The Tudor Society
  • 7 September – Charles Brandon marries Catherine Willoughby

    On this day in Tudor history, 7th September 1533, just over two months after the death of his previous wife, Mary Tudor. Queen of France, forty-nine-year-old Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, married his ward, fourteen-year-old Catherine Willoughby.

    Find out more about this Tudor couple, how they came to be married, what their marriage was like, and what happened to them, in today’s talk.

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  • Tony Riches’ Charles Brandon live chat transcript

    We had a wonderful live chat in the Tudor Society chatroom last weekend with author Tony Riches. The topic was that famous Tudor man, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, one of the few people to be close to the king and keep his head.

    Here is the chat transcript for those who couldn’t make it live. Our next live chats are on 24th August (informal on the Stewarts/Stuarts) and 30th August (Expert live chat with Cassify Cash on Shakespeare).

    Simply click on the link below to open and read:

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  • 3 March – A secret marriage for Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk?

    3rd March 1515 is one of the dates given in the French contemporary sources for the secret marriage of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, but did the couple really marry on this date?

    In today’s “on this day in Tudor history”, I examine the English and French sources, such as letters and chronicles, to see which date they support for the couple’s secret marriage.

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  • Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk (c.1484-1545)

    Charles Brandon was one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors and friends. He married the king’s sister, even when he had been trusted not too, and eventually married a lady thirty-five years younger than him.

    Being someone who was so close to Henry VIII, what was Brandon’s real purpose? What did he achieve in his lifetime? And, how did he rise so high?

    Charles Brandon was born around 1484 and was one of two sons born to Sir William Brandon and Elizabeth Bruyn of South Ockendon. His father was Henry VII’s standard-bearer at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, which is where he is said to have been killed by Richard III himself. King Henry VII saw how loyal William had been to him, so, therefore, chose to repay this debt by having his son, Charles, brought up at his court. Charles was just two years older than Henry VII’s eldest child, Prince Arthur, but when Arthur married the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon, in 1502, Charles did not join them at Ludlow Castle. Instead, he stayed in London and got to know Arthur’s younger brother, Henry, Duke of York.

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  • 7 September 1533 – The marriage of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and Catherine Willoughby

    On this day in history, 7th September 1533, the same day that Queen Elizabeth I was born, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, married Catherine Willoughby.

    This was the duke’s fourth marriage. He was about forty-nine years old and Catherine was just fourteen. She was the daughter of William Willoughby, 11th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, and his wife, Lady Maria de Salinas, a woman who had come over from Spain with Catherine of Aragon in 1501 as one of her ladies. Suffolk had acquired the wardship of Catherine Willoughby in 1529 and had originally intended to marry her to his son, Henry, 1st Earl of Lincoln. However, following the death of his third wife, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, it appears that Suffolk took a liking to his ward, or rather the money and lands that he would gain by marrying her. Their marriage took place less than three months after Mary’s death.

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  • What is Mary Tudor holding in the portrait of her and Charles Brandon? Is it an artichoke?

    Thank you to Simon for asking the question “What is Mary Tudor holding in the portrait of her and Charles Brandon? Is it an artichoke?”. I knew just the right person to send this question to! I sent it to art historian and author, Roland Hui, who has actually written a very detailed article on this painting (link at bottom). Thank you Roland!

    The object in Mary Tudor’s right hand is an artichoke, which interestingly enough is shaped like a royal orb. It is uncertain why Mary is pictured with one, but as artichokes were grown in the south of France, it may have been used to allude to her as France’s former Queen. As well, it might have been meant as a symbol of love and fecundity. Artichokes were said to be sacred to Venus/Aphrodite, the Classical goddess of love and beauty.

    The staff emerging from the artichoke is a winged caduceus. This was the magical wand associated with the god Mercury/Hermes. There was an old legend that Mercury had come upon two battling snakes. To make peace between them, the god separated the two with a stick. The serpents then wrapped themselves around it. This uniting of opposites was a fitting representation of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon’s marriage – the merger of ‘cloth of gold’ and ‘cloth of frieze’ as the couple were described in an inscription on the Yarnborough version of the painting. However, to make the caduceus (and the artichoke) appear less ‘pagan’, the wand is also in the form of a Christian tau-shaped cross.

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  • 13 May 1515 – The marriage of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

    On this day in history, Sunday 13th May 1515, Mary Tudor, dowager queen of France and sister of King Henry VIII, married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, at Greenwich Palace, following their secret marriage in France. They were married in the presence of the king, Queen Catherine and the court.

