On May 13, 1515, Mary Tudor officially married Charles Brandon. This was the second marriage for the youngest living child of Henry VII, but was not officially agreed upon. Henry VIII wanted the marriage of his sister to work out as an advantage to him – as all females offered households in the 16th century and why Mary first married the aging King of France, Louis XII.
Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon Marry and Lead to Lady Jane Grey
Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon officially married on May 13, 1515. Their actions led to the unfortunate Nine Day Queen, Lady Jane Grey.
Charles Brandon Returns to England with Mary Tudor
Charles was sent to France after the death of Louis XII in January 1515. Henry VIII knew that Mary had feelings for Charles, who was also his best friend. One of the promises that the 1st Duke of Suffolk (Charles) made to the King was that he would not propose to the dowager French Queen. However, the two married on March 3, 1515 in secret.
Breaking his promise and marrying the King’s sister without consent was treason and Charles faced the death penalty. In Showtime’s The Tudors, it is Margaret Tudor who marries Charles and they are both banished from Court but let off due to their close relationship with Henry VIII. In real life, it was Thomas Wolsey who managed to save Charles Brandon and Mary Tudors’ lives, along with Henry VIII’s affections for them. They received a fine and had their official ceremony in May.
Mary was always referred to in Court as the French Queen rather than the Duchess of Suffolk since the former was a higher title. She disliked Anne Boleyn after getting to know her in the French Court and had already developed a friendship and bond with Catherine of Aragon.
The Children of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon
The couple had four children, the most important of the four being their second child – their older daughter – Lady Frances Brandon. Two others -- their sons -- died when they were young and their second daughter was Lady Eleanor Brandon. It is Frances who makes the marriage between Mary and Charles so important due to her own marriage and daughters.
Lady Frances Brandon, born July 16, 1517, married the 3rd Marquess of Dorset, Henry Grey. She was Lady Jane Grey’s mother, who later became the Nine Day Queen. It was due to this relationship that Edward VI was able to place Lady Jane Grey in line of succession after him and removed his two half-sisters.
Upon the death of Edward VI, Frances arguably had a stronger claim to the throne than either of Edward’s half sisters, Elizabeth and Mary. Unlike Henry VIII's daughters, Frances was declared legitimate. Without Henry VIII's final will, illegitimate children would never have taken the throne. However, she stepped to one side to allow her daughter to take the crown instead. In fact, Frances did much scheming at Henry VIII’s court to make sure all three of her daughters were provided for.
Lady Frances Brandon Leads to Lady Jane Grey’s Death
Unfortunately for Frances, her scheming ultimately played a part in the death of Lady Jane Grey. While close friends with Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, she ensured that Jane would come into contact with all three of Katherine’s step-children. After the death of Henry VIII, Jane went to live under the care of Katherine Parr, along with Elizabeth.
Frances was now third-in-line to the throne, after Edward VI’s half-sisters, with Jane being fourth-in-line. Due to Henry VIII’s will, Margaret Tudor and her Scottish line had been taken out of the line of succession. These factors gave Frances and her husband the ammunition to start scheming further. She tried to arrange a marriage between her eldest daughter, Jane, and the now King of England.
The problem was that Frances was scheming with the wrong man. Katherine Parr had married Thomas Seymour, who was not as close to his brother or the Court as needed to make the arrangement possible. However, Thomas Seymour tried but it was too late as Edward VI didn’t trust either Seymour brother.
John Dudley Leads to New Possibilities for Frances Brandon
Poor Lady Jane was sent back home after the execution of Thomas Seymour in 1549. Upon the execution of Edward Seymour, Lord Protector, some years later, Frances Brandon realised that there was a new opportunity. By this time Edward VI was sickly and the marriage to him was no longer a possibility so Frances looked at the new Lord Protector, John Dudley, for a possibilities.
John Dudley agreed to arrange a marriage to his fourth son, Guildford Dudley. This was not the best match for the fourth-in-line to the throne and Jane was not happy with it. However, she had to submit to the will of her parents, who believed that this would be the best thing for Jane. In fact, John Dudley saw it as a benefit for him.
Jane and Guildford married on May 15, 1553, and this led to the scheming for Jane to become the Nine Day Queen.
All this came from a treasonous marriage between Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s younger sister, and Charles Brandon. Mary died on June 25, 1533, long before she got to see her daughter’s schemes and ploys to take over the throne. She was buried at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk at The Abbey but was moved to St. Mary’s Church after the Dissolution of the Monasteries destroyed The Abbey. Charles Brandon married again, this time to 14-year-old Catherine Willoughby – not the French woman that Showtime’s The Tudors showed.