Mary Tudor

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Mary Tudor (1495–1533), queen of France and duchess of Suffolk. Mary Tudor was Henry VIII's younger sister and from her descended the claim of Lady Jane and Lady Catherine Grey to the throne. Her mother Elizabeth of York died when she was 7 and the same year her elder sister Margaret married James IV of Scotland. In 1508, when she was 13, she went through a marriage contract with the future Emperor Charles V. But in 1514, as the result of a diplomatic bouleversement, she was married to the elderly king of France, Louis XII. ‘She is very beautiful’, wrote a Venetian merchant, ‘and has not her match in all England—tall, fair and of a light complexion, affable and graceful.’ Her ailing husband claimed to have performed valiantly on the wedding night but the court wondered whether the marriage had been consummated. She was queen of France for three months, her husband dying on 1 January 1515. She had previously claimed from Henry the right to choose for herself should she be widowed and within a few weeks had made a private marriage to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, sent to France to congratulate the new ruler. A public marriage at Greenwich followed in May 1515. The haste of the marriage seems to have been on Mary's side, agitated that she would be used as a pawn in French diplomacy and impressed by Suffolk's prowess at jousting. Her brother's wrath was assuaged by gifts of money and jewels. Her daughter Frances, born in 1517, married the marquis of Dorset and was the mother of Lady Jane Grey, proclaimed queen in 1553.

J. A. Cannon

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Mary Tudor

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