William Herbert and Ann Parr). They divorced vers1555.

— 2nd marriage: Edward Seymour, 1st Ea rl of Hereford (son of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Anne Stanhope)

Catherine Grey (1540-1568)



Mary Grey (1545-1578)
She married Thomas Keyes (son of Richard Keys and Agnes Saunders)


2- Frances married her second husband Adrian Stokes (1533-1585)

While her husband and her daughter were imprisoned, Frances remained at Sheen, in the company of Adrian Stokes, a "groom" 21-year employee of Suffolk House.
On 9 March, two weeks after the execution of her husband, she married Adrian Stokes.

They had a daughter : Elizabeth


Elizabeth Stokes (1555 - 1556)

3- Eleanor, Countess of Cumberland (1519-1547) by Holbein the Younger

She married Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland

They had a daughter : Margaret

She married Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby (son of Edward Stanley and Lady Dorothy Howard)

They had 4 children :
— Edward Stanley - Stanley Francis
— Ferdinando Stanley - William Stanley

Margaret, Countess of Derby (1540-1596)



4. Henry Brandon (1522 - March 1, 1534) created the first Earl of Lincoln in 1525.




Mary, sick, spent her last three years recluse at Westhorpe. Her three children and two step-daughters lived with her, but the family began to disperse shortly before her death.

In 1531, her stepdaughter Anne married Edward Grey, Lord Powis. Two years later, Mary joined London to attend the wedding of her eldest daughter, Frances, to Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset. That was in March, Mary had gathered her remaining strength to face the journey and ceremony.

She returned to die at Westhorpe. Her youngest daughter, Eleanor, was with him only to return. Suffolk had to stay in London to help organize the Henry coronation of Anne Boleyn. She was never to see his brother.

Mary died on June 25, 1533 at Westhorpe ; she was 37 years old, the same age as her mother. She has lived almost one billion two hundred millions of seconds.

The ambassador of France wrote to the king that she was much loved in the country by the common people.
Francis replied that he was "upset". He wins thirty thousand crowns a year of dower. "Pleus fole que reyne" ("more mad than queen") : that are the words he wrote with his hand on a portrait of her, indicating by these words he disapproved of her choice to marry a duke rather than king or emperor.

Bibliothèque Municipale Méjanes - Aix en Provence


The marriage of Mary and Charles Brandon in Paris, in the presence of François 1st.


Mary, back in England, was received by her brother. Charles Brandon stands sheepishly, almost anxious, behind Mary.


The funeral of Mary : neither her husband nor her brother were present


Henry was certainly distressed. Mary was his favorite sister, the one who has held, with Brandon, the first place in his affections. She was certainly the only woman who ever captured his spontaneous love and unwavering esteem ;
he never denied nor repudiated her.

Since no account of Mary's last illness has survived, it is fruitless to speculate on the nature of the 'old disease in her side' occasionally mentioned. Her constitution, never strong, must have been weakened by childbirth and recurring fevers. She was of nervous temperament, subject to periods of melancholy at times bordering on hysteria — 'fits of the mother' — which may have aggravated her sickly condition and a possible pulmonary weakness, like her father and her eldest brother Arthur, both of whom are considered probably to have died of consumption.

The Spanish Chronicle attributed her death to grief over Henry's divorce : " When the King left the blessed Queen Katherine, the Queen Dowager of France, wife of the Duke of Suffolk, was so much attached to her that the sight of her brother leaving his wife brought on an illness from which she died ? "

While Mary's body was still lying in state at Westhorpe an official funeral service was solemnized at Westminster Abbey on the tenth and eleventh of July, as a public gesture of honor by her husband and brother.

In tribute to her rank, it was conducted with all the ostentatious formality accorded to royalty ; the Earl of Essex was the chief of seven designated mourners, with the king-of-arms, herald-of-arms, and royal pursuivants performing their official duties. Henry and Suffolk were both too busy establishing a living queen to have time to go to Suffolk to honor a dead one.

Not even in death did Mary's body remain undisturbed. Twice her leaden coffin was dug up, and once opened by curious souvenir seekers who unscrupulously clipped from her head locks of its long hair, still golden-bright and shiny.

