Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Marianna Martines: An "Incomparable" Musician "Endowed with Superior Genius"

Anna Catharina ("Marianna") Martines (died 13 December 1812)


Born in Vienna on 7 4 May 1744, the musician Anna Catharina Martines was the daughter of Nicolo Martinez and his wife, Maria Theresia.

Anna Cathariana--"Marianna"--Martines
Her surname, unusual in Austria, was from her paternal grandfather, a Spanish soldier who had settled in Naples. Martines's father, Nicolo, was born in Naples, took up his father's military career and became a soldier, serving in the forces of the Habsburg Archduke Charles, whose claim to the Spanish throne triggered the War of the Spanish Succession. Charles did not become the Spanish king, but he was elected as Holy Roman Emperor in 1711.

As for Nicolo, he had come to Austria with Charles's forces and married the Austrian Maria Theresia. in order to remain in Austria, Nicolo turned from a military to a civilian career, taking up the post of papal nuncio, a diplomatic representative of the pope, in the Habsburg court.

His success in that role reflects his liberal education and his friendship with intellectuals and artists, like the Italian poet and librettist Pietro Antonio Trapassi, with whom the family shared a house in Vienna.

About Trapassi and his significance in her family, Marianna Martines would later write: "But in all my studies, the chief planner and director was always, and still is, Signor Abbate Metastasio [Trapassi's pseudonyym] who, with the paternal care he takes of me and of all my numerous family, renders an exemplary return for the incorruptible friendship and tireless support which my good father lent him up until the very last days of his life.”

As Martines notes, Trapassi oversaw her musical education. Under his direction, Anna Catharina, who would later rename herself Marianna, showed early promise as a musician, both as a singer, training with the Neapolitan composer Niccolò Porpora, and as a keyboardist, taking lessons with Franz Joseph Haydn. (Haydn seems to have lived in the same building in Vienna.)

Showing some promise as a composer, Martines began studying with the German composer Johann Adolph Hasse and with Giuseppe Bonno, an Austrian composer (of Italian origins, as his name suggests), who was a composer for the imperial court.

Marianna Martines would perform for the court as a child; as an adult, she would go on to perform for the Empress Maria Theresa.

Given her sex and social class, Martines did not have a professional appointment (like court musician), nor was she paid for her performances. However, although she remained in Vienna, she garnered a reputation throughout western Europe. She established a vocal studio, where she trained her own students, and she maintained professional friendships and associations with other musicians, including Mozart, with whom she is known to have performed.

Although she did not travel, Martines was elected to the Accademia Filarmonica (Philharmonic Academy) of Bologna in 1773 (the motet she composed for the academy was never performed, however.)

Marianna Martines,
portait by Peter Anton Lorenzoni
During her life, Martines is known to have composed over two hundred works in multiple genres. Her legacy survives in her musical compositions, about sixty-five of which are known to survive today.

As an interesting note, the English musicologist Charles Burney, the father of novelist Fanny Burney, saw Martines perform when he was in Vienna:
Her performance indeed surpassed all that I had been made to expect. She sung two airs of her own composition, to words of Metastasio, which she accompanied on the harpsichord, in a very judicious and masterly manner; and, in playing the ritornels, I could discover a very brilliant finger. To say that her voice was naturally well-toned and sweet, that she had an excellent shake, a perfect intonation, a facility of executing the most rapid and difficult passages, and a touching expression, would be to say no more than I have already said, and with truth, of others; but here I want words that would still encrease the significance and energy of these expressions. The Italian augmentatives would, perhaps, gratify my wish, if I were writing in that language; but as that is not the case, let me only add, that in the portamento, and divisions of tones and semi-tones into infinitely minute parts, and yet always stopping upon the exact fundamental, Signora Martinetz was more perfect than any singer I had ever heard: her cadences too, of this kind, were very learned, and truly pathetic and pleasing.
For an excellent and thorough essay on Martines, I recommend the entry at the Encyclopedia of World Biography, which you can access by clicking here. For the perspective of a musician, I recommend the essay on Martines posted by the Soprano in the City, 

For more information on Martines's surviving work, the Women of Note: Celebrating Two Hundred and Fifty Years of Music by Women website posts technical details (click here). Scores are available here, at the International Music Score Library.

There is also a full-length study, Irving Godt's Marianna Martines: A Woman Composer in the Vienna of Mozart and Haydn. 








Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Margaret Tudor: "Hail, Rose, Both Red and White"

Margaret Tudor, queen of Scotland (b. 28 November 1489)


The Tudors have long been a money-making proposition for novelists, filmmakers, and television networks, and while I myself have spent a lifetime fascinated with them too, I have to admit that Henry VIII's poor sisters have been rather neglected in this whole Tudormania thing.

Margaret Tudor, detail
from a painting by Daniel Mijtens,
probably around the time of her
marriage to James of Scotland
Take, for example, the case of Margaret Tudor--while she is a character in the vastly popular television series, The Tudors, it's her name that is used rather than her actual life story.

In the BBC2, CBC Television, TV3 Ireland, and, Showtime joint production, Henry VIII has only one sister, not two, and the lives of Margaret and Mary Tudor are tossed into a blender with a lot of nonsense. The result is a character with Margaret's name who is given given a great deal of Mary's life experiences to which a lot of unnecessary and confusing idiocy has been added. 

Margaret Tudor deserves better. And so here we go . . . *

Born on 28 November 1489, Margaret was the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, four years younger than their son and heir Arthur. Her paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, was present at her birth and supervised her granddaughter's education; though the English princess was, as her biographer Hester Chapman notes, "more carefully educated than most princesses of her day," Margaret Beaufort could not interest her namesake "in the intellectual projects for which she herself became celebrated."

In any case, by 1496 the English king was engaged in negotiations to arrange for the marriage of his first-born daughter. Henry VII had established his Tudor dynasty in 1485, with his defeat of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth. But his position was not unchallenged, and among those who were interested in unseating him was Margaret of York, sister of Edward IV and Richard III. 

Despite the fact that Henry VIII's queen was her niece, Elizabeth of York, the dowager duchess of Burgundy continued to intrigue against the king who had defeated and killed her brother. With her support, a young man named Perkin Warbeck had been acknowledged as one of the missing "princes in the Tower," Richard of York.46 In 1495, as "Richard IV," Warbeck was welcomed to the court of James IV.

The Scots king, evidently believing Warbeck's claims, had arranged for the marriage of the young "king" of England to a kinswoman, Lady Katherine Gordon. In response, Henry VII prepared for war--but he also attempted to gain the support of the Scots king in August 1556 by proposing a marriage with his daughter Margaret. The Scots king "replied," in Hester Chapman's words, "by an attempted invasion."
Margaret Tudor, kneeling,
in her coronation robes,
probably by Gerard Horenbout

But by 1497 James had agreed to withdraw his support from Warbeck, and he negotiated a seventeen-year truce guaranteeing peace with the English king. The marriage of the nine-year-old Margaret and the twenty-five-year-old James was to seal the treaty, but the king's plans were blocked by two formidable opponents: his wife and his mother. 

