September 2: Today in Royal History

Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

September 2, 1348 – Death of Joan of England, daughter of King Edward III of England, at Bayonne, France, buried in Bayonne Cathedral
Born in 1335, Joan was the second daughter and third child of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault.  Joan was to marry Infante Pedro of Castile, son and heir of Alfonso XI.  She set out for Spain where the marriage was to take place in November, 1348.  Upon reaching the European mainland, it was discovered that the plague had broken out.  Unfortunately, Joan died of the plague and was buried at Bayonne Cathedral.
Wikipedia: Joan of England

September 2, 1753 – Birth of Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy, wife of King Louis XVIII of France, at the Royal Palace of Turin (Italy)
Wikipedia: Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy

September 2, 1778 – Birth of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland in Ajaccio, Corsica
Louis was the brother of Napoleon. He married Hortense Beauharnais, the daughter of Napoleon’s first wife Josephine by her first marriage. Hortense and Louis were the parents of Napoleon III.
Wikipedia: Louis Bonaparte

September 2, 1838 – Birth of Queen Liliuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii in Honolulu, Oahu, Kingdom of Hawaii
Wikipedia: Liliuokalani

Æthelred II (the Unready), King of the English

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Æthelred II (the Unready), King of the English was from the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex. He was a great great grandson of King Alfred the Great and the father of two kings, Edmund Ironside and Edward the Confessor. His nickname in Old English was unræd which means “no counsel” and describes the poor quality of advice which Æthelred received throughout his reign. Æthelred is number eight on the top ten list of longest reigning British monarchs. He reigned for two separate periods (March 18, 978 – December 25, 1013 and February 3, 1014 – April 23, 1016) for a total of 37 years, 362 days.

Æthelred was born circa 966 – 968 to King Edgar I (the Peaceful or the Peaceable) and Ælfthryth, daughter of Ordgar, Ealdorman of Devon.  He had an elder half brother Edward the Martyr (c. 962 – 978) and an elder half sister Eadgyth (961 – 984), later known as Saint Edith of Wilton.  His parents also had another son before Æthelred’s birth, Edmund, who died young, circa 970.

In 975, King Edgar died and left two sons, Edward around 13 years of age and Æthelred around 8 years old. Various nobles and clergy formed factions which supported each of the brothers’ succession to the crown. Both boys were too young to have played any significant role in political maneuvering, and so it was the brothers’ supporters who were responsible for the turmoil which accompanied the choice of a successor to the throne. In the end, Edward’s supporters proved the more powerful and persuasive, and he was crowned king before the year was out.

Edward’s reign was short-lived. On March 18, 978 while visiting Æthelred and his mother, Edward was stabbed to death. Although Æthelred was not personally suspected of participation, it appears that the murder was committed by his supporters, and the specter of his half brother’s murder hung over him for the rest of his life. Edward is recognized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican Church, and is known as Saint Edward the Martyr.

Æthelred was crowned on April 14, 979 at Kingston Upon Thames, now in southwest London, then an ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned. In an Icelandic saga, by Gunnlaugr Ormstunga (Gunnlaugr “Serpent-Tongue” or “Wormtongue”), Æthelred is described as, “[A] tall, handsome man, elegant in manners, beautiful in countenance, and interesting in his deportment.” Gunnlaugr’s travels took him to England and he apparently met Æthelred.

Around 985, Æthelred married Ælfgifu of York, daughter of Thored, Ealdorman of York.  Ælfgifu appears to have died by 1002, possibly in childbirth. Æthelred and Ælfgifu’s known children are:

(Note: Ætheling was used in Anglo-Saxon England to designate princes of the royal dynasty who were eligible for the kingship.)

In 1002, Æthelred married Emma of Normandy, the daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy.  Emma’s brother, Richard II, Duke of Normandy, attempted to improve relations with England through his sister’s marriage to King Æthelred. This marriage was also important because it gave Richard II’s grandson, William the Conqueror, the basis of his claim to the throne of England. Æthelred and Emma had three children:

After Æthelred’s death, Emma married Cnut the Great, King of England, Denmark and Norway and their son Harthacnut was King of England and Denmark.

Emma and her sons Edward and Alfred being received by her brother Richard II, Duke of Normandy

In England, the beginning of the Viking Age is dated to June 8, 793, when Vikings destroyed Lindisfarne Abbey, a center of learning on an island off the northeast coast of England in Northumberland. The Scandinavians’ desire for goods led to exploration and development of extensive partnerships in new territories. In addition, it has been suggested that the Scandinavian population was too large for their home peninsula and there was not enough good farmland for everyone. This led to a hunt for more land. This hunt for trade and farming land was often violent and there were many conflicts and battles between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons. In 886, the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum was formalized, defining the boundaries of the English kingdoms and Danish or Norse kingdoms (called Danelaw), with provisions for peaceful relations between the English and the Vikings.
Wikipedia: Viking Age
Wikipedia: Danelaw

England had experienced a period of peace after the reconquest of the Danelaw in the mid-10th century by King Edgar, Æthelred’s father. King Edgar allowed for limited autonomy in the Danelaw. However, in 980 a series of Viking coastal raids began. During this time, the Normans (comes from the French Normans/Normanz meaning Norseman) who were descended from Viking conquerors, allowed the Viking raiders to take refuge in their ports. This led to tension between the English and Norman courts, and Pope John XV had to negotiate peace between England and Normandy, which was ratified in Rouen, Normandy in 991.

