Last week, Christopher Hatton and Arthur Tudor moved on to the second round of competition while Henry Stafford and Nicholas Ridley were knocked out of the contest. Our first Tudor Tournament match-up for this week comes down to some big names in 16th century English history: Henry VII takes on Anne of Cleves and Thomas Seymour matches skills against Henry FitzAlan. Place your votes, and don’t forget to check the Tudor Tournament bracket to see our current first-round standings and second-round match-ups!
King vs. Queen: Henry VII vs. Anne of Cleves
Henry VII, King of England and of France and Lord of Ireland
Date: January 28, 1547 – April 21, 1509
Strengths: Though his claim to the throne was questionable, Henry was the senior Lancastrian claimant to the throne in 1483. With the support of his mother and by pledging himself in marriage to Elizabeth of York, Henry received the support he needed to become king. He also took advantage of his Welsh ancestry in raising the forces he needed to match Richard III. Upon his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, Henry had a tenuous hold on the English throne. However, he executed an excellent plan to bring the English nobles to heel: by retroactively declaring himself king the day before the Battle of Bosworth Field, he assured that anyone who fought against him would be declared a traitor. This allowed him to lay claim to the “traitor’s” lands and other property. In return for an oath of loyalty from the “traitors”, he allowed them to keep their property. He later restricted the nobility by issuing laws against livery and maintenance, which limited their ability to keep large private armies.
Weaknesses: Henry’s life was not always one brilliant success followed by another. He spent fourteen years in Brittany when Edward IV came to the throne. When the Duke of Brittany provided him with the supplies he needed to invade England, his plans were discovered and foiled. In the end, however, Henry succeeded in becoming Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.
Manner of death: Natural
Anne of Cleves, Queen of England
Date: September 22, 1515 – July 16, 1557
Strengths: Often remembered as one of the “divorced” wives in the rhyme, “Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived,” Anne could just as easily be described as a survivor. Despite Henry VIII’s disinterest in Anne upon meeting her, Anne did not meet any of the unhappy endings that Henry’s previous three wives experienced. Indeed, her decision to not contest the proposed annulment gained her a special place within the English Court. Hever Castle and Richmond Palace became hers, and she was regarded as the “King’s Beloved Sister.”
Weaknesses: Anne’s marriage to Henry might have lasted longer if the king had been more attracted to her. Henry was not taken with her looks, although another diplomat thought her “of middling beauty”. Additionally, her lack of English cultural and linguistic training weakened her in the eyes of the English court.
Manner of death: Natural
Baron vs. Earl: Thomas Seymour vs. Henry FitzAlan
Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley
Date: 1508 – March 20, 1549
Strengths: Thomas benefited from the marriage of his sister, Jane, to Henry VIII. It is suspected that he plotted to marry either Mary or Elizabeth Tudor. Thomas eventually married the Dowager Queen, Catherine Parr, a short time after Henry VIII’s death. Later, he became Lady Jane Grey’s guardian, and bribed a servant to bring him news of his nephew, the king. To gain young Edward’s favor, he supplied the boy with coin when he learned that the young king complained about his lack of spending money.
Weaknesses: Seymour’s plans were often grand, but he often lacked the vision to see them through (or the wisdom to not take on such plots in the first place). He was jealous of his brother’s position as Lord Protector. He planned to blackmail the vice-treasurer of the Bristol Mint, but his plan was uncovered. From there, he plotted to kidnap the king. Plans went awry when one of Edward VI’s spaniels began barking, and Seymour killed the dog. From there, he was charged with thirty-three counts of treason.
Manner of death: Beheaded
Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel
Date: April 23, 1512 – February 24, 1580
Strengths: Henry is one of the few people who hold the distinction of serving each Tudor monarch from Henry VIII to Elizabeth. Under Henry VIII, he began as a page and worked his way to the position of Lord Chamberlain. Under Edward VI, he was Lord High Constable. He initially signed the letters patent proclaiming Lady Jane Grey Queen, but as soon as the opportunity presented itself, he hurried to Mary Tudor’s side. Under her reign, he was both Lord High Constable and Lord Steward. Although Elizabeth I had little faith in him, he maintained his positions due to the high standing he had built-up for himself.
Weaknesses: Despite his longevity at the Tudor Court, FitzAlan found himself in hot water more than once. One reason for this was because FitzAlan was a religious conservative during a time of religious change. During Edward’s reign, he was connected to the Duke of Somerset, and was imprisoned for a time. For his suspicious activities during Elizabeth’s reign (including being the leader of the Catholic party and having ties to the Ridolfi Conspiracy), he was placed under house arrest on a few occasions.
Manner of death: Natural