"The Queen and my mother are very much against the marriage," Henry indicated to the Spanish ambassador at his court, continuing, "They say if the marriage were concluded we should be obliged to send the princess directly to Scotland, in which case they fear the king of Scotland would not wait, but injure her and endanger her health." Margaret Beaufort, whose early pregnancy was widely believed to have permanently injured her, prevailed in this dispute, and her granddaughter's marriage was delayed.

The English king was not without some reservations of his own about the alliance. "Supposing, which God forbid, that all my male progeny were to become extinct and the kingdom devolve by law upon Margaret's heirs," he is reported to have reflected at the time of her betrothal. In such an eventuality, "Will England be damaged thereby or rather benefited?" 

But with two sons, the likelihood that Margaret would succeed to the throne as queen of England, while theoretically possible, was not great. And, as the king reasoned, if Margaret were to become queen, England would not suffer: "since it ever happens that the less becomes subservient to the greater, the accession will be that of Scotland to England."

The treaty that negotiated the marriage of King James IV and Princess Margaret was signed on 24 January 1502. The Tudor princess left for her new home in July of 1503, eighteen months later. Before she left England, her brother Arthur died, bringing her that much closer to the throne. 

Since her mother's death quickly followed, preparations for the young queen's departure were made by her grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. The new Scots queen remained with her grandmother at Collyweston for three weeks before setting off on her journey to Edinburgh on 8 July. On 30 July she crossed the border at Berwick. Margaret met her new husband for the first time on 3 August, five days before their marriage was celebrated.

When the new queen of Scotland arrived at Stirling, her dower castle, she found a nursery there already occupied by her husband's seven illegitimate children, including a daughter her own age. Since she did not immediately produce an heir for her husband, eighteen months after their marriage her husband legitimized his eldest son, James Stewart, earl of Moray. But on 21 February 1507, just three months after her seventeenth birthday, Margaret Tudor gave birth to a son.

Illustration of Margaret Tudor
and her husband, James of Scotland
He was baptized two days later and proclaimed "Prince of Scotland and the Isles and Duke of Rothesay," titles that, as Margaret's biographer Maria Perry notes, "clearly distinguished the little Prince of the blood" from that other James, the king's illegitimate son.

But the prince died a year later, on 27 February 1508; a daughter, born on the following 15 July, lived only a few hours. Margaret was pregnant again in 1509 when her father Henry VII died.

When Henry VIII succeeded his father as king of England, Henry VII's earlier questions about Margaret's status as heir to the English throne became more than hypothetical. For the moment, the queen of Scotland was the heir presumptive of the king of England; the child she was carrying might inherit the crowns of both Scotland and England. 

When Margaret gave birth to a son, Arthur, in October 1509, the prince's future thus seemed great. But this child, too, lived only a few brief months; by July of 1510, he was dead. Convinced that the deaths of his first three legitimate children were a judgment by God, James at first planned a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and then considered a crusade. 

Ultimately he settled on a visit to a shrine in Scotland instead. By 1511 Margaret was pregnant again; on 11 April 1512 the birth of another son, christened James, seemed to signal to the Scots king that God's favor had been restored. By May Margaret was pregnant again, for the fifth time, and in June Henry's English armies were routed in Spain.

Thus when his brother-in-law sent an embassy to Scotland, James felt the time was right to press the English king for a legacy due Margaret. In the midst of preparations for his planned invasion of France, Henry hoped to secure peace in the north; he would send Margaret's inheritance "on condition" that James "keep his oath . . . that none of us shall invade the other." 

Henry's ambassador indicated to Margaret that it was her responsibility "to preserve a good understanding between the two crowns." Margaret "promised to do her best for peace," but she also pressed for her legacy, which included jewels that had been left to her by her brother Arthur and a small bequest from her grandmother Margaret Beaufort.

Events overtook James IV of Scotland. In November Margaret's fifth pregnancy ended in the premature birth of a daughter who died within hours. James renewed his plan for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; to secure his safe passage through France, he agreed to send aid to Louis XII; the result was his excommunication. As her husband moved closer to declaring war on her brother, Margaret made one last appeal to Henry, sending him and Queen Catherine gifts and letter in which she addressed the king as "Right excellent, right high and mighty prince, our dearest and best beloved brother." 

"We cannot think that of your mind, or by your command, we are so fremdly [strangely] dealt with," she wrote, indicating that she was "ashamed" over the dispute about her legacy. She continued, "would God had never word been thereof," indicating that the matter was "not worth such estimation as in your diverse letters of the same." She concluded that, as queen of Scotland, "we lack nothing; our husband is ever the longer the better to us, as knows God."

When Anne of Brittany, queen of France, appealed to James IV of Scotland for his support of her husband against England, her appeal was couched in the terms of medieval romance. She sent the Scots king tokens and a request that he do battle on her behalf: "For my sake . . . march forth, were it only but three feet, on to English ground."

And if this failed to persuade him, she sent a more practical second letter enclosing money for his expenses. Margaret attempted to dissuade her husband with tears, accusations of infidelity, and anger: "What a folly, what a blindness . . . to make this war yours! Keep your promise to England, and enjoy peace at home. . . . Should [the French queen's] letters prove more powerful than the cries of your little son?"

Her husband's decision to go to war transformed Margaret from queen consort to queen regent; as he prepared to leave Scotland, James arranged for a regency government to be headed by his wife. The queen, for her part, continued to attempt to dissuade her husband from going to war against her brother, reminding him that the English were "a mighty people" and warning him that her dreams had given her omens of his failure. 

She also suggested a way out of the confrontation. She believed that Catherine of Aragon would accompany the English army, and Margaret proposed a meeting with the English queen: "I hear the queen my sister will be with the army in her husband's absence; if we shall meet, who knows what God, by our means, may bring to pass?" But there was to be no avoidance of conflict for James IV and Henry VIII. Catherine did not come north with her English army, and Margaret did not travel with her husband and his.

The Scots king crossed into England on 22 August. On 9 September he was dead, defeated at the battle of Flodden by the English troops his sister-in-law, Catherine of Aragon, had sent north. His seventeen-month-old son became James V of Scotland. Pregnant again, Margaret acted decisively upon receiving the news of her husband's death. According to Perry, the regent "moved with speed and resolution," securing her son in the safety of Stirling castle and ensuring his coronation twelve days later, on 21 September. 

She seized the treasury, then summoned a council that approved her husband's will designating her as regent, thereby becoming de facto ruler of Scotland. The new king and his mother were "styled" as "James, by God's Grace, King of the Scots and Margaret, Queen of Scotland and testamentary tutrix of the same."

In an interesting analysis of the situation in Scotland in the aftermath of Flodden, Perry writes that the "manhood of a nation had been wiped out." Margaret had become, in Perry's terms, "queen of a country full of despairing widows and fatherless young men." In the tide of violence that erupted, the queen regent acted to defend the country for which she was now responsible. A proclamation designed to prevent the violation of property and of women (a telling combination) was issued on 26 September, followed quickly by a second in the new king's name. 

Recognizing that the "wives and widows" of his father's supporters were "desolate," and acknowledging "their daughters . . . being heirs to them," it made rape and robbery of these women treasonable offences. Since many of these "desolate" women had no legal status, Margaret's council took up their cases, and to replace those council members lost at Flodden, Margaret suggested her own candidates for bishop to the pope. 