In August of 991, a large Danish fleet invaded southeast England and headed up the Thames estuary toward London. The Battle of Maldon ensued which ended in the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons. Æthelred and his council bought the Danes off with 22,000 pounds of gold and silver, thereby instituting the policy of regular protection money called Danegeld to the Danes. These raids and the subsequent payment of Danegeld continued for several years.

According to The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 1002 King Æthelred was told that the Danish men in England “would faithlessly take his life, and then all his councillors, and possess his kingdom afterwards.” In response, Æthelred “ordered slain all the Danish men who were in England.” St. Brice’s Day Massacre occurred on November 13, 1002, the feast day of St. Brice, fifth-century Bishop of Tours. There was significant loss of life including Gunhilde, who may have been the sister of King Sweyn I of Denmark (Sweyn Forkbeard).  In retaliation, Sweyn attacked England in 10003 – 1004, burning Norwich, but a famine in 1005 caused him to retreat.

The Danish invaders returned and within a few years, all of England came under Danish rule. In 1013, Sweyn was acknowledged as King of England. Æthelred fled to the Isle of Wight and then to Normandy. Sweyn died on February 3, 1014 and the Danes in England swore their allegiance to Sweyn’s son Cnut the Great, but leading English noblemen sent a deputation to Æthelred to negotiate his restoration to the throne. Æthelred launched an attack against Cnut and his allies, but Cnut’s army had not completed its preparations and, in April 1014, he decided to withdraw from England without a fight. Æthelred returned to England, and reigned until his death in London on April 23, 1016. He was buried in Old St Paul’s Cathedral in London, but his tomb was destroyed along with the cathedral in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Æthelred’s son Edmund Ironside was now King, but had to fight Cnut to keep the Kingdom of England. The war between Edmund and Cnut ended in a decisive victory for Cnut at the Battle of Assandun on October 18, 1016. Because Edmund’s reputation as a warrior was great, Cnut agreed to divide England, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the rest of the country beyond the River Thames. However, Edmund died on November 30, 1016 and Cnut the Great became King of England. Cnut later became King of Denmark and King of Norway, and married Æthelred’s widow Emma of Normandy.

Edmund Ironside (left) and Cnut the Great (right); Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Æthelred the Unready

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Royal News: Wednesday 2 September 2015

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Royal News: Tuesday 1 September 2015

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September 1915: Royalty and World War I

by Susan Flantzer


Captain The Honorable Fergus Bowes-Lyon; Photo Credit – Daily Mail

Captain The Honorable Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the brother of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the uncle of Queen Elizabeth II, was killed in action on September 27, 1915 during the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, a phase of the Battle of Loos, in France. Fergus was the sixth of the ten children of Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck.

Fergus was born on April 18, 1889 at St. Paul’s Walden Bury, a Bowes-Lyon family estate in Hertfordshire, England. He was 12 years older than his sister Elizabeth and there were two siblings between them. Fergus was educated at Eton College in Eton, Berkshire, England, right across the River Thames from Windsor.

Fergus joined Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) 2nd Battalion as a second lieutenant in December of 1910, and in 1911 was sent to Punjab, India. He would have been very happy to remain in the military, but as a younger son of a peer, he knew he had to earn more money, so he took a job in the City of London. When World War I started in August of 1914, Fergus rejoined the Black Watch serving in the 8th Battalion.

On September 9, 1914, Fergus wrote to his mother that he and his fiancée Lady Christian Dawson-Damer, daughter of George Dawson-Damer, 5th Earl of Portarlington, intended to marry at once. The wedding was held on September 17, 1914, and then Fergus went off to join the 8th Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). Fergus and Christian had one child, a daughter, Rosemary Luisa Bowes-Lyon (July 18, 1915 – January 18, 1989), who was born two months before her father’s death. After Fergus’s death, his widow Lady Christian married Captain William Frederick Martin on June 4, 1919.

by Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, 6 April 1932

Lady Christian Norah Martin (née Dawson-Damer) by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative, 6 April 1932 NPG x150177 © National Portrait Gallery, London

All four of the eldest surviving sons of the 14th Earl of Strathmore, saw action in World War I. Besides Fergus, his two elder surviving brothers were also in the British Army: Patrick and John (known as Jock) were both in the Black Watch. His next youngest brother, Michael, had just completed his first year at Magdalen College, Oxford, but he volunteered for the Scots Guard at once.

