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This fascinating book studies the life and times of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Henry VIII's dearest sister and his closest companion. Charles rose from being Henry's childhood friend to becoming the Duke of Suffolk; a consummate courtier and diplomat. Mary was always royalty. At first married to the King of France, Mary quickly wed Charles after Louis XII's death in 1515, against her brother's wishes. Their actions could have been construed as treason yet Henry chose to spare their lives. They returned to court and despite their ongoing disagreements throughout the years, especially over the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn, the Tudor Brandons remained Henry's most loyal subjects and perhaps more importantly, his beloved family.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Sarah-Beth Watkins works in publishing and has a BA in Social Policy. She grew up in Richmond, Surrey and began soaking up history from an early age. Her love of writing has seen her articles published in various publications over the past twenty years. Her history works are Ireland's Suffragettes, Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII and The Tudor Brandons.
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The Tudor Brandons
Mary and Charles â" Henry VIII's Nearest and Dearest
By Sarah-Beth Watkins
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 Sarah-Beth Watkins
All rights reserved.
1443–1494 The Brandon Ancestors
As Charles Brandon lay in his cradle, his father took to the field as standard-bearer for Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth, on 22 August 1485. This defining moment in history, when the Plantagenet dynasty ended and the Tudor began, was also to be a defining moment in this small child's life. Both Charles' father and his grandfather were soldiers in the Wars of the Roses and the events leading up to this momentous day. Coming from mercantile beginnings, the men of the Brandon family all rose to positions of importance, but Charles would rise higher than them all to become King Henry VIII's most favoured companion, and husband to his sister, Mary Tudor.
Whilst Charles' loyalties would always remain with his king, his forebears were caught up in the tumultuous years leading up to the beginning of the Tudor era. In Old Southwark and Its People, the author claims that the Brandon's 'low in their origin, became great lords in Southwark. They were ready to fight, and were not very scrupulous ...'. Charles' grandfather, William Brandon, certainly fits this description. Born around 1425, he was in service to the 3rd Duke of Norfolk by 1443 when the duke decided to reclaim Hoo Manor which had been granted to Sir Robert Wingfield by the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. William, along with the duke's men, attacked Wingfield's home in Letheringham, plundering and looting his house. Wingfield was understandably furious, and William was indicted for assaulting his family in the dispute, but, in a strange twist, he was forgiven and defected to Wingfield's side.
In December 1447 and January 1448, William Brandon had gone as far as going against the 3rd Duke of Norfolk to align himself with Wingfield and carry out his orders. He was indicted at the King's Bench for a series of offences including assault, theft, and threatening behaviour alongside Wingfield senior and his son Robert. It was alleged that on 6 December 1447 that the 3rd Duke of Norfolk's chaplain, Richard Hadilsay had complained that Robert the younger had threatened him. The duke, as a Justice of the Peace, asked Robert to desist but he refused and was incarcerated in Melton gaol. William Brandon, in a daring escapade with a small band of men, rescued Robert from prison on Wingfield's command. The Duke of Norfolk secured letters patent from King Henry VI ordering William Brandon and Robert Wingfield not to come within seven miles of him, but they spent Christmas at Wingfield's home in Letheringham, not far from the duke's house at Framlingham.
In another complete turnaround, by July 1455, William was back in favour with the duke who granted him, for good service, the custody and marriage of the heir of John Clippesby. Charles' grandfather was willing to change sides if it furthered his career and status but he cemented his relationship with the Wingfields by marrying Sir Robert's daughter Elizabeth around this time. Although we don't know the exact date, William the younger, Charles' father, was born around 1448 so it must have been around the time Brandon was acting on Wingfield's orders.