She also attempted to repair the break with England. A week after her son's coronation she wrote to her brother Henry asking him not to invade Scotland, and a month later sent a letter to her sister-in-law appealing for her consideration "in the blow" that had "fallen" upon her.

Margaret's position was a difficult one. She had to negotiate between those who desired revenge for Flodden and those who wanted peace. The situation was further complicated by the succession; the heir presumptive to the throne was now John Stuart, duke of Albany, who was in France at the court of Louis XII. 

Margaret's council wanted Albany recalled, though the French king, who said that he wanted to do "everything befitting an ally," cautiously wrote to know the regent's wishes. Henry VIII, meanwhile, saw himself as his nephew's "natural guardian" and wanted the boy sent to England; his ambassador informed Margaret that her son should be "ordered and ruled by the King's Grace."

It seems inevitable that the widowed and pregnant queen would find the question of her remarriage under discussion by both Louis and Henry. Anne of Brittany was ill, and the French king considered marrying Margaret Tudor himself even before his second queen died. By March, when Margaret was eight months pregnant, the English ambassador was writing to Henry that "by sundry reports that are made unto me, I am informed that if the French king be disposed to marry her upon knowledge thereof had, he shall have her at his pleasure." 

Henry, on the other hand, suggested a suitable marriage for his widowed sister might be to the Emperor Maximilian, whose heir Charles was Catherine of Aragon's nephew; the idea that Margaret would "make a good match" for the emperor was also noted in Venice. Both prospective husbands made offers for her hand in 1514, after the birth on 12 April of her second son, Alexander.

Margaret's situation seemed more stable immediately afterward, and the Scots nobility signalled its support of her and her regency: "Madame, . . . we are content to stand in one mind and will to concur with all the lords of the realm to the pleasure of our master the King's grace, your grace and for the common weal." 

But when her brother once again pressed her to send her sons to England--reminding her that, as he still had no children, James V was his heir--dissension was renewed. On 14 August she secretly married Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus. Since the Douglas family was an enormously influential one, her alliance with Angus had serious political implications, suggested by the immediate reaction of the council:
We have shown heretofore our willingness to honour the Queen contrary to the ancient law and custom of this kingdom. . . . We suffered and obeyed her authority the whiles she herself kept her right by keeping her widowhood. Now she has quit it by marrying, why should we not choose another to succeed in the place she has voluntarily left?
Margaret's decision to remarry illustrates one of the many dilemmas of women and rule. A mother's desire to protect her minor son's interests could lead her to ally herself with a powerful man, but such alliances brought risks with them. 

Margaret Tudor was a foreigner in the country of her regency. Although her marriage to James IV had confirmed the intended "perpetual peace" between the neighboring realms, tensions between the countries had persisted; after James IV's death, fear of English domination was renewed, fed by Henry VIII's influence over his sister and his interest in the guardianship of his nephews. Margaret herself contributed to these fears; she seemed to regard herself, in Chapman's terms, "as her brother's Vicereine."

By marrying Angus, Margaret might have intended to neutralize both foreign influence--French and English--and her own foreignness. But the council insisted she had terminated her regency by marrying without its consent; for her part, Margaret argued that James IV's will had not limited her regency in any way. 

She then proceeded to name Angus as co-regent, a move that did not help her situation. In response the council insisted that, by law, a widow who remarried forfeited the guardianship of her children; the nobles wanted Albany recalled and named regent in Margaret's place. Margaret again insisted that she had been named regent by the terms of her husband's will, that this will had made no conditions on her regency, and that it had been confirmed by an act of Parliament.

In addition to her legal position, Margaret counted on support of the people, to whom she could appeal "as the widow of their adored King and the mother of his children." She determined on a more conciliatory course and arranged to meet with the council once more, even agreeing to recall Albany. 

Arriving in Edinburgh on 12 September, she was "wildly cheered" by the people, their evident support convincing several more influential lords to her side. But it was not enough. She would later write that her "adversaries" had continued "in their malice and proceeds in their parliament, usurping the king's authority," as if she and her supporters "were of no reputation, reputing us as rebels." She retreated once more to Stirling with her sons.

By November her situation had become so tenuous that she appealed to Henry VIII for help. "I beseech you that you would make haste with your army, both by sea and land," she wrote in her desperation, noting that she was, as well, "at great expenses . . . and my money is near wasted." Henry's support would "revenge" her enemies, who had already laid siege to the castle of St. Andrews and who threatened a siege against her as well, but Margaret was aware, as well, of the memory of Flodden:
There is some of the lords that dread that your army shall do them scathe, and that their lands shall be destroyed with the fury of the army: wherefore I would that you wrote to them that their lands nor goods shall not be hurt, and, if so be, that they shall be recompensed double and treble.
Her opponents--her "party adversary"--had recalled Albany, and Margaret wanted her brother to prevent Albany's arrival in Scotland. Meanwhile, she planned to "keep this castle" with her children, who were well. In a subtle way she reminded her brother that his own interests lay in defending her and her sons: "The king, my son, and his brother, prosper well, and are right lifelike children." 

She appealed to him by claiming that "all the welfare of me and my children lies in your hands." Fearing that her enemies would "counterfeit" her letters, Margaret closed by telling Henry that if she was compelled to write to him "for concord," the letter would be signed merely "Margaret R." and "no more." If she wrote on her own, she would sign herself "Your loving sister."

But Henry did not enter actively into the conflict in Scotland. He had his own political interests to pursue. As his older sister Margaret struggled in Scotland, he had concluded his war with France. A treaty of peace between the two countries was signed on 7 August 1514, and as part of the peace, Henry arranged for the marriage of his younger sister Mary to the just-widowed Louis XII. 

On 13 August a proxy marriage was celebrated, but the new "queen of France" had only left England in October; thus in November Henry was was not interested in disturbing his relationship with France by invading Scotland. Instead he suggested that Margaret flee with her children and take refuge with him in England.

The Scots queen responded that she would be "gladder" to follow her brother's advice than to be made "the greatest lady of the world," but that it was "impossible to be performed by any manner of fashion" she, her husband, or their supporters could devise. On the one hand she was surrounded by "watch and spies" and feared to "disclose" her counsel to anyone "but God," and on the other she had no money and feared that her "poverty" would force her to "consent to some of their [her enemies'] minds." 

Her letter shows that she had still not given up on the idea that her brother would come to her aid with an army; she could "defend" herself from her "enemies," she wrote, if she had "sufficient expenses to [until] the coming" of Henry's help. Her letter contains, as well, a touching--and carefully calculated--picture of her special plight as queen: "If I were such a woman that might go with bairn in mine arm, I trow I should not be long from you, whose presence I desire most of any man." 

But Margaret was not "such a woman"; she was a queen and, for the moment, regent of Scotland. Relatively quickly, however, her regency came to an end. In January 1515 Louis XII died, and his successor Francis was not so interested in keeping Albany in France. Henry attempted to persuade the new French king to preserve the peace and prevent Albany from leaving; Henry would renew his treaty with France if Francis "would promise not to send the Duke of Albany into Scotland." 

For his part, Francis wanted the treaty renewed without conditions, and he got what he wanted. On 2 April Albany began his trip back to Scotland; on 5 April the English king and the French king renewed their peace treaty.