Fergus was sent to the Western Front in 1915, where the British Army and the French Army were attacking the German lines in Champagne and Artois in France to relieve pressure on their Russia allies. In August, Fergus had a brief visit home, and then returned to his battalion. British and French soldiers were preparing to attack on September 25 in the Battle of Loos, but the French were stopped by the Germans and the British, using poison gas for the first time, made some forward progress, but reinforcements were slow to come.

British infantry advancing through gas at Loos, September 25, 1915; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

On September 27, 1915, Fergus was ordered to remove a group of Germans who had infiltrated a trench by the Hohenzollern Redoubt, a defensive strongpoint of the German 6th Army, which the Black Watch had captured on September 26. Fergus and his men had been fighting continuously for the previous two days and nights. They had been relieved at 4 AM on September 27, and were preparing their breakfast when the new orders were received. Fergus led his men forward, but a German bomb exploded at his feet. His right leg was blown off and he suffered chest wounds. At the same time, bullets hit him in the chest and shoulder. Fergus was removed from the battlefield, and died a few hours later at the age of 26.

At the time of Fergus’ death, his brother John was also serving with the Black Watch. His younger brother Michael was at home recovering from wounds and his eldest brother Patrick had recently left the Black Watch after being wounded. His mother was severely affected by the loss of her son, and after his death became an invalid, withdrawn from public life until the marriage of her daughter Elizabeth to the future king in 1923. On April 23, 1926, as Elizabeth entered Westminster Abbey to be married to the future King George VI, she passed the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, whose remains had been brought from France and buried in the Abbey floor three years earlier. Elizabeth laid her bouquet of white roses on it. No doubt she was thinking of her brother Fergus and all the other British soldiers who died in World War I.
Daily Mail: Give my love to Elizabeth: The Queen Mother’s brother – and a desperately poignant letter from the WWI trenches weeks before he died

Fergus was buried in a quarry at Vermelles, France. The quarry was adopted as a war cemetery, but the details of Fergus’ grave were lost, and so he was recorded among the names of the missing on the Loos Memorial.  In November of 2011, Fergus’ grandson
supplied family records to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission detailing Fergus’ original burial place, and showing that it had remained marked until the end of the war. In August of 2012, Fergus’ place of commemoration was moved to the Quarry Cemetery in Vermelles and is now marked by a headstone (photo below) inscribed with his personal details and the words “Buried near this spot” as the precise location of the grave is still not known.
Daily Record: Final resting place of Queen’s uncle discovered nearly a century after his death

fergus bowes lyon grave

Photo Credit –

British losses in the Battle of Loos were exceptionally high with 50,000 casualties (including at least 20,000 deaths). John Kipling, the 18 year old son of British author Rudyard Kipling also died in the Battle of Loos on the same day Fergus died. Kipling remembered his son and all the casualties of World War I in the following poem:

The Children
“The Honours of War” – A Diversity of Creatures

by Rudyard Kipling

These were our children who died for our land: they were dear in our sight.
We have only the memory left of their home-treasured saying and laughter.
The price of our loss shall be paid to our hands, not another’s hereafter.
Neither the Alien nor Priest shall decide on it. That is our right.
But who shall return us the children?

At the hour the Barbarian chose to disclose his pretences,
And raged against Man, they engaged, on the breasts that they bared for us,
The first felon-stroke of the sword he had long-time prepared for us –
Their bodies were all our defense while we wrought our defenses.

They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the Judgment o’ercame us.
They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning
Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning
Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour –
Nor since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her.

Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marveling, closed on them.

That flesh we had nursed from the first in all cleanness was given
To corruption unveiled and assailed by the malice of Heaven –
By the heart-shaking jests of Decay where it lolled in the wires –
To be blanched or gay-painted by fumes – to be cindered by fires –
To be senselessly tossed and retossed in stale mutilation
From crater to crater. For that we shall take expiation.
But who shall return us our children?


Timeline: September 1, 1915 – September 30, 1915


A Note About German Titles

Most of the royals who died in action during World War I were German. The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent states, most of them ruled by royal families. Scroll down to German Empire here to see what constituent states made up the German Empire.  The constituent states retained their own governments, but had limited sovereignty. Some had their own armies, but the military forces of the smaller ones were put under Prussian control. In wartime, armies of all the constituent states would be controlled by the Prussian Army and the combined forces were known as the Imperial German Army.  German titles may be used in Royals Who Died In Action below. Refer to Unofficial Royalty: Glossary of German Noble and Royal Titles.

24 British peers were also killed in World War I and they will be included in the list of those who died in action. In addition, more than 100 sons of peers also lost their lives, and those that can be verified will also be included.


August 1915 – Royals/Nobles/Peers Who Died In Action

The list is in chronological order and does contain some who would be considered noble instead of royal. The links in the last bullet for each person is that person’s genealogical information from Leo’s Genealogics Website or to The Peerage website.  If a person has a Wikipedia page, their name will be linked to that page.

