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The Tudor Tournament

Nicholas Throckmorton vs. Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Today’s tournament contestants have a definite French feel to them. One was an ambassador to France during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The other was a Queen of France, and Queen Elizabeth’s aunt. Who would you choose to advance in a battle of the wits?

Nicholas Throckmorton

Nicholas Throckmorton, ambassador to France

Date: 151?- February 12, 1571

Quick blurb: Throckmorton is best known for his diplomatic efforts between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. He was a cousin to Catherine Parr, and grew up in the Parr household. It was while serving in Catherine’s household after Henry VIII’s death that he met Elizabeth. This relationship with Elizabeth led to his high status in her court, and his eventual appointment as an ambassador to France. While an ambassador, he supported the Huguenot cause.  He also was in charge of the English negotiations concerning Mary, Queen of Scots’ travel arrangements from France to Scotland. It was during this time that Throckmorton became Mary’s friend, as well as Elizabeth’s. After running afoul of Catherine de Medici, and being placed for a time under house arrest in France, Throckmorton was allowed to return to England. He was made an envoy to Scotland, and was placed in charge of preventing Mary’s marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Upon Darnley’s death, Elizabeth sent Throckmorton to Scotland to argue against Mary being deposed by the Scottish lords.

Strengths: Very good at following the way the wind blew at court. Survived the downfall of the Seymours, allied himself with John Dudley while Edward VI was king, and kept contact with supporters of both Jane Grey and Mary I. He was imprisoned for a time in the Tower due to Mary’s suspicions of his involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion, fled to France upon his release, but regained a position in Mary’s court by the end of her reign. Additionally, he was good friends with both Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Weaknesses: By playing so many sides of the diplomatic game, Throckmorton was in constant threat of losing his head. He was imprisoned by Mary I, imprisoned by Francis, Duke of Guise, placed under house arrest by Catherine de Medici, and upon unwisely showing the Scottish lords his instructions from Elizabeth I concerning Mary, Queen of Scots, was recalled to England. In 1569 he was held at Windsor Castle due to suspicions that he supported Thomas Howard’s design to marry Mary. Although Throckmorton was not executed, he no longer enjoyed Elizabeth’s favor.

Matter of death: Natural causes

Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon

Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Date: March 18, 1496 (nearly someone’s birthday!) – June 25, 1533

Quick blurb: Mary was the fifth child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and the youngest sister of Henry VIII (or, at least, the youngest to survive infancy). Like many princesses of this era, her father arranged her potential marriages with diplomacy in mind. In 1507, she was betrothed to Charles of Castile, later Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. Due to changing alliances, however, this betrothal was broken and Mary was instead wedded to Louis XII of France. Less than two months after her coronation, however, Louis died, leaving Mary (who was described as very beautiful) as one of the most desirable marriage candidates in France. Henry VIII also had his own marriage plans for Mary, and sent Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, to extend his well-wishes to the new French king and to retrieve his sister. Mary, however, had her own plans.

Strengths: Mary defied expectations and married Charles Brandon in secret on March 3, 1515.

Weaknesses: Technically, Brandon’s marriage to Mary was treason, as the Duke had not gained Henry’s approval before their secret marriage. Luckily for the couple, Brandon had a champion in Thomas Wolsey, and Mary and Henry had been very close to one another as children. The couple was fined for their impertinence, and remarried again on May 13, 1515. Mary would run afoul of Henry later in life when she opposed the annulment of Henry VIII’s and Katherine of Aragon’s marriage. This would not, however, put her life in danger.

Matter of death: Natural causes

Now, vote!



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