Albany arrived in Scotland on 17 May 1515, and at first his relationship with the regent was cordial. But on 12 July parliament declared him regent of Scotland, and he was formally invested with the "sword and sceptre" that symbolized his rule. Since it was obvious even to his supporters that his own claim to the throne precluded him from being the best guardian for the young king and his brother, custody of the princes was to be given over to others, selected by the queen but from a slate of candidates forwarded by parliament.  

Even in her defeat, Margaret demonstrated her political skill. She retreated into Stirling castle with her children, her husband, and a few servants. An eyewitness described her defiance of the delegation of lords who came to take custody of her children:
And when she saw the lords within three yards of the gates, she bade them stand, and demanded the cause of their coming. . . . They told her they had come from the duke [Albany] and parliament to demand "deliverance of the king and his brother." Without hesitation, she defied them, and then she caused the portcullis be letten down, and made answer, saying that the castle was her own feoffment, given to her by the king her late husband . . . and that her said late husband had made her protectrix, and given her authority to have the keeping and government of her said children, wherefore she could in no wise deliver them to any person.
"It was," as Maria Perry describes it, "a superb coup de théâtre, calculated to impress the crowds thronging the castle approach." It was, as well, a superb political statement, for the portcullis itself was "a device forming part of the Beaufort arms," which were in turn part of the "royal arms of England." 

Despite her husband's plea for her to surrender her sons and despite her own physical state--she was pregnant again--Margaret would not compromise. She had taken the only action she could take. While she waited for relief from her brother, who failed to come to her aid, and from her husband, who came to her aid but failed, she planned her strategy. 

If she was besieged, she would appear on the battlements, where she would "set the young King upon the walls in the sight of all persons crowned, and the sceptre in his hand," aware that such a display would make it "manifestly known to every person that the war shall be made against the King's own person."

On 6 August, Albany arrived outside Stirling with 7,000 men and heavy artillery, and the queen lost her nerve. She abandoned her plan and surrendered. In another deliberately calculated gesture, however, she made her son, the king, hand over the castle to Albany. In a letter to her brother dated 20 August, she seemed to be pleased with the turn of events, writing that her relations with the new regent were peaceful: "Brother, I am determined that I and my said cousin [Albany] shall take one part, for I know it is most for my profit." 

Through her "diligence" she wrote that she hoped to "keep the peace betwixt the realms" and expressed her desire that her brother would do likewise. She indicated that her children were also well: "I have presence of my children at my pleasure, and enter to them whenever I will."75 On the same day she consented to Albany's regency, handing over to him "charge and keeping of the King and his brother."

But both her letter and her "consent" had been coerced. She preserved the truth of the situation in a document she entitled "A remembrance of an information by me, Margaret queen of Scots." There she wrote about the disobedience of the lords and their threats to her, indicating that after her husband's death they had tried to force her marriage with Albany. 

As for Albany himself, he had sent "tokens" to her "for marriage": "Whereupon I was driven by force either to steal away and leave my said children or to marry . . . , seeing the suspicion that the said duke was in, and the pretence that his father made before him to the crown of Scotland." Her "tender children" had been forced from her, and all of her supporters, except Angus, had deserted her. She concluded:
And for to say that ever I was agreeable, content, or pleased that the said duke of Albany should come into Scotland, or that ever he did justice, or meddled with justice, but only vexed and troubled me and my friends, it appeareth in the said supplication, which I am ready to justify, point by point.
Her brother again offered Margaret asylum in England, indicating that she would be well provided for; she would lack neither "stuff, household, nor money." She arranged for her escape, outlining the plan in a "credence" given to Henry's representative Lord Dacre and forwarded to her brother. She began by describing the conditions of her life:
First, the said queen sheweth that the duke of Albany hath compelled and constrained her to subscribe and write diverse letters contrary to her own mind, and against all right and conscience; and [he] keepeth her so straitly in Edinburgh that neither she can nor may see nor send to the king and prince her children, nor to other her friends, for her relief and comfort in her causes, and therefore from thence she can make none escape.
Albany had also "withheld" from her "all the profits and revenues of her land," so that she found herself "at extreme poverty." Driven by such circumstances, she wrote, she would attempt to escape Scotland. She would "feign herself to be sick" and leave Edinburgh, retiring to Linlithgow, "with the consent of the said duke," where she would "take her chamber," naturally enough since she was nearing the end of her pregnancy; she was, she wrote, within "six weeks of her lying down." 

On the "first or second night of her coming thither" she would "depart without any man or woman with her" except her husband and "four or five servants" who would "not be privy to any part of her purpose." If her first attempt failed, she would try again, making sure some diversion--some "ruffling"--distracted Albany and his men.

But her initial plan was successful. After staying in Linlithgow for forty-eight hours, she disappeared on 13 September, spending a night in a stronghold that belonged to the Douglas family. She made an attempt to get her sons from Stirling castle, but abandoned that effort and arrived in England, quickly moving toward the fortress of Harbottle. There, on 7 October, she gave birth to a daughter, whom she named Margaret. She wrote to Albany on 10 October announcing the child's birth, asserting once more her rightful place as her son's regent and demanding her restoration.

Margaret's premature labor and delivery had weakened her, and she remained so seriously ill that she was not informed of the death, on 18 December, of Alexander, the younger of her two sons; the news was kept from her until she recovered somewhat. In March she was composing an eight-page catalog of the wrongs she had suffered in Scotland, and the story of her plight elicited much sympathy and support not only in England but throughout the courts of Europe, excepting, of course, in France.

Finally, in April, Margaret was strong enough to leave the north for London; Angus, however, had decided to come to terms with Albany and left for Scotland. The queen was reunited on 3 May 1516 with her brother, whom she had not seen since he was twelve years old.

She spent the next year in England, alternately pleading with Henry for political and financial support and negotiating with Albany for her return to Scotland. Albany, in the meantime, had had his own troubles with the fractious Scots lords and decided to return to France. 

The lords agreed to recall their queen; on 18 May 1517, twelve months after her arrival in England, Margaret Tudor left for Scotland once more, believing that she would resume her position as regent. Instead, when she arrived in June she was denied access to her son and learned that the regency had been offered to James Hamilton, earl of Arran. The grandson of James II, Arran was, after Albany, next in line to the throne. 

She also discovered that her husband had deserted her. In a letter to her "dearest brother" she wrote that she was "sore troubled" by Angus "every day more and more." He had taken control of her property and of her rents so that, she wrote, "I get never a penny." He had also taken a mistress, though she did not tell her brother so directly, alluding instead to another "evil" that she would "cause a servant" to "show Your Grace." She raised the possibility of a divorce, softening the news with something of an apology for the marriage in the first place and suggesting that a remarriage, if it occurred, would come at Henry's advice:
I am so minded . . . , an [if] I may by law of God and to my honour, to part with him, for I wit well he loves me not, as he sheweth to me daily. Wherefore I beseech Your Grace, when it comes to that point, as I trust it shall, to be a kind prince and brother to me, for I shall never marry but where you will bid me, nor never to part from Your Grace, for I will never with my will abide into Scotland.
Henry had not yet embarked upon his own efforts for a divorce, though by then he had begun his relationship with Elizabeth Blount. Nevertheless, he was offended by Margaret's suggestion that she would seek a divorce and occupied with his own personal and political affairs. 