The Honorable Harold Cawley

The Honorable Frank Bethell

Andrew Stuart, Viscount Stuart

The Honorable Hercules Robinson

The Honorable Fergus Bowes-Lyon (see above)

The Honorable Cyril Ponsonby

The Honorable Maurice Browne

The Honorable Thomas Agar-Robartes

King Henry VIII of England

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

King Henry VIII of England is known for his six wives, but he also makes the list for the top ten longest reigning British monarchs coming in at number nine with a reign of 37 years, 281 days. He became king in 1509, two months short of his 18th birthday and reigned until his death at the age of 55 in 1547. Henry and his siblings represented the merging of the Lancasters and the Yorks who fought for power during the Wars of the Roses. By 1483, Henry VIII’s father, Henry Tudor, was the senior male Lancastrian claimant remaining. Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York, was the eldest daughter of the Yorkist King Edward IV, the elder brother of King Richard III. In 1485, Henry Tudor won the throne when his forces defeated the forces of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, becoming king by the right of conquest. The new dynasty was the House of Tudor descended in the male line from the Tudors of Penmynydd in Wales. Upon his marriage to Elizabeth of York, Henry VII adopted the Tudor Rose combining the white rose of the House of York and the red rose of the House of Lancaster.

The Tudor Rose; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry VIII’s parents, Elizabeth of York and King Henry VIII of England; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry was born at Greenwich Palace on June 28, 1491, the third child and the second son of his parents. He had six siblings:

Henry weeping over the death of his mother, along with his sisters Mary and Margaret; Credit – Wikipedia

The heir to the throne, Arthur, Prince of Wales had his own household at Ludlow Castle in the Marches of Wales. Henry and his other siblings were brought up at Eltham Palace at Greenwich in London. Henry’s first tutor was the English poet John Skelton who taught his pupil Latin, ancient authors, history, music and poetry. Henry continued to receive a Renaissance humanist education with tutors William Hune and Giles Duwe. Henry was fluent in French and Latin, played several instruments, and composed both religious and secular songs.

At the age of three, Henry was created Duke of York and a year later he was appointed to the Order of the Garter. On November 14, 1501, ten year old Henry led Catherine of Aragon (the youngest daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand V of Aragon), his brother Arthur’s bride, to the altar at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. Five months later, Arthur was dead from “a malign vapor which proceeded from the air” and Henry was the heir to the throne. He immediately became Duke of Cornwall and was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on February 18, 1503.

King Henry VII did not want to lose Catherine of Aragon’s dowry or the alliance he had made with Spain, so he offered Henry, who was five years younger than Catherine, to be her husband. A number of problems with negotiations made it doubtful that the marriage would ever take place. With little money, Catherine lived as a virtual prisoner at Durham House in London from 1502 – 1509. King Henry VII died on April 21, 1509 and 17 year old Henry succeeded him.

Henry VIII in 1509; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellors: The Lord Chancellor was the King’s chief adviser.

  • William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury: married and crowned Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon
  • Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York: started as Henry’s almoner, but within a few years became powerful in all matters of state, lost all his government titles after failing to negotiate an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, died on his way to London to answer charges of treason
  • Sir Thomas More: lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist; opposed the Protestant Reformation, tried for treason for not taking the Oath of Supremacy, was convicted and beheaded, canonized as a Roman Catholic saint
  • Sir Thomas Audley, later Baron Audley of Walden: barrister and judge, supported the King’s divorce from Catherine and the marriage with Anne Boleyn, presided at the trials of Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More; participated in Anne Boleyn’s trial, recommended to Parliament the new Act of Succession, which made Jane Seymour’s issue legitimate
  • Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton: diplomat, one of the King’s personal secretaries, personally tortured the reformer Protestant Anne Askew on the rack, one of the executors of Henry’s will
  • William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester: statesman who held many offices, one of the judges for the trials of Bishop John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, and the alleged lovers of Anne Boleyn

Other Important People During Henry VIII’s Reign

  • Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk: boyhood friend of Henry VIII, second husband of Henry’s sister Mary, held several positions in the royal household
  • Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury: a leader of the English Reformation, helped build the case for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, burned at the stake for heresy during the reign of Henry’s Catholic daughter Mary I
  • Thomas Cromwell: lawyer, statesman and chief minister to Henry VIII from 1532 – 1540, advocate of the English Reformation, helped to engineer an annulment of the king’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, played a prominent role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn, fell from power after arranging the King’s unsuccessful marriage to Anne of Cleves, executed for treason and heresy
  • Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk: politician, played a major role in arranging the marriages of his nieces Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard to Henry VIII, was stripped of the dukedom and imprisoned in the Tower, avoiding execution when Henry VIII died
  • Sir Richard Rich: lawyer, Solicitor General, major participant in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, helped prepare the cases against Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, played a major role in the downfall of Thomas Cromwell, was Lord Chancellor under King Edward VI

Wife One: Catherine of Aragon

Credit – Wikipedia

One of Henry’s first acts as king was to plan to marry his widowed sister-in-law. Marriage to his brother’s widow depended on the Pope granting a dispensation because according to canon law, marriage to a brother’s widow was forbidden. Catherine testified that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and therefore according to canon law, the marriage had not been valid. On June 11, 1509, King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were privately married at the Grey Friars’ Church in Greenwich. The couple’s coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on June 23, 1509.

