July 1, 1543 – Treaty of Greenwich Signed

Anonymous Painting of Greenwich Palace During the Reign of ing Henry VIII (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Today was a big day: the signing of the Treaty of Greenwich that was designed to eventually unite England and Scotland under one crown. The Treaty actually consisted of two sub-treaties (the first established peace between the two kingdoms, the second agreed a marriage between the six-year old Prince Edward of England and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots) and was accompanied by the ceremonial release of a number of Scottish noblemen who had been imprisoned by the English. Although the Treaty was eventually rejected by the Scottish Parliament (leading to eight years of war known as the Rough Wooing…), everything looked perfect today.

The funny part is, amid all this celebration of Scotland, so many of the formalities of the day were centered around the Irish. The same day as he signed the Treaty of Greenwich, Henry also created two earls and a baron of Ireland (Moraghe O’Brien became Earl of Tomond, William Burgh became Earl of Clanrychard, and Donoghue O’Brien became Baron of Ybrakan) and then held a feast for them. Was this a nod to the historical alliance between Ireland and Scotland or another example of Henry’s tone-deaf attitude towards Scotland? Either way, the description in L&P is too wonderful not to share:

The Queen’s closet being richly hanged with arras and strewed with rushes, and the King come to his closet to hear high mass, the [three men to be ennobled] went to the Queen’s closet, and there, after sacring of high mass, put on their robes of estate. The King was under the cloth of estate with all his Council and many other nobles and the ambassadors of Scotland, viz. the Earl of Glencerne, Sir George Douglas, Sir William Hamelton, Sir James Leyrmonthe and the Secretary of Scotland. The Earl of Tomond was led in by the Earls of Derby and Ormond, Viscount Lisle bearing the sword, and Garter the letters patent, which were delivered by the Lord Chamberlain to the Great Chamberlain, who delivered them to the King, who took them to Mr. Wriothesley, Secretary, to read. At the words cincturam gladii the King took the sword from Viscount Lisle and girt it “bawdrick wise” about the Earl, who was kneeling, “and so the patent was read out.” The other Earl was created with like ceremony. Then the Baron, in his kirtle, was led in by Lords Cobham and Clinton, Lord Montjoye bearing the sword and Garter the letters patent, which were read by Mr. Pagett, Secretary, and at the word investimus he put on his robe. The King put chains of gold with crosses about each of their necks, and made five of the men that came with them knights. They then went, with their patents in their hands, to the Council chamber, underneath the King’s chamber, to dine, led by the trumpets and officers of arms and accompanied by the English earls and lords above named. After the second course Garter proclaimed their styles (given). The King gave them robes of estate and paid all duties.

 

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May 9, 1538 – Henry Loses a Potential Bride

Marie de Guise and James V by an unknown artist (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This was the day on which Marie de Guise married James V of Scotland by proxy, removing this crown jewel from the European marriage market. Marie was a member of the powerful Guise family, the power behind the throne in France, and at 21 was already a widow with a healthy son. She was said to be tall, beautiful and attractive, and her princess-sized dowry was provided by Francis himself. Could she get any better? Yes. She was also smart and witty.  When she heard that Henry (recently a widower) had explained to the French ambassador that she would be the perfect bride because Henry was “big in person, and needed a big wife,” she responded with a great dig: “I may be a big woman, but I have a very little neck.”

(Still, I have to admit, Christina of Denmark did her one better…When she was told of Henry’s interest, her response was, “If I had two heads, one would be at the disposal of the King of England.” In response, Wriothesley advised Thomas Cromwell that Henry should; “fyxe his most noble stomacke in some such other place.” A bit of great irony here, Christina would go on to marry Anne of Cleves’ former betrothed, Francis Duc de Bar.)

Marie’s marriage to James would be successful: she got pregnant quickly, giving birth first to James, Duke of Rothesay (born May 22, 1540) and Robert, Duke of Albany (born April 12, 1541); however, both died on April 21, 1541 (with the cause blamed mainly on a change of wet nurses and over-feeding). Their third and last child, Mary, was born December 8, 1542 and became Queen of Scots six days later. That’s a whole other story!

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