Abandoned by her husband and his supporters, her appeals to her brother ignored, Margaret also found that the Scots lords had no intention of honoring the conditions they had agreed upon for her return; "the cause that I came hither most for was for the king my son's sake," she wrote to her brother, "and I am holden from him like a stranger, and not like his mother, which doth me great displeasure in my heart, considering I have no other comfort here but him." Arran, meanwhile, found himself outmaneuvered by Angus and his supporters and in a reversal took up the queen's cause. Together they decided to negotiate with Albany for his return to Scotland.

Margaret's decision to accept Arran's support and to recall Albany provoked warnings and admonitions from England, but no direct aid. For the first time, as Perry notes, Margaret seemed to see that her future lay in Scotland rather than in England: "I must cause me to please this realm, when I have my life here." 

Later, in explaining her decision, she was to describe her new determination: "I would be contented with" what "was for the good of the king my son's person," she wrote. That is, she had decided "that I should be a good Scotswoman." Thus the political game in Scotland continued. Albany returned from France on 18 November 1521. He seized power immediately, and Angus and his supporters were exiled. Albany and Margaret together resumed control of the government, the duke as regent and Margaret as queen mother. 

In responding to a series of fifteen charges leveled against her in England, Margaret replied in a long letter, written in 1522, to what she characterized as the "right sharp" articles. She began by asserting that, as she had gotten "no remedy" from her brother, she had determined to act for herself; "considering I am mother to the king of this realm," she wrote, she had acted for her son's honor and her own. 

She justified her break with Angus as well, who, "if he had desired my company or my love" would have acted "more kindly" toward her. She had sought Henry's assistance again and again, but it had not been forthcoming; although her brother had supported her "in general words," it "must be the deed" that would help. She rejected a series of rumors about her personal behavior, including one that she had begun a sexual relationship with Albany. She ended with a keen insight into the problems she had caused herself:
I took my lord of Angus against all Scotland's will and did him the honour that I could, where-through I lost the keeping of my sons, my house of Stirling, my rule of the realm which I had by right, that might not have been taken from me, and all this for his sake. . . .

[S]ince I took him at mine own pleasure, I will not be boasted [threatened] to take him now.
But relations between England and Scotland remained strained, and war threatened. Margaret worked ceaselessly to maintain the peace, her efforts earning her Henry's good graces once more. Henry suggested a marriage between his daughter, Princess Mary, and Margaret's son, James V, but the Scots parliament rejected his offer.

In 1523 Henry sent additional troops north and in June commenced a series of border raids. Albany, meanwhile, had been back in France for reinforcements and with those French troops entered England. He was forced to withdraw, and on 31 May 1524 he left Scotland for France, never to return.

After Albany's departure, Margaret wrote to her brother that her twelve-year-old son should "have his proper position of authority and throw off the governance usurped by Albany." Fearful of her intentions and of continued French influence in Scotland, Henry responded by advising Margaret to be reconciled with Angus, who had shown up at the English court and convinced the English king that he would support the English cause in Scotland. 

With Arran's support, she wrote to Henry rejecting his proposal that Angus should return to Scotland and the regency, asking him to "remember well" her many letters to him and "to make not long delay in helping of the king my son to put him to freedom and out of danger of his enemies, for now is the time." She minimized her political power and authority, reminding him, "I am but a woman and may do little." He, by contrast, could affect the situation for better or worse. If he ignored Margaret's advice--"do Your Grace the contrary"--it would affect James V; "the king my son will be the longer from his liberty and his person in danger."

But, as if to contradict her statement that as a woman she could do little, she told Henry that her son "will be ruled by me" and that she had "labored and broken many lords from the ways of the duke of Albany to his [her son's] way that he may be put out of danger and that he and his lords may rule this realm" with, of course, "the help and assistance" of Henry, in whom was "all" her "trust." 

She rejected any notion that Angus would "help" her brother or the cause for peace, attacking as well the idea that Henry should rely on the advice of others: "methinks, dearest brother the king, methinks that he [Angus] nor no other should be heard in that matter so well as I your sister, nor that you may get so much honor to do for their request as for me."

In August James V opened parliament flanked by his mother and the earl of Arran. The boy moved "to deprive the duke of Albany of his government," and after some opposition from Albany's supporters, the lords agreed. But by November 1526 Angus was in Scotland. 

As the parliament met, he seized control of Edinburgh. Margaret and the king were in Holyroodhouse, which the queen defended despite protests that she not oppose with force her "lawful husband." Angus retreated, and the parliament confirmed Margaret's regency.

Louise of Savoy, regent of France for her son Francis, responded to the situation immediately by offering the queen a pension and a renewal of an alliance with France. Margaret rejected the offer, however, and agreed at last to accept a reconciliation with Angus. But her agreement to be reconciled with her husband did not mean she intended to accept him as her husband.

She continued in her suit for a divorce, and she took a lover, Henry Stewart. As a result, her uneasy relationship with Angus broke down. He had custody of the king, and when he faced Margaret's army on the field, he had her son by his side so that she could not attack. The lord of Arran and many of Margaret's supporters deserted her and her cause, joining Angus instead.

Angus controlled the king entirely; he dismissed James's tutor and replaced the young king's household officials with Douglas supporters. On 14 June 1526 he had the king declared of age, but that did not mean that James was to rule. 

Angus defeated all attempts made by Margaret and Stewart to rescue the king. Late in 1527 Margaret finally received her divorce from Angus, and in April 1528 she married Stewart. Her brother was offended by her "foolish and evil" behavior, and in a moment of supreme blindness, since by this time he himself was seeking a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, he judged it "impossible for anyone to lead a more shameful life" than his sister. "Turn to God's word," he wrote to his sister, "and for the weal of your soul, avoid eternal damnation. . . . Relinquish the adulterous company of him that is not, nor may not be, of right, your husband."

Despite some initial objection to his mother's remarriage, the young king joined his mother and her new husband in May when he managed to escape from Angus. At last he entered into his majority and his role as king. In recognition of Henry Stewart's support and "for the great love I bear my dearest mother," he created Margaret's third husband the earl Methven. 

Together they besieged Angus and his supporters. Angus eventually surrendered in November 1528, leaving Scotland for England, taking with him his and Margaret Tudor's daughter, the thirteen-year-old Lady Margaret Douglas.

James V set about consolidating his power in Scotland, and for the next eight years, his mother and her husband were his most reliable advisers. Margaret mediated between her son and her brother, for Henry had continued to support Angus, who remained at the English court with Lady Margaret. When the alliance of mother and son was ultimately broken, as it was, the source of their disagreement was, ironically, James's marriage plans. 

The king, then twenty-five years old, wanted to marry his already-married mistress Lady Margaret Douglas of Lochleven, the mother of his son James Stewart. When he discovered that his mother had been in correspondence with her brother about his intentions, he sent her away from court. 

English ambassadors in Scotland reported to Henry VIII that Margaret was "weary of Scotland and fully determined to come into England." She had earned her son's "high displeasure" for having "intermeddled" in his affairs; specifically, she had tried to arrange a meeting between her son and her brother. James had accused his mother of receiving bribes "to betray him" from the English king.