16th century woodcut of the coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon showing their heraldic badges, the Tudor Rose and the Pomegranate of Granada; Credit – WikipediaCatherine was pregnant six times and had only one surviving child Mary I, Queen of England.

Mary in 1544; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry and Catherine’s marriage was initially a happy one, but Henry was desperate for a male heir. By the mid-1520s, it became obvious that Catherine, who was five years older than Henry, was unlikely to have any more children. Henry became convinced that his marriage was cursed because Leviticus 20:21 says, “And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.” Around the same time, Henry became enamored of Anne Boleyn, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine, and Henry began pursuing her.

Henry instructed Cardinal Wolsey to start negotiations with the Vatican to have his marriage with Catherine annulled. Catherine put up a valiant fight to save her marriage and was supported by her nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.  After several long years of negotiations, Cardinal Wolsey failed to obtain the annulment incurring the anger of Anne Boleyn, who brought about Wolsey’s dismissal as Chancellor. A far more reaching consequence was Henry’s break with Rome which was to lead to the Reformation in England and the establishment of the Church of England. In 1533, Henry nominated Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury and in May of 1533, Cranmer declared that because Henry and Catherine’s marriage was against the law of God, it was null and void. Catherine was banished from the court and Henry refused her the right to any title but “Dowager Princess of Wales” in recognition of her position as his brother’s widow. She was forbidden to see her daughter and died at Kimbolton Castle on January 7, 1536.

Wife Two: Anne Boleyn

Credit – Wikipedia

Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Lady Elizabeth’s brother was the Tudor courtier, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Anne’s birth date and birthplace are uncertain, but Anne grew up with her siblings at Hever Castle. She served at the French court as a maid of honor to Mary Tudor, the wife of King Louis XII of France, and Claude of France, daughter of Louis XII and wife of his successor Francis I. Upon her return to England, she was appointed a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon.

Anne was lively and vivacious and soon attracted admirers at the English court including King Henry VIII. As stated above, Henry was desperate for a male heir and thought that Anne could give him one. Anne refused to become Henry’s mistress as her sister Mary had. However, she continued to flirt with him and entered into an amorous correspondence with him. Meanwhile, Henry set into action the machinations that would annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. When Henry secretly married Anne on January 25, 1533, she was already pregnant with her first child. On May 25, 1533, Thomas Cranmer declared Henry and Catherine’s marriage null and void and five days later, he declared Henry and Anne’s marriage valid. Anne was crowned at Westminster Abbey of June 1, 1533.

Anne was pregnant three times, but only gave birth to one live child.

  • Elizabeth I, Queen of England (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603), unmarried, no issue
  • Stillborn son (August/September 1534)
  • Miscarried son (January 29, 1536)

Elizabeth in about 1546; Credit – Wikipedia

The loss of the last son sealed Anne’s fate. Henry was determined to be rid of her, and her fall and execution were engineered by Thomas Cromwell. Many historians believe that the case charging Anne with adultery with her brother George Boleyn and four other men was completely fabricated. Anne was arrested on May 2, 1536 and taken to the Tower of London. On May 14, 1536, Thomas Cranmer declared her marriage to Henry was null and void. Her trial occurred at the Tower on May 15, 1536 and she was found guilty of adultery, incest, and high treason. On May 18, 1536, Anne’s brother and the four other men were executed. Anne was beheaded on Tower Green on May 19, 1536 by a headman from Calais, France who used a sword rather than an axe.

Wife Three: Jane Seymour

Credit – Wikipedia

Sometime in early 1536, Henry VIII began to show an interest in Jane Seymour, maid of honor to both Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth, Jane was born around 1508 into a prominent gentry family. During the period of Anne Boleyn’s arrest, trial and execution, Jane left court and stayed at the family home, Wolf Hall.  As soon as Henry heard the guns at the Tower of London announcing Anne Boleyn’s death, he left for Wolf Hall. Jane and Henry were betrothed the next day and on May 30, 1536, they were married by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in a private ceremony held in the Queen’s Closet at Whitehall Palace. Early in 1537, Jane became pregnant and on October 12, 1537, she gave Henry his much longed for son.

  • Edward VI, King of England (October 12, 1537 – July 6, 1553), unmarried, no issue

Edward in 1539; Credit – Wikipedia

The King’s joy was short-lived. On October 17, 1537, Jane’s condition deteriorated and she was given the last rites.   She died at Hampton Court Palace on October 24, 1537, most likely from puerperal fever or child-bed fever, a bacterial infection.