William Brandon the elder was appointed Marshal of the Kings Bench in 1457 and continued his service until 1460. The Brandon family had a house in Southwark, London, on the west side of Borough High Street. called Brandon Place where Charles would later reside. Close enough to the King's Bench prison so that William could undertake his duties, it was also not far from Southwark's other prisons, the Marshalsea, and the Clink further north. Southwark may seem a strange place for the seat of the Brandons given its notoriety in later times, but it was once a pleasant and prosperous area, home to many nobles and churchmen who wished to stay close to the seat of government at Westminster. The Court of the King's Bench was located at one end of the impressive Westminster Hall, the largest of its type in England, and heard criminal cases and those to be judged by the king, while the Court of Common Pleas, for civil cases, was located at the other end. William became familiar with both; in his role as marshal, but also as a defendant. When the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, by now the Earl Marshal of England, dismissed him for allowing the prisoners in his charge to wander at large, William contested his decision at the King's Bench but lost and a Thomas Bourchier took over his position.
William was aggrieved at the loss of his occupation but his relationship with the duke continued with no hard feelings. He remained loyal and resolute in the face of impending hostilities. On a snowy day, 29 March 1461, he rode out with the duke as one of his men to fight for the Yorkists and overthrow Henry VI and his Lancastrians in the Battle of Towton – England's bloodiest battle. Across frozen ground, the Lancaster and York armies took their positions with a blizzard swirling around them. Arrows and artillery shot rent the air. Then the carnage began, man on man, blades slashing, poleaxes slamming. The Lancastrians abandoned their positions and the fighting grew more savage, bloodier. As the day drew on, it seemed like the Lancastrians would have another victory as they had had at St Albans, but the duke, with William by his side, entered the battle with fresh reinforcements and swung the victory for York and for Edward IV.
Around 28,000 men died – huge losses on both sides. But this victory cemented Edward's claim to the throne and he rode into London in May as a king, and one ready for his coronation. Edward IV was crowned on 28 June 1461 in Westminster with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk officiating. It was a short-lived celebration for the duke who died not long after the ceremony, leaving his son to inherit his title. William Brandon immediately changed his allegiance to this young man and quickly began to exert his influence over him, becoming the 4th Duke's advisor. His hold didn't go unnoticed as the king derogatively referred to the duke as being nothing but William's puppet.
Aspersions have always been cast on the Brandon family's characters and it seems as if Charles' grandfather was no saint. His allegiance waxed and waned as did his fortunes. In the Easter of 1463, William was in court for debts he had incurred in 1460, probably when he was let go from his position as Marshal of the King's Bench. John Derby, a tailor, stated that on 1 April 1460, in Southwark, William Brandon bought from him certain parcels of woollen cloth for £6 8s 6d, including '7½ yards of murrey, 10½ yards of green, 6 yards of blue, 6 yards of black of Lyre, 10 yards of black lining, 1 yard of white kersey, 1 yard of tawny, 2 yards of red and 1½ yards of motley'. William promised to pay the debt and damages.
Still at Easter, he was again in court for negligence and debt occurring in 1459. A man named John Godde was in his custody at the prison for non-payment of cloth goods, but William had allowed him to leave before the debt had been recovered and the tailor, Robert Gylle, held him responsible. William had also bought goods from him in May of that year '4 yards of crimson dyed woollen cloth, 6½ yards of russet called 'Rone russet', 4 yards of musterdvilers, and 9½ yards of 'grene' for £6 7s 8d'. He had only paid 31s of this, and Gylle wanted damages settled for both situations. Back in court in 1465, William was again called to answer for another debt he had incurred in 1459. John Shukburgh, a draper, had sold William 'one hood ('penulam') of miniver, one hood of grey belly fur and a half hood of miniver for 40s' but again William had failed to pay. A case that came up two years later but had occurred in 1465 was one of an unpaid bond of £73 6s 8d made with a London goldsmith. He was living far beyond his means and was still racking up debts as he was in court.
In 1469, Edward IV's reign was in trouble when Warwick the Kingmaker imprisoned him in a bid to make his younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, the rightful king. The country was plunged into turmoil. For some it gave them the chance to commit acts of lawlessness, to further family disputes, and claim what might not have been rightfully theirs. Caister Castle, for instance, had been built on the site of a manor house in 1455 by Sir John Fastolf, a seasoned soldier who had fought during the Hundred Years' War. Having been born in the original house, he wished to build a fortified castle with its own armoury, bakery and brewery and a tower, 90ft high, on the site. Fastolf intended that, after his death, the castle should become a chantry where his soul could be prayed for. But John Paston, who had been Fastolf's advisor and executor of his will, claimed that Caister had been left to him. The 3rd Duke of Norfolk had contested the will in his time and for a brief period in 1461 held the castle, until Edward IV told him to return it to the Pastons. Eight years later, the 4th Duke, goaded on by William, took the opportunity to lay siege to it. The duke led the attack of 3,000 armed men with four of his most trusted men by his side – John Heveningham, Thomas Wingfield, Gilbert Debenham and, of course, William Brandon. After five weeks, the Pastons surrendered and Caister was seized.