Mother and son were reconciled, however, and the king abandoned his plan to marry his mistress. He arranged for a truce with England and even agreed to meet with his uncle; instead, when he left Scotland he went to France, where he planned to marry Marie of Bourbon, daughter of the duke of Vendôme. Once at the French court, however, he changed his mind, preferring the French king's fourteen-year-old daughter, Madeleine. They were married on New Year's Day 1537 and returned Scotland in May. By July Madeleine was dead.

Margaret, meanwhile, had resumed her role as regent of Scotland while her son was in France. She had also decided to divorce her third husband, Henry Stewart, but when her son returned to Scotland, he put an end to her suit. Pleading poverty and ill-treatment, Margaret turned once more to her brother; she would return to England. 

Then, within months of the death of his first queen, James married another French wife, Marie of Guise. After her arrival in Scotland, the new queen worked to reconcile her husband and his mother. Marie gave birth to her son James in May 1539 and quickly became pregnant again. The second child was also a boy, but disaster struck in April 1541 when the two young princes died within a week of one another. Margaret, who knew only too well the pain of losing her children, comforted her son and his wife.

Margaret Tudor died at Methven Castle as the year ended, on 18 October 1541. She was buried at the Carthusian Priory of St John in Perth. Her tomb was destroyed in 1559 when the priory was sacked by Calvinists in 1559.  A search for the site of her grave (also the site of the assassinated James I's burial) is now being made.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland: "Her Yoke Chafed"

Bona Sforza, queen of Poland (d. 19 November 1557)


Raised at the brilliant Renaissance court of Milan, Bona Sforza was well educated, her studies including the discipline of statecraft as well as languages, literature, and music, more traditional occupations for women.* And, by the way, she is Caterina Sforza's niece, the daughter of Caterina's half-brother, Giangaleazzo, and his wife, Isabella of Aragon (also, by the way, a Sforza, the daughter of Ippolita Sforza).  

Bona Sforza in 1517,
just before the year of her marriage
In 1518, Emperor Maximilian, the long-standing ally of Milan, arranged the young woman's marriage to Sigismund, the king of Poland; the formal wedding ceremony and coronation took place in Naples on 18 April 1518.

Bona proved to be successful wife, mother, and politician: as a wife and mother, she promptly bore her husband six children, including four daughters, Isabella, Sophia, Anna, and Catherine Jagiellon. 

As a politician, Bona proved herself skillful in maintaining good relations with the contending European powers, including Spain and the Habsburgs and France.

She was, in historian Roland Bainton's estimation, able to manipulate this "unstable balance" of powers to Poland's advantage by her "adroit and even devious diplomacy."

Nor did she ignore domestic politics, where her aim was to strengthen royal power. Thus "she undertook to make Poland a centralized national state in accord with the pattern emerging in Spain, France and England," working to check and balance "the power of the lords, lay and clerical."

She handled the appointment of bishops (with papal permission and her husband's consent), undertook agricultural reform, regained crown lands that had been granted to the nobility, and arranged for her ten-year-old son to be crowned king during his father's lifetime. 

She began a vast building program, provided for mercenary armies, and arranged a series of politically advantageous marriages for her children. Along the way she enriched herself as well as the royal treasury, which drew criticism, though her efforts "to relieve Poland by bringing in the revenues from her Italian estates" drew no praise. 

As her husband's health failed, Bona Sforza "became the real ruler of Poland," and whatever criticism she endured in her own day, her achievements have been recognized by some modern historians:
Bona exerted a powerful influence on the form of the modern Polish state not only by reason of her intellectual gifts but even more because she possessed a profound feeling for the essential needs of the state. She fused completely the foreign Italian strand with the emerging Polish national movement. In the social and economic sphere she aspired through her excellent reforms to create a strong authority based on just distribution of goods. In many respects Bona was ahead of her times and that was the tragedy of her life.
The "tragedy" of her life occurred after her husband's death, when Bona's son Sigismund Augustus, now king of Poland, rejected the political marriage his mother had arranged for him with Anne of Ferrara, daughter of the duke of Ferrara and his wife Renée of France, the daughter of Louis XII of France. 

Sigismund preferred Barbara Radziwill, daughter of a Lithuanian noble, whom he married secretly in 1547. Bona was not the only one to object to her son's marriage; the Polish diet insisted that Sigismund repudiate his bride, but at length, in the face of Sigismund's insistence, they accepted her.

Barbara died, childless, in 1551, and although Bona had reconciled herself to her daughter-in-law, she was suspected of having poisoned her. 

Bona was not reconciled to her son, however, and she decided to return to her Italian duchy of Bari for health reasons, as she claimed. Her son opposed her departure from Poland. "She wants to get back to Italy just to get her hands on all the properties of Bari, Rossano and Naples and to cut me off from my rightful inheritance from my grandmother," he objected, adding that as queen dowager she "should not be permitted to leave" Poland, even if it meant she should be imprisoned--"though it would grieve" him "greatly." It would, after all, be a "genteel incarceration." 

Bona Sforza in 1553,
also painted by Cranach the Younger
But the Polish diet agreed that Bona should be allowed to go, and she left Poland in November of 1556, nearly forty years after her marriage in 1518.

Bona's return to Italy gave her no peace, however. Philip II of Spain, having defeated the French in Italy, was determined that she should cede to him her claims in Naples and "appropriated" much of the income from her estates. She died in poverty in 1557 and was buried in Bari.

Despite her talents and abilities, Bona Sforza was resented in Poland, viewed with a mixture of dislike and suspicion.

Roland Bainton's assessment of her sounds a note that is by now very familiar:
Bona had several counts against her. She was a woman. Of course a woman could exert a powerful influence. Witness Isabella in Spain and Elizabeth in England. But Bona was resented in Poland, when as the old king grew enfeebled, she usurped authority, not only from him but also from the nobles. . . . A further count was that she was not Polish. Isabella was Castillian and Elizabeth an English Tudor. Italianism, was, to be sure, for a period very much the vogue in Cracow. At the same time many Poles resented the Italians and especially one reared in the atmosphere of the political intrigue characteristic of the despots of the Italian Renaissance. . . . Added to all this was her manner. Tomicki, her most faithful chancellor, confided to a complainer that the queen was imperious, blustering and badgering. Sometimes she was brutal. When a blind archbishop stood in her way she told him she wished he had lost not only his eyes but his tongue. Her yoke chafed.
There is no biography of Bona Sforza in English--I've quoted from Roland Bainton's Women of the Reformation from Spain to Scandinavia here. Wish I could read Polish--Maria Bogucka's Bona Sforza was published recently, but there's also a massive biography by Wladyslaw Pociecha, Królowa Bona, 1494-1557, published in four volumes (1949-58).



*This brief sketch of Bona Sforza has been adapted from The Monstrous Regiment of Women: Female Rulers in Early Modern Europe.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Berengaria "the Great"

Berengaria of Castile, queen regnant of Castile (died 8 November 1246)


The formidable twelfth-century ruler, Urraca of Castile and León, fought throughout her life to maintain the unity of her kingdom--her chief antagonist was her own husband, Alfonso I of Aragon. But she prevailed, and after her death, her son inherited the throne, becoming Alfonso VII of Castile and León. 