Fourth Wife: Anne of Cleves

Credit – Wikipedia

After Jane’s death, Henry’s ambassadors to other courts were instructed to make inquiries about a possible fourth bride. Henry remained a widower for over two years and his fourth marriage was to prove the shortest of his six marriages. Anne of Cleves was born in 1515 in Düsseldorf, now in Germany. The Duchy of Cleves was a state of the Holy Roman Empire and encompassed parts of present day Germany and the Netherlands. Anne was the daughter of Johann III, Duke of Cleves and Maria of Jülich-Berg. At the time of the marriage negotiations, Anne’s brother Wilhelm was the reigning duke. After seeing Hans Holbein’s portrait of Anne (above) and being urged on by his chief minister Thomas Cromwell, Henry agreed to the marriage.

When Henry met Anne, he said, “She is nothing so fair as she hath been reported,” and Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the marriage but, by this point, doing so was impossible. Henry turned on Cromwell as did Cromwell’s enemies and this led to his downfall. Thomas Cromwell was arrested, charged with treason and heresy and executed on July 28, 1540.

Henry went forward with the wedding which was conducted on January 6, 1540 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage, saying, “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse.” On July 9, 1540, the marriage was annulled on the grounds of non-consummation. Anne received a generous settlement, including Richmond Palace and the Boleyns’ former home Hever Castle, and was referred to as “the King’s Beloved Sister.” She was invited to court and was given precedence over all English women except the King’s wife and daughters.

Anne was the only one of Henry’s wives to outlive him. She survived long enough to see the coronation of Henry’s daughter Mary I. Anne died on July 16, 1557, two months before her forty-second birthday and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Fifth Wife: Catherine Howard

Credit – Wikipedia

Catherine Howard was born in about 1520, the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpper. Like the mother of Anne Boleyn, Catherine’s father was the child of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Therefore Catherine was the first cousin of Anne Boleyn and the niece of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. After a rather lax upbringing in the household of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine’s uncle, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, found a place for her in the household of Henry’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves.

As Henry was disinterested in Anne of Cleves, Catherine quickly caught his eye. Catherine, well aware of the King’s interest, set out to captivate him. Her relatives encouraged her scheming and soon the King was showering favors upon Catherine. On the day after his annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, Henry was urged by his council, headed by Catherine’s uncle, to marry again “for the comfort of the realm.” Henry and Catherine were married at Hampton Court Palace on July 28, 1540.

For a while, Henry’s marriage seemed to rejuvenate him. However, young Catherine found no joy in a husband who was old, physically gross and repugnant. Catherine began affairs with Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper, two young men whom she had affairs with while in the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s household. Jane Boleyn, one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting and the widow of the George Boleyn, executed for supposedly having an affair with his sister Anne Boleyn, aided and abetted Catherine in these affairs. Jane had testified, most likely falsely, against her husband and sister-in-law. An informer told the council about Catherine’s affairs.

Catherine was arrested and imprisoned at Syon Abbey where she remained throughout the winter of 1541 – 1542. Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper were executed on December 10, 1541. Catherine was taken to the Tower of London on February 10, 1542 and was beheaded there, along with Jane Boleyn, on February 13, 1542.

Sixth Wife: Catherine Parr

Credit – Wikipedia

King Henry VIII now required a nurse rather than a wife. He had become obese and needed to be moved around with the help of mechanical devices. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and probably suffered from gout. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced from the jousting accident in 1536, in which he suffered a leg wound that never healed. The jousting accident is believed to have caused Henry’s mood swings, which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament. Upon hearing good reports about the twice widowed Catherine, Lady Latimer (born Catherine Parr) who cared for her elderly second husband John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer, Henry married her on July 12, 1543 at Hampton Court Palace. Catherine proved to be a good nurse to Henry and a kind stepmother to his three children. She was influential in Henry’s passing of the Third Succession Act in 1543 that restored both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of succession to the throne.

Catherine’s religious views were reform Protestant, in the sense of the definition of the word Protestant today. Her religious views incited a pro-Catholic/anti-Reform Protestant faction  led by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor, to bring a charge of heresy against her in 1546. Catherine found out about this and eloquently pleaded her case successfully to Henry.

After Henry’s death in 1547, Catherine married Thomas Seymour, uncle of King Edward VI. In August of 1548, Catherine and Seymour had a daughter, but tragically Catherine died on September 5, 1548 of puerperal fever or child-bed fever. Her daughter appears to have died young.

Illegitimate Son

King Henry VIII acknowledged only one illegitimate child. His mother was Henry’s mistress Elizabeth Blount.

Wikipedia: Mistresses of Henry VIII

Henry Fitzroy; Credit – Wikipedia

Some Events of Henry VIII’s Reign

The meeting of Francis I and Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520

  • Publication of Defense of the Seven Sacraments, 1521: which Henry wrote in response to Martin Luther’s attack on indulgences
  • Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith), 1521: Pope Leo X rewards Henry for writing Defense of the Seven Sacraments with the title Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith); revoked following the king’s break with the Catholic Church in the 1530s, but re-awarded to his heir by the English Parliament
  • First Succession Act, 1533: makes the yet unborn Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, Henry’s heir and makes Princess Mary, the King’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, a bastard
  • Act of Supremacy, 1534: Henry is declared the supreme head of the Church of England
  • Treasons Act, 1534: made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse the Oath of Supremacy
  • Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act, 1536: provided for administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded Catholic monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland, appropriated their income, disposed of their assets, and provided for their former members and functions
  • Second Succession Act, 1536: declared Henry’s children by Jane to be next in the line of succession and declared both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and excluded from the succession
  • Rough Wooing (December 1543 – March 1551): conflict between Scotland and England in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between his son Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots
  • Third Succession Act, 1543: returned Henry’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the line of the succession behind their half-brother Edward
  • Henry founds Trinity College, Cambridge, 1546