William seems to have been in the thick of the dispute that ensued. John Paston wrote that:
Thomas Wingfield told me, and swore unto me, that when Brandon moved the king, and besought him to show my lord favour in his matters against you, that the king said unto him again "Brandon, though thou canst beguile the Duke of Norfolk and bring him about the thumb as thou list (like), I let thee weet thou shalt not do me so; for I understand thy false dealing well enough." And he said unto him, moreover, that if my Lord of Norfolk left not of his hold of that matter(Caister) that Brandon should repent it, every vein in his heart, for he told him that he knew well enough that he might rule my Lord of Norfolk as he would, and if my lord did anything that were contrary to his laws, the king told him he knew well enough that it was by nobody's means but by his ...
Edward may have been wary of William and mistrustful of his dealings. He certainly blamed him for the duke's actions but William was no serious threat. He was loyal as it suited him and he fought for the king on the Yorkist side at the Battle of Tewkesbury in the May of 1471, for which he was knighted. He was also one of ten knights who swore allegiance to Edward's son, the Prince of Wales, on 13 July 1471 and continued to serve his king without causing any further disagreements.
He was again with the king as one of Edward's loyal men when they descended on Calais in June 1475 after war was declared on France. The mission was unsuccessful. Edward had been expecting military support for the battle ahead from the Duke of Burgundy but it was not forthcoming. The king was forced to make a treaty with the French – the Treaty of Picquigny – which gave him a payment of 75,000 crowns on signing and 50,000 crowns annually to add to his treasury, swelling England's coffers. The men returned home to an England that was finally at peace after years of war and unrest.
Edward had once been a handsome, strong and athletic king, but in recent years he had gained weight and given up the sports of his youth. At forty, he was still an impressive figure and England was content under his reign. No one expected his sudden death in the April of 1483 or the tumult of political upheaval that occurred after his demise. His will left the crown to his eldest son, Edward, with his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, becoming Protector. His son should have been crowned as Edward V – instead he was imprisoned in the Tower with his younger brother, Richard, and never seen again. The Duke of Gloucester became Richard III, England's new monarch, and all was not well.
Sir William Brandon attended the new king's coronation but the loyalty he had shown Edward did not continue with Richard III. William, who had seen so much turmoil and fought in battles hard won, now took part in the swell of dissatisfaction that swept over England. The people had grown to love Edward and his boys. This new king – a child murdering usurper some might say – was unwelcome not just by the people but by the nobles who had faithfully served Edward.
The Buckingham Rebellion of 1483 came as a shock to the new king. The Duke of Buckingham appeared loyal. He was instrumental in Richard's king-making and had organised his coronation in July. Buckingham had been there when Edward's sons, the two young princes, had been escorted to the Tower and seemed to truly be Richard's man. He was richly rewarded for his loyalty by being made constable of England and chief justice and chamberlain of north and south Wales and it seemed he would have no cause to turn against Richard. Yet just months later, in October, he was involved in a well-organised plan to replace Richard with Henry Tudor.
The rebels included Charles' grandfather, Sir William, and Charles' father, William the younger, as well as Uncle Thomas and cousin, John Wingfield. They refused to accept Richard's reign and backed the young Henry Tudor's claim to the throne. Henry's father Edmund was the illegitimate son of Owen ap Tudor, once lover and husband of Katherine de Valois, the widow of Henry V. Through his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, he was descended from John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of Edward III and his third wife Katherine Swynford. All four of this couple's children were born before they were married but legitimised by papal bull after their nuptials. The children were given the surname Beaufort but they were specifically excluded from the royal succession, as were their heirs. This did nothing to dissuade Henry's mother, Lady Margaret, from raising her son in the absolute belief that he was the true king of England.