An eighteenth-century sculpture
of Berengaria,
Madrid
But the kingdom whose unity Urraca had preserved was divided by her son: when Alfonso VII died in 1157, his older son became Sancho III, king of Castile, and his younger son became Ferdinand II of León. It was left to another queen regnant, Berengaria to reunite the two kingdoms.

Born in 1180, Berengaria (also known as Berenguela) was the eldest child of Urraca of Castile's great grandson, Alfonso VIII, and his wife, Eleanor of England. (Eleanor was the daughter of a woman we've met before, Eleanor of Aquitaine.) She was her father's heir presumptive until the birth of Ferdinand in 1189. (Queen Eleanor of England had given birth to two boys, one in 1181 and another in 1184, but both had died soon after birth.)

Given her proximity to her father's throne, Berengaria was a very desirable match--a marriage contract between the princess and Conrad, one of the sons of Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman emperor, was agreed upon in 1187, and Conrad was knighted by Alfonso in 1188. 

But by 1191, the contract was dissolved--it may have been her grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who objected to Berengaria's marriage to the son of the Holy Roman emperor because of the political pressures such a union might place on her own French possessions.

The question became moot when Conrad was assassinated in 1196--perhaps by a woman he had raped, perhaps as a result of an infection that resulted from being bitten by a woman he was attempting to rape. In either case, Berengaria was lucky to avoid marriage to a man whose contemporaries described as "a man thoroughly given to adultery, fornication, defilement, and every foulness" (he wasn't totally condemned by this chronicler, however, who went on to add "nevertheless, he was vigorous and brave in battle and generous to his friends").

It was Berengaria's mother who seems to have been instrumental in arranging her daughter's marriage to Alfonso IX of León. It was an expedient choice: the king of León had invaded Castile (with the aid of Muslim forces, which had resulted in his excommunication).

Of course Alfonso already happened to have a wife--he had married Teresa of Portugal, his first cousin, in 1191, and by 1196, the couple had three children. In 1196, however, their marriage was annulled by Pope Celestine III.

A manuscript illustration of Alfonso IX and
Berengaria of Castile
And so Alfonso married Berengaria, variously described as his first cousin, once removed, or his second cousin. Whatever their exact relationship, this marriage was also challenged on the basis consanguinity, the kingdom placed under interdict by the pope.

Nevertheless, Berengaria and Alfonso remained together--they would have five children, despite their marriage being declared invalid in 1198. 

In 1204, despite the couple's efforts to secure a dispensation, the marriage was formally annulled, though the offending parties did manage to have their children declared legitimate. Berengaria returned to her father’s court in Castile.

The peace between Castile and León wad disrupted by the separation of the royal pair. Alfonso attacked Castile again in 1204, though treaties between the two kingdoms were made in 1205, 1207, and 1209. The conflicts were exacerbated by Alfonso's efforts to disinherit his children by Berengaria in favor of his children by Teresa of Portugal.

When her father died in 1214, Berengaria became guardian and regent for the young Enrique I, her brother. (Enrique was born in 1204; Ferdinand had died in 1211). Although she was quickly replaced by disaffected Castilian nobles, when Enrique died in 1217 Berengaria herself became ruler of Castile. 

Her succession as queen regnant was problematic, however, in part because there was some question about whether she or her sister Blanca was the next legitimate heir to the throne, and in part because her former husband, Alfonso of León, was her son's closest male relative--and potential heir. After receiving the crown, therefore, Berengaria abdicated in favor of her son, who was recognized as King Ferdinand III

Berengaria's husband invaded Castile. Although he did not succeed in efforts to unseat the young king, Alfonso of León's opposition to Berengaria persisted; when he died in 1230, instead of naming Ferdinand to succeed him in León, his two daughters by his first wife were named as his heirs. 

Berengaria a advised her son "with great prudence," indicating how to gain León without shedding more blood. Negotiating with his half-sisters, Ferdinand exchanged rich dowries for the crown of León, thereby reuniting the kingdoms of Castile and León. 

Berengaria continued to play a significant role in the kingdom; she advised her son about military and political affairs until her death in 1246.


Berengaria's tomb,
Monasterio de las Huelgas de Burgos
There are two important new studies of Berengaria and her queenship: Janna Bianchini's The Queen's Hand: Power and Authority in the Reign of Berenguela of Castile and Miriam Shaddis's Political Women in the High Middle Ages: Berenguela of Castile and Her Family.
























Monday, November 6, 2017

Back to the Future, Part 7: Nothing to See Here--Just a "Deranged" Guy with a Gun

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting . . . 


Unfortunately, nothing is new in the latest mass shooting--just another young, "upset" white guy who picks up a gun and shoots a bunch of people. 

In response to which, 45 takes a break from golf to fill a little airspace with meaningless word bubbles: thoughts and prayers, a guy with "problems," "this isn't a guns situation."

And maybe, as more details are released, there really is nothing new here. 

A violent young man, who has previously beaten the crap out of his wife and small child, packs up his guns (a Ruger AR-556--a "military style" semi-automatic "tactical rifle"--and two handguns, a Glock 9mm and a Ruger 22-caliber), heads off to a place where he can find lots of easy targets, and starts firing.

In this case, the shooter chose a church that his in-laws attended--although, as it turned out, they were not in the church on Sunday morning. But that didn't make any difference to the shooter. Twenty-five innocent men, women, and children are now dead.

As the research group Everytown for Gun Safety reported just months ago, "domestic violence is a driving factor in mass shootings."

The data published in Mass Shootings in the United States: 2009-2016 (March 2017) makes the link between domestic violence and mass shooting painfully obvious.

In the eight years under analysis, there were 156 mass shootings in the United States using FBI definitions for what constitutes "mass murder": "a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders. These events typically involved a single location, where the killer murdered a number of victims in an ongoing incident." 

These 156 "mass shootings" resulted in 848 deaths and 339 injuries. 

The majority of the cases--"at least 54%," or 85 of the 156 incidents--"were related to domestic or family violence" (3).

The carnage is shocking: 422 victims killed, 40% of them children (3).

The data in Mass Shootings was drawn from FBI homicide statistics and "media reports." Now that the FBI (and Department of Justice) have scrubbed pesky data like the relationship between murderers and their victims and the ages of homicide victims from their annual Crime in the United States report, good luck keeping track of the numbers . . . 

Just another deranged guy with a gun? Here's a modest proposal for what to do.


Update, 9 November 2017: For more on this topic, you may be interested in this podcast from WBUR (Boston) and its On Point broadcast, "The Link Between Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings" (9 November 2017)--to listen, click here.

One of the people interviewed for this broadcast is German Lopez, senior reporter for Vox. To read his piece, "America's Domestic Violence Problem is a Big Part of Its Gun Problem," click here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Mary Henrietta, Regent of Orange

Mary Henrietta Stuart, Princess Royal (born 4 November 1631)


Almost a year ago, I wrote about Mary Henrietta's younger sister, Elizabeth Stuart, who had a short and unhappy life--she died when she was fourteen years old. 

Mary Henrietta, born on 4 November 1631, lived a longer life, but she certainly didn't live to be an old woman. The eldest daughter of King Charles I of England and his French-born wife, Henriette Marie, Mary Henrietta, named after her mother, was only twenty-nine years old when she died on 24 December 1660.