Mary Tudor Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, c. 1530
by Johannes Corvus


A monument in decorated alabaster was erected in Bury St Edmunds. Together, the grave and the document of its construction were destroyed during the Dissolution.

In 1784, two and a half centuries after her death, her coffin was removed to a new resting-place in the chancel of St. Mary's church, where the plain slab of Petworth marble which had originally marked her altar tomb now covers the grave.

It is simply inscribed : " Sacred to the Memory of Mary Tudor, third daughter of Henry VII of England, and Queen of France." The sermon delivered by the Reverend Arthur Hervey, Bishop of Bath and Wells, at the dedication ceremony of the Mary Tudor Memorial Window in the Lady Chapel of St. Mary's Church at Bury St. Edmunds in 1881, summed up her life in a glowing, if conjectural, tribute : " We may well conclude that she was a follower of godly and quiet matrons ; that her home was the centre of her affections, the sphere of her duties, the scene of her activity, the theatre on which she shone before the loving eyes of husband and children. "

On Sunday, September 7, 1533, three months after Mary's death, Charles Brandon, 49, married Catherine Willoughby, his pupil, 14 years old, attractive, young, rich and titled, daughter and heir of William Lord Willoughby.
Brandon had bought his tutelage five years earlier and was betrothed her to his son Henry who died shortly after this marriage, in 1534.
Is Anne Boleyn who said : " My Lord of Suffolk kills a son to generate another one " ?
They lived together twelve years and had two sons, Henry (1535-1551) and Charles (1537-1551) who survived him, becoming the second and third Dukes of Suffolk.

The greatest compliment that was given to Brandonwas received post-mortem in 1545 by Henry VIII when he said in opening the session of the Council that as long as the Duke of Suffolk had served, he never betrayed a friend or intentionally taken an unfair advantage over his opponent. Then, he invited the Lords to silence, with the confession that none of them could say the same.

attributed to Hans Eworth

After the death of Brandon, Henry VIII forgot everything except that he had been dispossessed of his last friend, as with Mary's death, he had lost his only selfless love.

Now, Mary Tudor will be one of the most famous women of the world known as The Lady and the Unicorn, by the grace of Antoine Le Viste and perhaps Jehan Perréal.

- - - - - - - - -


- Brown, Mary, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, London, Methuen & Co, 1911.
- Gunn, Steven, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1988.
- Jones, Michael and Underwood Malcolm, The King's Mother. Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, Cambridge, 1992.
- Loades, David, Mary Rose: Tudor Princess, Queen of France, the Extraordinary Life of Henry VIII's Sister, Stroud, Gloucestershire, éd. Amberley, 2012.
- Richardson, Walter, Mary Tudor, The White Queen, London, Peter Owen, 1970.
- Sadlack, Erin, The French Queen's Letters: Mary Tudor Brandon and the Politics of marriage in sixteenth-century Europe, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 and London, Kindle Edition, 2011.
- Scarisbrick, John, Henry VIII, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1968.
- Strickland, Agnes, Lives of the Tudor Princesses, including Lady Jane Gray and her sisters, London, Longmans and Co, 1868.,_Queen_of_France

The burials of the Tudors

The Suffolk Garland or East Country Minstrel : a collection of poems, songs, tales, ballads, sonnets, and elegies, legendary and romantic, historical and descriptive, relative to that County ; and illustrative of its scenery, places, biography, manners, habits and customs, Ipswich, John Raw, 1818. See the poem A Song of an English Knight, pp. 121-125. And Epistle from Mary Queen of France to Charles Brandon, pp. 128-134

— For the initiates in astrology, for its strong supporters and to get better acquainted with Mary Tudor, her starry heaven :,_Queen_of_France

Mary Tudor, Queen of France by Mary CROOM BROWN

— English website identifying "women in power" :
And for the years 1420-1500 :

TV series: The Tudors
Mary does not appear per se ! Princess Margaret Tudor, played by Gabrielle Anwar, is a mix of both sisters, Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots.

Slideshow with portraits of Mary

— Descendants of Mary : The " Tudors " : from Elizabeth Plantagenet and HENRY VII Tudor
From Tudor 1 : to Tudor 61 :


— To read some French texts about Mary, click on the following link : Textes sur Mary Tudor

To read "The entry of Mary in Paris" click on the following link : Entrée de Mary à Paris

Mary of England




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