Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset
February of 1518 brought with it the announcement of a royal pregnancy. Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, announced her sixth pregnancy [Eugene]. Not unlike her previous five pregnancies, this one was greeted with as much, if not more caution than excitement. Henry VIII wanted nothing more than to produce a son to carry on his name and to continue the Tudor dynasty, and until this point, he and Catherine had not been granted that luxury.
After two stillborn children, two infant deaths, and the birth of one daughter, Mary, the hope that Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon would produce a son was all but diminished. That hope was not soon restored, as Catherine delivered a girl on the Tenth of November in 1518, and the infant died within hours of her birth.
Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon had often been described as “unusually good” by the people they interacted with in daily life [Elton, 103]. They slept together often, they spent a lot of time together outside of their regular royal duties, and they seemed to get along together quite well. However, not unlike most kings in that time, Henry VIII did carry on affairs with other women. His most notable affair while married to Catherine was with Elizabeth Blount, who was a lady in waiting to the Queen. While most of Henry’s affairs were short lived, his relationship with Elizabeth Blount lasted close to three years [Hart, 7]. In June of 1519, Blount gave birth to a healthy boy, and the boy was named Henry.
Although Henry VIII had produced this son with his mistress, an act that would be seen with shame and embarrassment in today’s world, the King did not take any measures to hide the fact that he had finally pr...
... middle of paper ...
...ame to light [Weir].
The king was also trying to push an act through Parliament that would allow him to name his successor while simultaneously disinheriting his daughter, Mary [Murphy, 172-174]. While there is no evidence that Henry VIII was passing this law in order to name Fitzroy as his successor, the act would have permitted him to do so, and therefore it is safe to assume he would have done just that.
Whatever plans Henry VIII may have had, however, turned out to be for nothing. In 1536, Henry Fitzroy fell ill, and it was apparent that he would not survive [Gairdner]. He made a few public appearances in his last few weeks, but on July 23, 1536, Henry Fitzroy died at St. James Palace [Murphy, 174].
While it cannot be guaranteed, Fitzroy likely died of Tuberculosis, the same lung disease that would claim his half brother, Edward, less than twenty years later.
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