Princess Mary Henrietta, 1637,
Anthony Van Dyck
Not a long life, by any standard, but she outlived four of her six siblings--only her two brothers, Charles II and James II lived longer than she did. The deprivations and excesses of Charles's life resulted in his death at the relatively young age of fifty-four. James II, forced to abdicate the English throne in 1688, was in exile in France until his death at age sixty-seven in 1701, the last ten years of his life living as a penitent.

A mostly short-lived, mostly unhappy set of siblings.

But at least Mary Henrietta lived long enough to marry, to be co-regent of the principality of Orange for her son, William, and to see her brother restored to the throne of England as Charles II. And, although she did not live to see it, her son would become king of England in 1689.*

Although she was celebrated for her beauty and her intelligence, the young princess was not well educated--the humanist ideal of educating young women, like her Tudor predecessors, Mary and Elizabeth, or Jane Grey, had been lost. Instead, the Stuart princess was instructed in religion and music and not much else. (Her nieces, both of whom became queens of England, Mary II and Anne, were also notoriously ill-educated.)

Her real significance lay in her marriage and its potential for securing important political alliances. As early as January 1640, a marriage between the English princess and William, the son of Frederick Henry, prince of Orange had been suggested by the statdhholder of the Dutch Republic. (Even earlier, however, Henrietta Maria's mother, the French queen and regent Marie de' Medici, had suggested the match to William for Charles's younger daughter, Elizabeth.)

But the English king was a bit more ambitious for Mary Henrietta, hoping to marry her to a Spanish prince, the son of Philip IV. The Spanish match (perhaps influenced by his own father's efforts to marry Charles to Philip III's daughter, Maria Anna of Spain) did not materialize, however, and by February of 1641, the nine-year-old princess's marriage treaty with William had been completed.

The marriage between the English princess, nine, and William, fifteen, was celebrated at Whitehall on 2 May 1641. Although the terms of the marriage agreement allowed for the girl to remain in England until she reached the age of twelve, circumstances dictated a change in plan when civil war broke out in England in 1642. 

In February 1642, Mary Henrietta left England in the company of her mother, Queen Henrietta Maria, the two traveling together to Holland. By 1644, in the words of the delightful 1893 biographical essay in the Dictionary of National Biography, she was "fully installed in her conjugal position."

Mary Henrietta, Princess of Orange, 1647,
Gerard van Honthorst
There she began receiving foreign ambassadors, fulfilling her required role in state functions, and participating in court entertainments.

Her strong sympathy for her father in his struggle with the English parliament, however, did not make her popular with the Dutch. (For her part, she did not like the Dutch and made no effort to learn their language.)

After Frederick Henry's death in 1647, William succeeded to his father's hereditary titles and, at the same time, was elected to his father's position as stadtholder. Neither his ambitions to become a monarch rather than an elected ruler nor his warm embrace of Charles I of England, contributed to William's political popularity in the Dutch Republic.

By 1650, William had decided to use force to resolve the political conflict. He sent forces to besiege the city of Amsterdam. Bad weather contributed to the surrender of the city, but William's victory was short-lived. He died of smallpox on 6 November 1650, leaving Mary Henrietta pregnant.

Mary Henrietta's son, William III, was born just days later, on 14 November. Although her husband's mother, Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, would serve as chair of the regency council for the infant from his birth until 1672, her wish to be the child's guardian was denied. 

Instead, by the terms of an agreement signed on 16 August 1651, Mary Henrietta was designated the teacher and guardian of her child. But, never popular, she was even more politically endangered when she offered a safe haven to her brothers who had been forced to flee England. 

She was denied permission to receive them (or support them), and her reputation suffered when it was rumored that she was involved with either George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, or Henry Jermyn, a member of her brother James's household.

In 1652, war erupted between Holland and England--after negotiating peace, Oliver Cromwell, who had become Lord Protector of the Commonwealth that had executed Mary Henrietta's father, demanded that all English exiles should be expelled from Holland.

Protesting these demands, and with her health suffering, Mary Henrietta left Holland in 1654. She traveled to Spa (Belgium), where she spent several weeks, leaving from there for another spa city, Aix-la-Chapelle. She met her brother, Charles, in Cologne (July 1655), moved on to Frankfort, and from there traveled to Paris (January 1656), where she was treated royally.

She stayed in Paris until November, meeting up again with her brother, this time in Bruges. She returned to The Hague in February 1657. When she returned, Mary Henrietta fully expected to become some regent for her son--she had finally attained her "full majority"--age twenty-five--and by the terms of her husband's will, she should have succeeded her mother-in-law as regent.

But Princess-Dowager Amalia did not give up so easily, and a protracted struggle between the two followed, Mary Henrietta's claims were buttressed by the arrival of French war frigates. Louis XIV seized Orange--the city capitulated to the French on 25 March 1660.

Mary Henrietta, Princess of Orange,
detail from a painting by
Gerard van Honthorst
This was not exactly the resolution designed to reconcile Mary Henrietta with the Dutch, nor did it assure she would become sole regent for her son. But a welcome event soon distracted her--her brother, Charles, was restored to the English throne. 

In May of 1660, Mary Henrietta informed the States-General of her brother's restoration. He joined her briefly before returning to England--and, significantly, he met his young nephew, William, now in the English line of succession--the boy who would eventually become king of his uncle's realm.

Mary Henrietta and her son were now feted throughout Holland--bonfires in The Hague, four days of festivities in Amsterdam, special honors in Haarlem. 

In September, Mary Henrietta left Holland to join her brothers in London. Given her support for her brother during his exile, she was warmly greeted. She took the opportunity to ask that the payment of a promised dowry of 40,000 pounds, never made, be finally paid. A commission was supposed to look into the situation.

But as the year ended, Mary Henrietta became gravely ill. She dictated her will on the day she died, 24 December 1660.  

There is no biography of Mary Henrietta Stuart, but you might enjoy Robert S. Rait's Five Stuart Princesses:  Margaret of Scotland, Elizabeth of Bohemia, Mary of Orange, Henrietta of Orleans, and Sophia of Hanover, which you can access via the Internet Archive by clicking here.

(By the way, here are Rait's Stuart princesses: Margaret of Scotland is the daughter of James I of Scotland, who married Louis, the dauphin of France [she died in 1445 at age twenty]; Elizabeth Stuart is the daughter of James I, who married Frederick of the Palatinate; Mary Henrietta, princess of Orange; Henrietta Stuart is Mary Henrietta's younger sister, who married Phillippe of France, Louis XIV's younger brother [she died in 1670 at age twenty-six], and Sophia of Hanover, who was Elizabeth Stuart's daughter.)


*William of Orange invaded England, aiming to depose his uncle, precipitating James II's flight from the country in 1688. William had married his first cousin, James's daughter, Mary, and while she might have inherited her father's throne and ruled alone as Mary II, she did not--parliament declared William and Mary to be joint sovereigns: "the sole and full exercise of the regal power [would be] executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joint lives." Parliament further decided that, if Mary died before her husband, William would continue to remain as king--thus James's second daughter, Anne, did not become queen until eight years after her sister's death in 1694 (she was only thirty-two years old)--William continued to reign as king until his death in 1702.