The plan was that Henry Tudor would travel from his exile in France to land along the south coast of England with an army of Breton mercenaries, and meet up with Buckingham and his rebels who would travel from Wales to London gathering their forces from the West Country, Wiltshire and Berkshire. Meanwhile, men from Surrey, Kent and Sussex would descend on the capital to engage with Richard III, distracting him so that Buckingham and Tudor's forces could amass and descend on London.
But something went wrong. Some of the Kent men, probably inflamed by a rumour that Edward's sons, the princes in the Tower, had been murdered, advanced on the city eight days too early and were met by the Duke of Norfolk (by now John Howard, after the 4th Duke died without male heir in 1476) and his men. Buckingham had not even left Wales. Richard, on finding out about the rebellion, had sent men to destroy any bridges over the Severn so that Buckingham and his men could not cross and join forces with Henry Tudor.
Buckingham's plan was falling apart. Henry had sailed for England but his fleet was buffeted by a colossal storm and his ships scattered. He reached Poole but sailed onto Plymouth. He was too wary to put ashore after being hailed by a band of soldiers who told him that Buckingham had triumphed and was waiting for him inland. Henry distrusted the men, sensing a plot to capture him, and he sailed back to Brittany, his conquest of England postponed.
Buckingham's army had also been besieged by the storm and as well as the bridges having been destroyed, the Severn was now too swollen and dangerous to cross in any other way. Buckingham's men deserted and the duke was forced to hide in the house of one of his men, Ralph Bannister (or Banastre) of Lacon Hall, near Wem in Shropshire. Tempted by the £1,000 on his head, Bannister betrayed him to John Mytton, the Sheriff of Shropshire. He was arrested and taken to the Blue Boar Inn in Salisbury. On the 2nd November, All Souls Day, he was beheaded in the marketplace. Richard III had refused to see him or hear his pleas for mercy. It was a wise move. His son later claimed that his father had upon him a knife which he would have used to kill the king.
Afterwards, Richard III wrote of Buckingham that he was 'the most untrue creature living'. But it appears that Buckingham was really only the figurehead of the rebellion. True, he turned away from the man he had helped to make king, but rebels like the Brandons had been plotting and planning well before he became involved. It is hard to see why Buckingham took such a risk when he had so much to lose. The real ringleaders of the rebellion were more likely to have been Henry Tudor's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort and her ally Bishop Morton of Ely. The bishop had been Buckingham's prisoner, albeit living quite comfortably in his household, and had had ample opportunity to enlist Buckingham to their cause.
The rebellion had clearly ended badly and it was time for the Tudor faction to reconsider their plans. Henry Tudor was back in Brittany and many of his supporters, now outlawed, fled to join him. Sir William Brandon hid in Colchester while his sons William the younger and Thomas Brandon went on the run. It was now the sons' turn to ally the Brandon family with Henry Tudor, but for those involved with the rebellion things were getting dangerous. Richard issued a proclamation in Kent offering 300 marks or £10 of land for the capture of rebel leaders, Sir John Gilford, Sir Thomas Lewkenor, Sir William Haute and others. In the case of William Brandon the younger, Charles' father, John Wingfield and several others, £100 or 10 marks of land were offered for their capture. Charles' uncle, Thomas, seems to have escaped notice. In December 1483, William the younger was required to relinquish his Essex estate, because of his rebel activities, to Thomas Tyrell, his wife's brother-in-law from her first marriage, but he refused to give it up. Three hundred men were sent to turn him out of his house and home.
Excerpted from The Tudor Brandons by Sarah-Beth Watkins. Copyright © 2015 Sarah-Beth Watkins. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter One: The Brandon Ancestors,
Chapter Two: The Princess and the Knight,
Chapter Three: Henry VIII's Court,
Chapter Four: The French Marriage,
Chapter Five: Mary & Charles,
Chapter Six: Married Life,
Chapter Seven: A Hostile World,
Chapter Eight: The Trouble with Boleyn,
Chapter Nine: After Mary,
Chapter Ten: Family Matters,