King Henry VIII, 1542; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry’s health issues certainly hastened his death. As he lay dying in January of 1547 at the age of 55, he was able to ponder aloud on his misdoings. After some urging, he sent for Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, but when he arrived, Henry could no longer talk and was only able to press Cranmer’s hand when asked to give a sign that he trusted in God. King Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547. The news of his death was withheld for three days, while the council debated the fate of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk who had been held at the Tower of London, under a death sentence, since the fiasco with his niece Catherine Howard. The council decided to spare him. King Henry VIII was buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle next to Jane Seymour, the wife that gave him a son. Henry had made plans for a magnificent tomb, but they were never carried out. In 1649, the remains of the beheaded King Charles I were buried in Henry and Jane’s vault.

Coffins of King Henry VIII (center, damaged), Queen Jane (right), King Charles I with a child of Queen Anne (left), vault under the choir, St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, marked by a stone slab in the floor; Credit – Wikipedia

Henry VIII_tomb

Stone slab in floor indicating tomb of Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour; Photo Credit –

Wikipedia: King Henry VIII of England

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September 1: Today in Royal History

Princess Alexandra of Edinburgh; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

September 1, 1651 – Birth of Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina, second wife of Tsar Alexei of Russia and the mother of Tsar Peter I “the Great”
Wikipedia: Natalia Kirillovna Naryshkina

September 1, 1711 – Birth of William IV, Prince of Orange born in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Wikipedia: William IV, Prince of Orange

September 1, 1715 – Death of King Louis XIV of France at the Palace of Versailles; buried at the Basilica of Saint Denis near Paris
Wikipedia: Louis XIV of France

September 1, 1878 – Birth of Alexandra of Edinburgh, daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria, at Edinburgh Palace in Coburg, Germany
Full name: Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria
Unofficial Royalty: Alexandra of Edinburgh

September 1, 1922 – Death of Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont, wife of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, at Hinterris, Tyrol, Austria; buried near the Chapel at Hinterriss
Unofficial Royalty: Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont

September 1, 1928 – Ahmet Zogu declares Albania a monarchy and proclaims himself King Zog I of Albania
Wikipedia: Zog I of Albania

Royal News: Monday, 31 August 2015

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The Jordan Times: Queen cooks lunch with orphans

Hello: Princess Charlene’s adorable twins take centre stage at traditional picnic

Telegraph: French journalist ‘secretly recorded demanding £2 million in blackmail from King of Morocco’

BBC: George IV’s daughter Princess Charlotte items to be sold in Essex
Daily Mail: The night Jack Nicholson ‘offered Princess Margaret cocaine’: New book claims Queen’s sister declined drugs and danced with John Travlota instead
Daily Mail: Jolly hockey sticks! Countess of Couture Sophie Wessex wears a £935 Peter Pilotto dress for knock-around with her daughter – before they cheer England team to gold medal
Daily Mail: 19th century Princess Charlotte memorabilia goes on sale
Daily Mail: ‘Black spider’ memos show Prince Charles lobbied Alex Salmond over a stately home, a castle and his own Highlands food brand
Daily Mail: Hero soldier who carried Princess Diana’s coffin says Ministry of Defence ‘tossed him aside’ after he lost a leg and left the Army
Daily Mail: GIRL ABOUT TOWN: Fergie’s new $1,000-a-go ‘guru’ whose services including relaying messages from the dead
Daily Mail: Reg Traviss: My big break, with Prince Charles’s cash – How the late Amy Winehouse’s boyfriend got film career off the ground
Getty Images: The Countess of Wessex Attends The Unibet EuroHockey Championships
Guardian: Prince Charles’s black spider memos show lobbying of Alex Salmond
Hello: Prince Harry jokes: ‘I am a bad uncle for missing Charlotte’s christening’
New Zealand Herald: The night Jack Nicholson ‘offered Princess Margaret cocaine’
Telegraph: Interactive map: see Queen Elizabeth II’s 265 overseas visits in her record-breaking reign
Telegraph: Prince Charles “black spider” letters to Alex Salmond
Telegraph: Jack Nicholson ‘offered Princess Margaret cocaine’ book claims
Telegraph: Which monarchs had the longest and shortest reigns?


