Edward? No, Edward was not the first male offspring born to Henry VIII. Henry was to go through six wives in total in hopes of finding an heir to the Tudor throne. Well his final wife Catherine Parr actually outlived him, so let’s say five. As we are aware Henry did father one legitimate male child, Edward, although Edward was a very sickly child he was not in good enough health to reign and died at a very early age.
Jane Seymour was the Queen that bore Henry’s son Edward. After his birth Henry used the act of succession to declare Edward the legitimate heir to the throne, which also meant that Edward’s children would be next in line after his death. This I would think rather annoyed his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth. Henry regarded Jane Seymour as his one true wife as she was the only one able to provide him with a male heir even though Edward’s birth was full of complications, as with most Tudor births. Jane Seymour was to die at Hampton Court Palace afterwards due to an infection. This was very common due to the lack of knowledge of even basic hygiene in Tudor times.
After Henry’s death Edward was crowned at the age of nine. For the short time Edward did reign a regency council performed most of the tasks which a king would normally do himself. This arrangement was only to be until Edward had reached maturity but Edward sadly did not even survive for that long. Edward himself drew up an act of succession to prevent the country turning to Catholicism at the hands of his half sister Mary. He chose Lady Jane Grey to become the next monarch. Lady Jane was Edward’s cousin, she ruled for a total of nine days before Henry’s elder children took back the right to rule.
Sorry what about this Fitzroy fella did you say? Hold your horses! Well if you insist ….
Henry Fitzroy, although a son of Henry VIII, was not a legitimate son. Henry was having relations of the intimate kind with a lady by the name of Elizabeth Blount, outside of marriage. The name ‘Fitzroy’ was one given to illegitimate children of English monarchs meaning, ‘son of the king’. This was fine for Henry of course, being the king there wasn’t much that could be said about it and no fear of decapitation either. Elizabeth was to be married soon after Henry’s birth at which time the King decided not to continue the relationship. Henry was the only illegitimate child that the monarch was to recognise as his own. Elizabeth and her husband received monies and other various aids from the king which would help with the child’s upbringing. Henry at one point had considered Henry Jr to be his successor as Edward had not yet been born.
Henry definitely took to the child. He was to give him the title Duke of Richmond and Somerset and Earl of Nottingham. He was later to receive more titles as gifts from his father.
Henry Fitzroy also known as Richmond was sadly to fall foul of the Tudor curse. He became ill with tuberculosis or what in the time was called consumption. He was to die in St James’s palace on the 23rd of July 1536. Henry Fitzroy had been a great asset to the Tudors as he helped secure a union making Ireland a part of Britain. He stood as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland and, well after his death, in 1542 the Crown of Ireland act was put into force. Meaning the King of England would now also rule over Ireland. Henry VIII was to be the first monarch to stand as both king of England and Ireland. The idea of Ireland being a separate nation suggested another King of Scotland may emerge. The monarch did not want to see this happen.
So, neither of the sons that Henry had so much trouble conceiving, made it to their 16th birthdays. Edward was to die by the age of 15 and Henry at the age of 11. If either were to have survived long enough we may even now still be in the Tudor age. The Stuarts may not have existed and we may still be ‘going to the dunny’ or the garderobe.
Henry did marry in 1533 but, due to his age the marriage was never consummated. The Tudor age did not end there of course, the throne was to be passed on to Mary and then finally end with the last reigning Tudor monarch and virgin queen, Elizabeth the first.