Thursday, 28 October 2010

Love and the Throne #7 - Edmund and Margaret Tudor - founders of a Dynasty

Duty brought Edmund and Margaret together and while their time was short, their progeny brought the British monarchy through the 1500's.

Just a little about Henry VII's parents:

When Henry V died, he left Katherine of Valois a widow. She was only 21 years old. Her son, the young Henry VI was taken from her to be raised. Katherine went to Wallingford Castle live, infrequently visiting her son. She soon fell in love with the keeper of her wardrobe, Owen Tudor. Away from court, Katherine carried on a wild affair with Owen. Naturally Katherine became pregnant. She and Owen entered into a secret marriage and her oldest son, Edmund was born in 1430. Katherine and Owen's love produced at least five children. It was rumored when she retired to Bermondsey Abby in 1437, she was pregnant. The baby died in childbirth and Katherine died shortly thereafter from poor post natal care.

Edmund was young, around 6 or 7, when him and his brother, Jasper, were given to Catherine de la Pole so they could be tutored.

Now Henry VI loved his half brothers very much. In 1449, he made Edmund a knight. Edmund was 18. In 1452, Edmund was made an earl. He was 21.

Edmund was tall and struck a handsome pose with his athletic build - and he was loyal to the bone to his half brother, the king. Interesting not: While Henry VI inherited schizophrenia from his mother (who I believe was a carrier, for she never showed signs of schizophrenia. Her father, Charles VI of France did,) Edmund and Jasper never showed symptoms of schizophrenia.

Henry VI arranged Edmund's marriage to Margaret Beaufort in 1455. The bride was 12. Her father was the Duke of Somerset, John Beaufort. Phillipa Gregory's book, "The Red Queen," gives a wonderful account of Margret's life.

Margaret was very religious and probably would have been happy to go into a nunnery. Instead, she was married and bedded at 12. Edmund was 25. In today's world that's statutory rape. In their time, despite her young age, it was accepted.

Duty brought Edmund and Margaret to the marriage bed. Edmund was now living in Wales, quelling rebellion, loyal to the king and the House of Lancaster. Religious as the young Margaret was,(she had calloused knees from kneeling too long and would often pass out while praying) I can't imagine that any love was fostered between the two.

Margaret became pregnant after a bit. This promised the child a distant place in the line of succession as Margaret's great great grandfather was John of Gaunt.

There could be no doubt Edmund was brave, courageous, and did his brother's duty with devotion. Edmund cared for Henry VI very much. The disorder in Wales had been quelled by his hand, and he restored his brother's law in that area. Unfortunately, in 1456, Sir William Herbert and Sir Walter Deveraux captured him. They didn't hold him long, but he died shortly thereafter.

Was it illness or poisoning? History books lean toward the plague, but don't completely rule out foul play.

Three months after Edmund's death, Margaret gave birth to Henry VII. She was 13. The labor was long and hard and difficult. Margaret lived, but interestingly enough, she did not have anymore children, even though she married twice and shared the martial bed with her subsequent husbands.

Edmund and Margaret weren't a love match like his parents were. They had little in common except for a devotion to duty and their only child became Henry VII.

NEXT: Love & The Throne 8
Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
Did he really take a knife to her neck?


Maggie Toussaint said...

Gracious Steph, you do know your way around the history archives. I enjoyed this snip of Edward and a Henry. I know it is a societal difference marrying for duty, but we've grown so used to the concept of marrying for love that I'd be hard pressed to do do it.

But then I wouldn't have made a good pioneer in the American West either.

God bless running water, tampons, and microwaveable food.


liana laverentz said...

Wonderful information, Steph. And I'm with Maggie. I love my car, and my house, and my creature comforts.

Savanna Kougar said...

Steph, just goes to show, if there's a lack of love, then it's difficult to create a loving society and a loving world.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating as ever, Steph! I know at the time people said that Margaret was too young and that was why she had no more children.

StephB said...

Maggie & Liana, I agree - it was tough times and I can't imagine not marrying for love.

Savanna, Yes, their story is proof that love makes the world better.

Lindsay, Phillipa Gregory implies in "The Red Queen" that something happened in the birth of Henry that damaged Margaret's reproductive system, and it makes sense considering she never had anymore children.

Thanks for popping in everyone

Keena Kincaid said...

Great post, Steph. I'd forgotten how young Margaret was when she was married. I'm not surprised she didn't have any more children. Any midwife could have told the king she was much too young for children.

And I'm going to add aspirin and antibiotics to Maggie's list of things to thank God for.