Ann Foster 😷💉 Profile picture
Feb 14, 2018 24 tweets 10 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It’s Valentines Day and it’s Wednesday which is an interesting confluence that means its time for a #SixWivesNoHenry #ValentinesDay special edition! Because where more romantic than feminist Tudor history...?
So I dug around a bit to try and find a story that doesn’t end with beheading or adultery and found the perfect Valentines story: Mary Tudor Won’t Stop Til She Gets Her Man.
So! The Mary in question is Henry VIII’s baby sister, who was a cool and fun and smart sort of person whose life suddenly changed when her brother/King decided she had to marry the French King. Mary was 19, the king was 52.
Oh and the French King was also known to be sickly, had gout, and was “pocky” so basically everything any 19-year-old could ever want.
Mary was Henry’s favourite sister though, and he really liked her, so she hatched a SCHEME. She got him to promise that if she agreed to marry King Sickly-Pocky, she would be allowed to choose her next husband. Henry was like, idk sure whatevs.
Because the thing is that Mary was already in love with a dude named Charles Brandon. All you need to know is that in The Tudors tv show he was played by Henry Cavill and you understand she would go whatever it takes to get her man.
So Mary headed off to France to marry an old man with gout, hoping he’d die quickly so she could get on with life. On The Tudors it shows she poisoned him but in real life she didn’t need to; he died 82 days later. She was free!
Well sorta. The thing in France at that time was she had to stay in basically a dark room alone for forty days. Like, with thick curtains blocking out the light. She started to get a lil bit stir crazy.
Henry VIII, showing some Questionable Judgment, sent Charles Brandon aka Henry Cavill to France to pick Mary up. What could go wrong? What sort of sexytimes could a recently widowed teenager get up to with a man who looks like Henry Cavill who is in love with her?
Charles tries to stick to his instructions which are: bring Mary back to England and don’t marry her. But Mary is like, “I’ve been in a dark room for 40 days following an 82 day marriage to a pocky king. Let’s DO THIS.”
Charles was like Mary no, and Mary was like “I bet my gross brother is already arranging some other centenarian for me to marry so this is our only chance so let’s DO THIS THING CHARLES”
Aaaaaaand so they get secret married which is the sexiest way to get married don’t @ me you know it’s true
So, Charles tries to figure out how to break the news to Henry VIII without getting himself killed. Not only did he marry the kings sister without permission but also Charles and Henry were bros, so it was a double betrayal and Henry wasn’t known for his even temper.
So Charles went to one of Henry’s other advisors, Wolsey, who is THE WORST usually but in this case, is actually helpful. Charles is like, “Wolsey, I married Mary and we banged all the way over from France and she’s pregnant now so like helppppp”
Wolsey broke the news to Henry, who refused to believe it until he saw Charles’s letters himself. And then Henry flipped the fuck out, as everyone knew he would.
Mary was a royal and Henry’s sister, giving her more leverage than Charles, who was basically nobody. Mary said it was all her idea, she made Charles marry her, they hadn’t meant to betray Henry etc etc
Eventually, Mary and Wolsey wore him down and Henry agreed to give the marriage a blessing IF they returned all Mary’s dowry money from the wedding to the French King and the cost of sailing to and from France. Mary and Charles were like, DONE AND DONE.
When Mary and Charles got back to English court, Henry threw them a big party and an official second wedding ceremony. He’s cool with it you guys, why would you think he wouldn’t be!
And there isn’t a terrible ending to this, not really. Mary and Charles stayed married and had three daughters together, one of whom would go on to become Queen of England. But that’s another story for another day...
Click here for the master thread of all the previous #SixWivesNoHenry stories:
And pop by for my longer essays about rad women from history:
And check back next week for another story of a woman who managed to be cool, despite having to exist in the same universe as Henry VIII in the next instalment of #SixWivesNoHenry!
PS if you can’t get enough women’s history via twitter thread, check out #sexyhistory by @LadyHawkins and #BygoneBadassBroads by @themackenzilee
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