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  • Mary Tudor, Queen of France

    This week’s video is by Sarah Bryson and is on Mary Tudor, Queen of France, daughter of King Henry VII and sister of King Henry VIII.

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  • Thomas Brandon

    The third article in Sarah Bryson’s series on prominent Tudor courtiers…

    In this article, I will be exploring the life of Thomas Brandon, uncle to the more famous Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. Thomas Brandon served five kings during his lifetime; however, it was under the rule of King Henry VIII that he breathed his last. Frustratingly little is known about Thomas Brandon’s early life and most information that we have today comes from his adult years and the latter years of his life serving the Tudor King’s, Henry VII and Henry VIII.

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  • Tattershall Castle

    Sarah Bryson talks about her time visiting Tattershall Castle, and the wonderful history of the site. Her highlight? The 20 mile view from the top of the Tudor tower.

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  • Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel

    Sarah Bryson talks about some of the history of Windsor Castle, and shares what it was like to see Charles Brandon’s Garter Place in St Georges Chapel.

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  • Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk’s memorial

    Today is the anniversary of the death of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, who is also known by her married names of Brandon and Bertie.

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  • Henry VIII’s 1524 Jousting Accident by Sarah Bryson

    King Henry VIII held a great love of jousting. As a young teenager Henry had been denied the ability to joust in competitions as he was the sole heir to the throne. His father, Henry VII, feared his son may be injured or even worse killed. Yet when Henry came to the throne in 1509 he was extremely athletic and quickly took to the excitement and chivalry of the joust.

    Throughout the early years of his reign Henry VIII participated in many fabulous jousting events, one of those being on 10th March 1524. However, the joust this day would not go as planned for the King and he faced a near disaster, one which could have ended his life.

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  • The Marriage of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

    In today’s Claire Chats I talk about the secret marriage of Mary Tudor, dowager Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, in 1515.

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  • 1 February 1514 – The Making of Two Dukes by Sarah Bryson

    On Candlemas Eve,* 1st February 1514, Henry VIII formally elevated two men to the title of Duke. Charles Brandon, formerly Viscount Lisle, was created Duke of Suffolk, and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, was created 2nd Duke of Norfolk. The ceremony took place at Lambeth and was conducted by the King.

    Along with the nearly created Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, the only other duke in the Kingdom was Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham was a descendent of Thomas Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III. In addition to this, his mother was Katherine Woodville, sister of the late Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV. At the time, Buckingham was also the richest peer in England, with an annual income of around £6000 per year (£2,902,620.00) as well as being High Steward of England and a Privy Councillor. These positions gave Stafford a great deal of power. With royal blood running through his veins and an arrogant attitude, Buckingham was a regular member at court but it was reported that he often made those around him feel uncomfortable.

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  • The Marriage of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor by Sarah Bryson

    On 14th January 1515, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, was sent to France under orders from Henry VIII to bring back Henry’s sister, the newly widowed Mary Tudor. Brandon would see to Mary’s safe return, but she would not be a widow on her return but, instead, a newly married woman.

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  • Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk by Sarah Bryson

    Born on the 22nd March 1519, Katherine Willoughby was the daughter of William, 11th Baron Willoughby, and his wife Maria De Salinis, one of Queen Katherine of Aragon’s ladies. When Katherine was just seven years old. her father died and with no male son surviving Katherine was his heir. In March 1528 Charles Brandon bought the wardship of Katherine from the King for a staggering £2,266 13s 4d with the intention of marrying Katherine to his son Henry. Katherine then came to live with the Brandons to be raised.

    Charles Brandon’s third wife, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, died between seven and eight o’clock in the morning on the 25th June 1533. Her funeral was held on the 20th July 1533 at Bury St Edmunds. Katherine attended the funeral and she and her mother brought forward palls of cloth of gold to the altar.

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  • 25 June 1533 – The death of Mary Tudor, Queen of France

    Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.[/caption]Mary Tudor, Queen of France, was the younger sister of King Henry VIII. Born to King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York in 1496, Mary was one of eight children and one of only three to survive to adulthood. Tragedy struck Mary at just seven years of age when her older brother and heir to the throne, Arthur, died in 1502. Less than a year later, Mary’s mother Elizabeth of York died trying to give Henry VII another son. Then, when Mary was eight years old, her older sister Margaret, then fourteen, left England for Scotland to marry King James IV. Mary and her older brother Henry were the only two siblings left in England and it has been suggested that during this time, growing up together, they formed a close bond which survived until Mary’s death.

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