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King Henry I of England

by Susan Flantzer

King Henry I of England; Credit – Wikipedia

King Henry I is the tenth longest reigning British monarch, reigning 35 years, 120 days. He became King in 1100 at about the age of 32 and reigned until his death in 1135 at about the age of 67. Henry was the fourth and the youngest son of William the Conqueror (King William I) and Matilda of Flanders. His birth date and birth place are uncertain, but he was probably born between May 1068 and May 1069 in Selby, Yorkshire, England. Henry had three brothers and at least five sisters:

It seems that Henry received a good education, learning to read and write in Latin and also studying English (unusual for the time) and English law. As a younger son, it is probable that his destiny was to enter the Church. He earned the nickname “Beauclerc” (fine scholar), of which he was very proud. Later in life he said that “an unlettered King was but a crowned ass.” Contrary to plans, Henry was knighted by his father in 1086.

In 1087, King William I divided his lands between his two eldest surviving sons. Robert Curthose was to receive the Duchy of Normandy and William Rufus was to receive the Kingdom of England. Henry was to receive 5,000 pounds of silver and his mother’s English estates. After his father died in 1087, Henry was constantly being forced to chose between his two brothers and whichever brother he picked, he was likely to annoy the other. In 1096, Robert left for the Holy Land on the First Crusade. In order to raise money for the crusade, he mortgaged the Duchy of Normandy to his brother King William II. The two older brothers made a pact stating that if one of them died without heirs, both Normandy and England would be reunited under the surviving brother. On August 2, 1100, King William II was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest. Robert was still on Crusade, so Henry was able to seize the crown of England for himself. The day after William’s funeral at Winchester, the nobles elected Henry king and he then left for London where he was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

On November 11, 1100, Henry married Edith of Scotland (renamed Matilda upon her marriage), the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland.  Through her mother, Matilda merged the bloodline of the Anglo-Saxon kings with Henry’s Norman bloodline. Saint Margaret was born an Anglo-Saxon princess. Her father was Edward the Exile also called Edward Ætheling, the son of King Edmund Ironside (King Edmund II).

Henry and Matilda had two children:

In 1101, Robert Curthose tried to recapture the crown. His campaign failed, and under the Treaty of Alton, Robert recognized Henry as King of England. Four years later, Henry led an army across the English Channel to Normany to avert another threat by his brother Robert. Henry defeated the Norman army in the Battle of Tinchebray, imprisoned his brother, and annexed the Duchy of Normandy as a possession of England.

On November 25, 1120, William Ætheling, Henry’s only legitimate son, was returning to England from Normandy when his ship hit a submerged rock, capsized and sank. William Ætheling and many others drowned. See Unofficial Royalty: The Sinking of the White Ship and How It Affected the English Succession.

King Henry I holds the record for the British monarch with the most illegitimate children, 25 or so illegitimate children, but the tragedy of the White Ship left him with only one legitimate child, his daughter Matilda. Henry’s nephews were the closest male heirs. In January of 1121, Henry married Adeliza of Louvain, hoping for sons, but the marriage remained childless. On Christmas Day of 1226, King Henry I of England gathered his nobles at Westminster where they swore to recognize Matilda and any future legitimate heir she might have as his successors. That plan did not work out.

Henry died on December 1, 1135. He had fallen ill after eating a number of lampreys against his doctor’s advice. It is possible the cause of death was ptomaine poisoning. Henry was buried in Reading Abbey in Reading, England, which was mostly destroyed during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. In March of 2015, it was announced that after the successful search for the remains of King Richard III, a search for King Henry I’s remains would be conducted under the ruins of Reading Abbey.
BBC: A search for bones of Henry I is planned in Reading

Upon hearing of Henry’s death, Stephen of Blois, one of Henry’s nephews, quickly crossed the English Channel from France, seized power, and was crowned King of England on December 22, 1135. This started the terrible civil war between Stephen and Matilda known as The Anarchy. England did not see peace for 18 years, until Matilda’s son acceded to throne as King Henry II of England in 1153.

Wikipedia: King Henry I of England

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August 31: Today in Royal History

Diana, Princess of Wales; Photo Credit –

August 31, 1422 – Death of King Henry V of England at Bois-de-Vincennes, France, buried at Westminster Abbey
Wikipedia: Henry V of England

August 31, 1678 – Death of Louis VII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt in Gotha (Germany)
Wikipedia: Louis VII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt

August 31, 1724 – Death of Louis I of Spain in Madrid; buried at Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real in Spain
Wikipedia: Louis I of Spain

August 31, 1880 – Birth of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in The Hague, The Netherlands
Full name: Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Marie
Wikipedia: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands

August 31, 1970 – Birth of Rania Al-Yasin, wife of King Abdullah II of Jordan, in Kuwait City, Kuwait
Unofficial Royalty: Rania Al-Yasin

August 31, 1989 – Anne, Princess Royal separates from her first husband Mark Phillips
BBC: On This Day 1989: Royal couple to separate
Wikipedia: Mark Phillips
Unofficial Royalty: Anne, Princess Royal

August 31, 1997 – Death of Diana, Princess of Wales in Paris, France; buried at Althorp in Northamptonshire, England
Unofficial Royalty: Death of Diana, Princess of Wales