On This Day 22nd September 1515
On 22nd September 1515 in the Duchy of Julich-Cleves-Berg, a daughter, Anne, was born. Anne of Cleves was one of four children and was brought up strictly by her mother Maria, Duchess of Julich in her own right. The court of Cleves was heavily influenced by the thinking of Erasmus, but did not formally adhere to Lutheranism. This moderate position, and the position of Anne’s brother-in-law, the Elector of Saxony, as head of the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League that opposed the Emperor, made her a very suitable choice for a wife for the King of England.
Henry became enamoured of the portrait of her by Holbein, and was eager to have her as his bride. Unfortunately, when they met in the flesh, he found her profoundly physically unattractive. She also had few of the courtly accomplishments that his previous wives had had. Nevertheless, the marriage took place, and Anne became Queen of England in 1539. Her jointure was generous - it was to be as ‘ample’ as that of the late Queen Jane Seymour. Unable to perform his marital duties, and no longer wishing to be in League with the Lutherans, Henry had the marriage annulled. Anne acquiesced, and continued to reside in England, apparently on excellent terms with Henry (now transmogrified into her ‘brother’) and his children. She received the castles of Hever and Richmond as part of the divorce settlement – not bad for 6 months work!
On This Day 21st September 1516
On 21st September 1516 Matthew Stuart, later 4th Earl of Lennox, was born. His grandfather, the second earl had been killed at Flodden, and his father, the 3rd Earl, was in dispute for precedence with the Hamilton Earls of Arran and was murdered by one of his party in 1526. Following this, Matthew was sent to France, to be brought up with another branch of the Lennox Stuarts. Matthew spent most of his youth in France, hence the change in the spelling of his name from Stewart to Stuart. He was in the army of Francois I and fought with some distinction in the Italian Wars.
On the death of James V in 1542, when the Earl of Arran took the role of Regent, as heir to the baby Mary, Queen of Scots, Matthew returned to Scotland, during the War of the Rough Wooing. Initially, Lennox was an envoy of France, and it was rumoured that he planned to marry the widowed Queen Mother, Marie of Guise. So long as Arran remained pro-English, Lennox would remain pro-French. However, as the political landscape altered and Lennox changed allegiance. He joined the English party, and was rewarded in 1544 with marriage to the niece of the King of England, Lady Margaret Douglas.
Lady Margaret was also the half-aunt of the Queen of Scots. The Lennoxes had two sons who lived to adulthood. The eldest Lord Darnley married his cousin, Queen Mary, in 1565. Lennox had his Scottish estates restored, but, after Darnley’s murder, faction fighting broke out again. A brief period of regency for his grand-son, James VI, ended in Lennox being shot, possibly by one of his own men.
Picture shows the Lennoxes in mourning for their murdered son.
On This Day 20th September 1492
On 20th September 1492 Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick died, aged about 66, in Beaulieu Abbey. The Countess had led an extremely eventful, and tragic, life. Countess in her own right, in around 1450 she was married to Richard Neville, son of the Earl of Salisbury, nephew-by-marriage and key supporter of Richard, Duke of York. Her husband took her title, and became known as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’ for his involvement in the Wars of the Roses – first supporting York, then, when he understood that he could not have unlimited power, Lancaster. When Warwick was killed at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, Anne’s own Warwick lands were taken from her in an appalling act of injustice by her two sons-in-law, George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III. For a brief while, she was the mother of the Queen, when Richard III took the throne with Anne Neville beside him. In 1486, when Henry VII was victorious, the Countess petitioned for the return of her lands. She received some, but was obliged to disinherit her grandson, Edward Earl of Warwick, in favour of the King.
Reginald Pole, cousin and beneficiary of King Henry VIII, wrote vehemently against Henry in his book, De Unitate, with terrible consequences, for his mother and brother in particular. In this guest article, Samantha Wilcoxson, author of Prince of York: The Story of Reginald Pole, looks at why he may have done so.